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06.30.15

Techrights Confirmed as a Target of EPO Surveillance, With Help From Control Risks Group (CRG)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Control Risks

Summary: Unveiling the cloak of secrecy from long-term surveillance by the European Patent Office (EPO) and a London-based mercenary it hired, bypassing the law

SEVERAL months ago, before the whole EPO surveillance scandal even began (it’s now standard practice at the EPO, signed off even by a bogus ‘data protection’ officer), we got an important headsup. Our sources informed us that the UK-based “independent global risk consultancy” (i.e. private security company) Control Risks had been “engaged by the EPO to carry out an investigation into EPO Staff Representatives.”

We previously wrote about Control Risks in the following important posts which add some background:

This had significant impact because it meant that the EPO was officially on a fishing expedition, trying to find sources and thus targeting reporters. It was always without doubt that we had been put on Control Risks’ “targets” list. If we were not, it would just mean that Control Risks may be utterly incompetent. These people don’t try to uphold the law but rather to protect those who break the law, by breaking the law themselves (privacy violations and cracking). At a later date we will provide additional details about the EPO’s shameful (and potentially illegal) practices.

Our claims, as above, are based not purely on hearsay. We found out about this before the press even talked about it and before EPO staff knew about it. At a later date we had a source tell us that Control Risks’ involvement “may also indicate that Control Risks will be involved in “investigating” Techrights (due to the fact that EPO managements is highly concerned about negative publicity from that channel).

“According to information, the EPO or its agents are involved in monitoring Techrights IRC channels and the logs of these channels to try and identify who is feeding information to Techrights.”

Look what the EPO has turned into. It’s something to be expected from an authoritarian regime.

Investigation Unit

06.29.15

Google’s Fight to Keep APIs Free is Lost, Let’s Hope Google Continues Fighting

Posted in Apple, Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 2:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCOTUS says no entry!

No entry sign

Summary: SCOTUS refuses to rule that APIs cannot be considered copyright-’protected’, despite common sense and despite Java (which the case is about) being Free/libre software

FOR anyone who has been paying attention, Oracle‘s hostility towards Android is not hard to understand. It is a CPTN member along with Microsoft and Apple and it has shown on numerous occasions over the years that it is eager to antagonise and badmouth Free software. Oracle killed many of the projects that it bought from Sun. Google, on the other hand, is at least trying to appease the Free software community and it has made Android (AOSP) an ‘open’ platform, even if most developers contribute just proprietary software to run on it.

Many of our readers have probably heard the big news by now. SCOTUS has aligned itself with foes of software development [1, 2, 3] (not just Free software development), reaffirming the ridiculous judgement from CAFC. Now that SCOTUS reaffirms the status of APIs as copyrightable, adding to mass surveillance with NDAs and software patents in the United States, why would software companies still choose to be there?

To give Google some credit, it did fight over this matter for nearly half a decade. After pressure from the clueless White House (exactly one month ago), however, reuse of APIs may be impossible and collaborative development with forking may soon be toxic. Today is a horrible day for software development in general and it’s not too clear to us what Google can do next. Some certain types of lawyers probably know Google’s next steps or options and knowing that this ‘legal’ system favours the deeper pockets, there is usually something someone can do given the correct fees (just see how long the SCO case goes on for).

“Google will hopefully continue to fight that case, whatever its options may be.”One reader of ours was disappointed with this article that FOSS Force published today, comparing Google to Microsoft. “Revisionism,” he said, “especially that closing sentence. People hate Microsoft not for the sake of hating Microsoft but because of how it (and its people) behaves and has behaved. It has held computing back at least 20 years and the damage spreads into all domains where desktop computers are used.

“It’s just that Microsoft pays for constant whine against Google. While Google has many shortcomings, it is not a problem like Microsoft has been and continues to be.”

“But on the topic of Google,” he continued, “here’s something fairly current with yet another ****up by SCOTUS” (he linked to the above news).

Google will hopefully continue to fight that case, whatever its options may be. As for Microsoft and Apple, they surely will keep trying to harm the market. They often work together these days (mostly true when it comes to patents, OOXML, DRM, and so on) and as this article by Galen Gruman reminds us:

If you thought Microsoft was finally treating the Mac as an equal citizen, you’ll be disappointed in the reality

Remember that Microsoft and Apple are both on Oracle’s anti-Android side (even publicly, on numerous occasions). These are all proprietary software giants, aspiring to control the entire market by patents, copyrights, litigation, and intimidation. Google simply does not fall under the same category. It deserves the public’s support in this particular case.

Patent Trolls in the Post-Alice World

Posted in Patents at 2:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A round-up of news about patent trolls in the United States, some of whom are are doing well and some of them not as well

Lawyers and other patent-centric parasites based in the unofficial home of patent trolls, the state of Texas, are very much upset with Alice — a case which essentially invalidates many of the patents they use for extortion. We covered this before and explained the reasons for it. Their livelihood is in jeopardy because they can’t quite prey on life savings of individuals and modest (at best) bank accounts of various startups around the US. “East Texas Federal Judge Sets Rules for Post-’Alice’ World,” says one article. We recently showed how patent practitioners in Texas were lobbying hard to keep the patent trolls going (antagonising patent reform), with their blackmail (as a ‘business’) flourishing. Using Lex Machina’s figures, Matt Levy very recently shared some statistics about Texas, and the Eastern District of Texas in particular. To quote: “The Eastern District of Texas had over 1,400 patent cases filed last year, and over 1,000 patent cases have been filed there in the first half of 2015. (Source: Lex Machina) Just last month (May), out of the 418 lawsuits filed, 295 were filed in Marshall, Texas, a town with a population of just under 24,000. For comparison, there were only 199 patent lawsuits filed in total in May 2014.”

“Apple sued the biggest Android distributor (Samsung) and Google’s/Android’s favourite child (Motorola), but then again so did Microsoft.”BlackBerry, which is rumoured to be exploring Android as the only route forward (not just one among several routes) was looking like an anti-Android troll in the making until not so long ago, but according to this analysis of “BlackBerry’s Licensing Revenue” (meaning patents): “There was little to no IP licensing done in the recent past.”

Perhaps BlackBerry is no longer a threat like Nokia, which Microsoft definitely turned into an anti-Android patent troll (of the bigger kind).

Speaking of trolls, Joe Mullin, a trolls expert, says that a “[p]atent troll wins $30M verdict against Sprint, has more trials on the way”. This story, for a change, didn’t develop in Texas. To quote Mullin, “Nebraska jury has ordered Sprint to pay $30 million to Prism Technologies, a patent-holding company that has sued the five largest cell phone carriers.

“Tuesday’s verdict (PDF) comes at a time when Congress is debating, for the second time in recent years, a bill to rein in companies like Prism, often referred to as “patent trolls.”

“Prism Technologies was founded as a successor to Prism Resources, an operating company that existed from 1991 to 2001 according to an online biography of co-founder Richard Gregg, who testified at trial. The company is now focused solely on licensing and litigation, and it has continued to get more patents.”

A week ago, citing this article from Ina Fried, BoingBoing asked, “Is patent trolling going out of style?”

That is indeed the case based on the booster of Microsoft and longtime promoter of Microsoft’s attacks (with patents) on GNU/Linux (Ina Fried did a lot of this while still at CNET/CBS). Fried writes: “For a while it seemed the mobile industry was deteriorating into a battle over who had the best patents — and the best patent lawyers.

“Apple was suing Samsung, Motorola was suing Microsoft and Google was in everyone’s cross hairs. And there were a lot more cases that weren’t making headlines.”

Apple sued the biggest Android distributor (Samsung) and Google’s/Android’s favourite child (Motorola), but then again so did Microsoft. The latter aggressor sued both companies and recently pressured the former to become a vassal of Microsoft in exchange for settlement. Microsoft has essentially itself become more like a patent troll, but since it refuses to let its own platform go (despite massive losses), it does not yet qualify, not as per the textbook definition of “patent troll”.

“Unified Patents,” said this one report from the other day, “works to deter nonpracticing entities from asserting weak patents” (whatever “weak” means).

When will Microsoft be recognised for what it really has become? When will European authorities react in lieu with their promise and stop Nokia from essentially becoming a European patent troll? Will BlackBerry ever sell its patents or itself become a patent troll? And in light of Apple‘s latest (over)hyped patent [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], will more people care to realise that Apple is not an innovator but an aggressor (using patents for lawsuits and imtmidation, not highlight any significant breakthroughs)? Also mind Amazon‘s latest Orwellian patent, which hardly comes across as anything that a 5-year-old wouldn’t have managed to ‘invent’.

06.28.15

DDOS Attacks Against Techrights

Posted in Site News at 9:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Knocking the site over intentionally

Chess board

Summary: Information about some of the most recent DDOS attacks against this Web site and the steps to be taken next

THERE is a long history of DDOS attacks against Techrights, going back to 2008 or thereabouts. There were also press articles about DDOS attacks against the site (based on evidence provided to journalists upon request). Pinpointing who’s to blame for an attack is a lot harder than combating an attack (one way or another) and holding someone accountable is virtually impossible. People don’t just give themselves away so willing.

Over the past week there was a new pattern of DDOS attacks and they came from AWS servers, so I was able to file abuse reports and pursue this complaint (still work in progress). At this stage I am still hoping to see who or what group (or company) is behind it. This is clearly malicious.

Over the past few months I lost a lot of time (maybe hundreds of hours) due to DDOS attacks. It’s financially damaging and emotionally exhausting. I have been privately advised to file a report with the Dutch authorities over various DDOS attacks, which some told me might be connected to the EPO (or particular high-level staff at the EPO). Nonetheless, these efforts are usually a waste of time (I last tried around 8 years ago), so I did not bother. It’s a patience-draining experience that usually yields no results at all. It’s mostly symbolic. I did plan to write about this at some later stage and I even told one person that I might write more about intricate details of the attacks one day, maybe after the storm is settled at the EPO (giving too much information away usually helps the attacker). Today I would like to share some information about recent DDOS attacks and patterns that were noticed. This is information that won’t help the attacker; rather, it might discourage the attacker.

Referring to our DDOS complaints (IP addresses of the EPO hammering on our server quite heavily) and my recent “tweet”, one person told me that “The EPO IU is based in Munich but that doesn’t really tell you anything about what IP addresses are going to appear on traffic from the EPO.

“As far as [I'm] informed much of the EPO’s IT infrastructure is located in the Hague (Rijswijk) office. So even Internet traffic from Munich may be routed through a proxy in the Hague and appear with a Netherlands IP address. In any case the IU (in Munich) could presumably delegate tasks to an IT department (which could be based in the Hague).

“But the fact that you seem to be identifying IP addresses assigned to the EPO is in itself revealing.

“A lot of EPO addresses begin with 145.64 [...] You can find many of the address blocks in the db-ip.com database. For example: https://db-ip.com/all/145.64.0

“But it’s important to note that the geographical location nominally associated with the EPO IP address (e.g. Rijswijk/Hague) doesn’t really tell you where the user of the IP address is physically located (e.g. whether in Munich or the Hague).”

More technical information about the nature of the DDOS-induced strain can be published when the storm at the EPO is over. I can only speculate about who’s behind the attacks and weigh the probabilities. There is no ‘smoking gun’ just yet.

Some things, like the nature of attacks on this site, can be published upon key events, such as key facts about SIPO/Željko Topić corruption being published after a defamation trial reveals that allegations have merit and are most likely true. It would be safer for Techrights to limit sharing of information temporarily and to do so (against accusations or retaliatory tactics) only until perceived foes are powerless and widely scrutinised.

“You could try filing a criminal complaint with the Dutch authorities,” one person told me. “It seems that they have take action against DDOS attacks in the past.

“The EPO will probably try to hide behind its “immunity” but that should not protect it in this case as DDOS is not part of its official functions.”

DDOS attacks are very hard to analyse for original sources, speaking as a system administrator here. As far back as pre-2010 I have tried complaining to British authorities and it never led to the slightest of actions. They don’t even know what DDOS means, until or unless it attacks some major business or a governmental institution. Experience teaches that it’s a waste of time to even initiate action and I already have a big battle with BT (since March) and another one brewing with Amazon (over the latest DDOS against Techrights). Amazon will hopefully unmask (perhaps under increasing pressure) the identity of the account behind it all. This needs to happen soon, maybe this week.

“You may be right,” wrote to us another person with some background in this area. “It’s probably easier just to block the addresses.” Well, it’s not always possible, not with AWS anyway (far too many IP addresses).

Speaking again with one who is familiar with the EPO’s network, I begin to consider filing a complaint directly with the EPO. “As mentioned previously,” wrote to us one person, “as far as we can determine, most officially registered EPO addresses begin with 145.64.

“See here: http://bgp.he.net/AS28756#_prefixes

“Also here: https://ipinfo.io/AS28756

The E-mail addresses listed for the Network Administrators at the EPO under the second link above are rather clear.

ywoue@epo.org and wherler@epo.org (that’s Wolfgang Herler) will soon be contacted.

We found two further E-mail addresses here: jbielsa@epo.org and nderuiter@epo.org (that’s Niek de Ruiter).

There is also an “impersonal” E-mail address for Network Administration: admin_network@epo.org

Once I get to the bottom of the DDOS attacks from Amazon AWS I may also make time to file a detailed complaint to the above addresses, complete with a list of offending EPO IP addresses (which automatically got banned by our security software/defences, based on their erratic behaviour).

The Patent System Not What it Used to be, Large Corporations and Patent Lawyers the Principal Beneficiaries

Posted in Patents at 8:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ensuring that rich people become even richer, resistant to challenge

NYC

Summary: A look at some recent patent stories and what can be deduced from them, based on statistics and trends

THE HUGE news (in our assessment) that no Free software and GNU/Linux sites ever talk about is the fast demise of software patents in the United States. The prospects of patent blackmail are greatly affected (vastly diminished) by this. It helps any unaffiliated (independent from corporations and thus autonomous) software project compete against big entities with patents — those that have been shutting down Free software projects for years, usually by means of intimidation alone. Indie Free software developers cannot afford days in court and the income they receive from Free software they develop tends to be zero or very little, so the incentive to go to court is reasonably low.

Not only software patents are affected but patents on business methods are too. As this one article put it a fortnight ago: “Each panelist had a very interesting perspective on the future of patents held by banking and financial services firms, where the majority of these patents are primarily business methods and software related.”

Debates about patent scope are important. Some wonder whether drugs should be patentable (ethical issues arise because of potentially mortal impact) and other wonder about patenting medical devices so as to price them out of reach, if not just monopolise them, thus making them more scarce (unavailable in poorer places or inaccessible to poor people).

“No matter who wins and who loses a case, patent lawyers will always profit from it.”Patents originally promised ‘protection’ for the little independent inventor, supposedly protecting him or her from much better funded corporations with copycats and mass production. In reality, as these new figures serve to show, patents are being hoarded or at least gathered mostly by large corporations, perhaps reminding us who is best served by today’s patent system. It’s getting worse — and fast! The past decade alone has been terrible amd the passage of power to large corporations accelerated, as evidenced by patents. As Patently-O puts it: “As with dependent claims, the average number of independent claims per patent has also dropped significantly over the past decade. (From around 3.2 to 2.5 independent claims per patent). As the histogram shows below, the decline comes primarily from a rise in the percentage of applications with three-or-fewer independent claims.”

Many thanks to Dennis Crouch for shattering a common myth about ‘protection’ for the little independent inventor. This myth is now dead. Crouch attributes this to costs and explains that “change is largely driven by PTO fees and the ongoing commodification of patent prosecution.”

The system is now just tilted in favour of large corporations. The Fitbit-Jawbone feud which we mentioned the other day is still in the news [1, 2] and it helps remind us who benefits the most from patent extravaganza (more so than corporations): patent lawyers. No matter who wins and who loses a case, patent lawyers will always profit from it. Patent litigation is a racket and a racket that needs to be ended, just like Major General Smedley Butler once explained in relation to the war industry.

After Intervention by the Council of Europe Comes a Detailed Summary of the Situation in the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Will Europe tolerate corruption again?

“[A]mazing that corruption is [accepted] by the entire developed world. stunning that it has met with resistance only with some developing nations and maybe the european union.”

Ashok Pai

European flags

Summary: The abuses of the EPO’s management summarised in a 9-page document, which includes many references to media coverage in Europe

THE coming weeks or months promise potentially big changes, similar to the ones at FIFA (with Blatter in Battistelli’s shoes). Like glorified tyrant Lee Kuan Yew, Battistelli exercises authoritarian control in pursuit of profit (at all costs, even by expanding patent scope beyond what is legal), including corruption of the media, corruption of what was supposed to resemble separation of powers, and self-indulgence in massive inequality, even embezzlement of public money and misuse thereof for human rights violations. Some large businesses may genuinely like Battistelli, but not the citizens (of Europe) or the workers (of EPO); they are just afraid to say it. It’s a reign of terror. It’s tyranny.

The Council of Europe's complaint (with over 80 high-profile signatures) sure put a lot of pressure on the EPO‘s management. Here is the direct link corresponding to the Council of Europe’s official statement in its Web site. The French version is here.

Some time on Sunday SUEPO wrote in its public site:

The social conflict at the European Patent Office continues. The working climate has become toxic for both individual staff in the EPO and for the broader functioning of this European institution as a whole.

An overview of the latest events and an analysis of the current situation can be found in this publication.

Since this is a PDF-only publication, we decided to reproduce it as HTML, potentially broadening its reach:

26.06.2015

su15271cp – 0.2.1/0.3.2/5.3

Situation of European Patent Office (EPO)

JUNE 2015

Governments, politicians, representatives of Europe’s industry, NGOs and other interested critical observers, all should be concerned about the situation at the European Patent Office.

The officials of the EPO are entrusted with carrying out the European patent granting process, which includes taking responsibility for an independent review of European patent applications and for the application of law in this area of intellectual property.

However, governance over the current EPO procedure lacks fundamental checks and balances, there is no democratic control, and the staff themselves have in many cases no effective access to an independent, impartial judicial review when contesting a decision.

Yet checks and balances with access to a fair trial are fundamental components of the rule of law enjoyed in the democracies of our founding States, since they belong to their “community of values”. But apparently these are not applied in the EPO, which is fast becoming an island of lawlessness in the very heart of Europe.

For EPO staff, this governance problem is compounded by the now notoriously authoritarian administration style of the President of the EPO, Benoit Battistelli, such that the problem is now acute. Under his regime, the EPO has become a police state operating with impunity. Opposition is not tolerated and any staff perceived as being “obstructive” are removed by way of disciplinary procedures, penalties or other means, sometimes of dubious legality. Staff – in particular Union officials – are investigated and interrogated, in some cases by an external security agency, without any personal safeguards.

The events described in this document illustrate the dramatic downward trend in social dialog over the last four years. This drift, which is now increasingly visible to the public, finds its roots in an EPO management style characterized by its authoritarian leadership. The working climate is toxic for both individual staff in the EPO and for the broader functioning of this European institution as a whole. Functional immunity granted to the EPO has been conceived as blanket immunity, thereby exposing staff to the unlawful exertion of internal influence.

Not only the Administrative Council of the EPO, but also the European authorities and the public at large, all should beware the undesirable consequences when such abusive powers are left to operate effectively with total impunity.

UPDATED PRESS COVERAGE AND LETTERS FROM SUEPO
CAN BE FOUND HERE:

http://www.suepo.org/public/news

1


The EPO as a battlefield?1

1. Reforms

The European Patent Convention is now over 40 years old. The EPO is set up according to principles of the international civil service, many of which date back to the early 20th century. As early as 2007, the Administrative Council mandated a succession of EPO Presidents to develop and then introduce a number of reforms. The need for reform is understandable; it should strive to maintain the organisation’s compatibility with the needs and values of the public it professes to serve. However until now, most of the reforms have concerned human resources management and changing working conditions. None have addressed the issues of transparent governance with management accountability.
The working conditions laid down in the Service Regulations are not published; once the Administrative Council adopts new working conditions, they are implemented without any possibility for an independent instance or for the public to verify their compatibility with fundamental rights or with the generally accepted principles of law. A combination of claimed total immunity and, at the behest of the President, the abolition of external audit has led to this grave situation. Far from being of simply academic concern, the issue of control over governance and enforcement of fundamental rights is a very concrete issue. Although EPO staff members are civil servants, they do not enjoy the same “safety net” as
their counterparts in national administrations. In the event of termination of contract, EPO staff have no claim to support from a national health insurance, nor will they receive any unemployment benefits. In addition, their pension rights are not always secured.

2. Democratic deficit

All citizens of any democratic country retain, at least indirectly through their elected representatives, a certain degree of influence over the rules and legislation that will apply to them. They can always take part through internal procedures of political parties in the elaboration of proposals, they can participate in public debates, and ultimately they can vote legislators out of office at the next election. This is not the case in the EPO. Binding rules are enacted by the Administrative Council (which consists of non-elected civil servants from member states) on the recommendations of the President of the EPO. Lack of meaningful consultation or collaboration means staff has virtually no say and judicial control is limited.
Many of the changes introduced are perceived as being nonsensical, disruptive and later deemed inconsistent with subsequent changes. This has caused widespread discontent.

3. Repression of dissent: An uncontrolled police state

Even though the outcome was often less than satisfactory, the EPO management must be given credit for trying, at least between 2007 and 2010, to allay the concerns of staff by engaging in meaningful dialogue with elected staff representatives, including the staff union. All this has changed dramatically under the current President. Instead of engaging in dialogue, he has chosen the path of systematically repressing the slightest expression of dissent and/or opposition.
To silence any dissenting voice, the President has unilaterally introduced a raft of reforms including: changing the rules for challenging decisions; introducing new “investigation

____________________
1 IPKat provides an interesting overview of the events at the EPO since 1 January 2015.

2


guidelines“; introducing new strike rules; banning SUEPO from EPO premises; applying disciplinary measures to Staff Representatives; banning Staff Representatives from sending emails to more than 50 Staff members; investigating Staff representatives using the Investigating Unit who use sometimes dubious methods and external2 contractors.
Both the international press and the internet are replete with negative reports concerning the management style of Benoît Battistelli. These include:

  • Censorship over deteriorating working conditions;
  • Disciplinary measures and threats against those individuals who raise the issue of four suicides in 3 years. Threats of reprisals against those who intend to join a peaceful demonstration duly authorized by the city authorities;
  • Suspension of and disciplinary measures against two Staff Committee nominees in the Appeal Committee, allegedly for daring to resist management manipulation;
  • Suspension of a “patent judge”, a Board of Appeal member, by the EPO President under the guise of a “house ban”, which has now endured for more than 6 months)3;
  • Installation of secret spying equipment (including key-loggers) on computers in the semi-public areas of the EPO: such computers were made available to members of the Administrative Council (during AC meetings) and visiting patent attorneys while prosecuting patents for their clients;
  • Approval – albeit retroactively4 – of such spying by the Data Protection Officer;
  • While ostensibly trying to repair its image by endeavouring to re-open dialogue with the Unions5, the Administration has concurrently launched investigations against the majority (if not all) of the Staff representatives and Union Officials. Many of these investigations have been sub-contracted to an external company, Control Risks, who have a somewhat
    controversial reputation. Their techniques involve interrogation without any safeguards, all this at the initiative of the investigation unit, itself under the direct authority of the President of the Office.

4. No effective access to justice

Staff is particularly aggrieved because it has no reasonable way to seek relief through judicial review:

  • The internal dispute resolution process (the Internal Appeals Committee) and the subsequent external instance (the Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation) are reserved for individual grievances that can be instigated once the alleged

____________________
2 A comprehensive list can be found in the following SUEPO publication.
3 This action has generated enormous disquiet, not only among bloggers, attorneys and EPO union officials, but also within the Enlarged Board of Appeal. The Administrative Council endorsed this decision in its December session. Up to date (June 2015), disciplinary proceedings are on-going and the BoA member is still suspended until a further decision, probably the next AC session.
4 It has become apparent from a document (archive) available on internet (FOSS Patents) that the covert surveillance of publicly accessible computers in the Munich ISAR building by the Investigation Unit has been signed by the Data Protection Officer of the European Patent Office. A blogger, Florian Mueller, comments as follows: “There is now
conclusive evidence that the EPO has violated basic human rights not only of its staff but even of unsuspecting visitors of one of the EPO’s Munich facilities. [...] [T]he request that the “data protection officer” (who is more than 25 years late to serve as a Stasi official) authorized merely refers to freedom-of-speech issues: “a sustained campaign of defamatory and insulting communications against [the EPO's Jack Warner] Vice President Zejlko Topic, other senior managers of the Office and possibly Administrative Council Delegates, in the form of normal post and electronic mail.”
In the mean time, neither the EPO nor the AC representatives have commented upon these events, let alone taken steps to suspend the investigations. See References [6]-[11] below.
5 In an attempt to limit the damage in the public eye, and to counter the criticism within the Administrative Council, the Chair of the Council Jesper Kongstad and the President of the EPO Benoit Battistelli called for “a renewed social dialogue”: They “consider in particular that the formal recognition of the trade unions within the EPO’s legal framework could create the conditions to re-launch the process and to overcome some longstanding issues5.” This led the way to “trilateral meetings” with representatives of the unions, of the Administrative Council and the President. However, it has become quite clear that any “recognition” has to remain toothless.

3


  • damage has occurred. Only in very exceptionally circumstances can a general decision, such as a decision modifying working conditions, be challenged perhaps collectively before it has been implemented.
  • An appeal against dismissal or other disciplinary action can only be sought in front of the “Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organisation” (ILOAT) in Geneva, who cannot grant injunctive relief. The situation can only be corrected once the damage has occurred: such relief may take many years. This and the lack of any emergency procedure,
    makes EPO staff particularly vulnerable to succumbing to the threats inherent in the present management style.
  • The staff union has no access to either the Internal Appeals Committee or to the ATILO. As a corporate body established under national law, the Union may have access to the domestic courts of the host countries, but the EPO shields itself behind its functional immunity from any and all jurisdiction and execution.
  • Even when staff members have access to the statutory dispute resolution process, it takes on average 3-5 years for a grievance to be assessed by the Internal Appeals Committee. If the grievance then proceeds to the ATILO, the claimant can count on a minimum of another 3-4 years before the grievance is heard. All in all, with the current increasing backlog in the
    Internal Appeals Committee and at the ATILO, it is expected that grievances lodged after 2011 will not be adjudicated before at least a decade.
  • Staff repeatedly complain that the Appeals Committee is both highly dysfunctional and lacking in impartiality. Things were so bad that in October 2014, the Central Staff Committee refused to appoint representatives to the Appeals Committee until these issues were resolved. Instead of addressing them, the President simply ordered his appointees to proceed without staff representatives6.
  • On behalf of the AC, the Board of Auditors of the European Patent Organisation reviewed the Internal Appeals procedure in June 2015 (CA/20/15). They have confirmed that the President does not follow recommendations of his own Appeals Committee insofar as he (almost) systematically rules against staff. The ILO-AT itself judged that it “is ill equipped to act as a trial court” (J.3291). For SUEPO, there can be no social peace without unrestricted access to impartial justice.
  • Moreover, if one takes the figures provided by the auditors for 2013 – 20 Nov 2014 in A/20/15 and compares them to the figures provided by the President in his social report (CA/55/15), one realizes that between 20 Nov. and 23 Dec. 2014, the Committee apparently managed to produce over 150 opinions in a single month! One could be tempted to conclude that when the clash exploded and the Appeals Committee was directed to continue its work without staff representatives, the remainder of the Committee either accelerated to an incredible speed or found a short-cut to the procedures: in a couple of sessions and within a few days, it took care and to provide opinions on the equivalent of the past year’s “production”.

5. Conflict

The management style that currently prevails in the EPO may well be both detrimental to its proper functioning and undermine the EPO’s reputation on the international stage. This has generated a considerable number of articles in the mainstream press or well-respected blogs on intellectual property. Questions have even been raised in several European parliaments. Despite this unrest, the organization fails to adhere to European values.

To try and ease the situation, the staff representation has repeatedly proposed to Mr. Battistelli to use an external mediator; this suggestion has always been rejected. The Union has proposed a

____________________
6 Staff Committee views can be found here [1].

4


framework agreement to regulate relations between itself and management; the proposal has also been ignored. Recently, the German court in Munich also suggested mediation as a means to
facilitate resolution of a dispute with the union; Mr Battistelli flatly rejected the Court’s recommendation.

Eventually, the Union has had to bring the matter before a national court where they claimed that the EPO was infringing SUEPO’s right to operate and to engage in collective bargaining. The Dutch Court of Appeal, in its February judgment, ruled in favour of SUEPO vs EPO. To quote from an article in the Nederlands Juristenblad, a Dutch legal magazine:

“The Court of Appeal in The Hague has created an international precedent in the case against EPO by rejecting the immunity of an international organisation in a collective labour law case, and also awarding the claims on their merits, based on the fact that the organisation in question violated fundamental human rights. This decision is important because it further institutionalises the accountability of international organisations. Unfortunately the Netherlands also showed itself at its most narrow-minded: the Minister instructed the bailiff to not enforce the judgement because the organisation enjoys immunity from enforcement under international law. This instruction not only erodes the separation of powers stipulated by the Constitution, it isn’t an obligation under international law either: as is the case for immunity from jurisdiction, immunity from enforcement can only be granted if the organisation adequately protects fundamental rights.”

In the meantime, the Dutch government has now apparently joined the EPO in an attempt to overturn the judgment in the next instance (“cassation”)7.

6. An unhealthy concentration of Power.

Like many international organisations, the EPO and its (high) officials enjoy a degree of immunity that borders on impunity. There are virtually no checks and balances left to counter any abuse. Of perhaps greatest concern is the lack of checks and balances in respect of the highest “judicial instance” of the EPO, the Board of Appeals. Even the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the EPO took up this issue in early 2014 through a remarkable decision >[16].

President Battistelli has engaged in a series of reforms for the Boards of Appeal8:

  • Perceived independence: a new proposal (CA/16/15) states its goals as “to increase the organisational and managerial autonomy of the BOA, the perception of their independence (enshrined in Article 23 EPC) and also their efficiency, in order to respect the principle of effective legal protection within the legal framework of the current EPC”.
    In a position paper, the association of the members of the BoA (AMBA) criticised the proposal: in their opinion, it “mixes up the roles of a supervisory committee and a council of the judiciary without being either” and without solving “the problems noted in R 19/12”. Furthermore, “making re-appointment dependent on performance appraisals, including quality aspects, [goes] against the security of tenure.“ uncertainty of permanent status“ which in turn is not “helpful in recruiting experienced external candidates”. Finally, the proposed “move to Berlin would have serious consequences on manpower”.
  • New career proposal: AMBA and the Presidium of the BoA equally criticised the new proposal for implementing a new career system noting that it “takes no account of the special situation of the boards of appeal, and even removes existing derogations”.

____________________

7 See references [3]-[5] below.
8 See references [12]-[15].

5


These proposals are under discussion and are receiving great public attention. AMBA concludes that these proposals are “in contrast to a clear separation of powers which is a basic principle in all European countries and which is of utmost importance for the acceptance of the European patent system.”

7. The interest of the European public

There is a serious problem of governance in the EPO. The opacity of its decision-making processes and the lack of accountability, which the EPO justifies on the basis of “its immunity”, is anachronistic in both Europe and in the 21st century: we live in a time where states require from their institutions (and from each other) both financial transparency and accountability. While the EPO may still be “competitive” as an employer in terms of remuneration benefits, its internal human resources policies, in particular with regards to interpersonal relationships, are both antiquated and brutal.

Generally speaking, European society should not tolerate that some of its citizens are deprived of their fundamental rights simply because they are employed by an intergovernmental organisation, or because they are well paid. This is surely particularly pertinent when the EPO member states are, in their overwhelming majority, also member states of the European Union. Yet this is exactly what now happens at the EPO.

The Administrative Council of the EPO, and thereby vicariously the member states, are being at best complacent, at worst grossly negligent of their responsibilities. The Council largely gives the President carte blanche, without asking what the consequences might be or considering how he could use his powers. Structurally, the President of the EPO acts as accuser, investigator, judge and final arbiter on all matters; there is no separation of power guaranteeing a healthy system of checks and balances for his actions. The nearly absolute power the current President enjoys and the manner in which he uses it continues to be a source of particular concern and dismay. Staff and their unions consider the limitations on the freedom of expression and freedom of association (embodied in the strike regulations) without effective access to justice as breaches of their fundamental rights as Europeans.

Furthermore, beyond the fact that European citizens are deprived of the fundamental rights, this working environment is highly toxic for both the individual staff in the EPO and for the normal functioning of this European institution as a whole. An authoritarian leadership without effective judicial protection makes individual staff members particularly vulnerable to suffering under the present management style: not only does their health suffer, but their capacity as officials entrusted with the European patent granting process is impaired. Under these conditions, how can one expect EPO agents to fulfil their responsibilities and undertake an independent review of European patent applications and apply the law dictated by the EPC? If the EPO is tasked with granting patent rights to inventors and European industry, how credible are those rights if delivered by an institution that is ostensibly unable to comply with the rule of law in its own internal affairs?

Functional immunity granted to the EPO has been conceived by management as blanket immunity, thereby exposing staff to the use of abusive powers with total impunity.

It is high time that the competent authorities take a keener interest in what is happening at the EPO and insist that the house be put in order. This should be done by introducing proper policies through consultation and negotiation, not through repression and intimidation.

6


REFERENCES

[1] “EPO Justice: Analysis of Board of Auditors Review (CA/20/15)” , by the Central Staff Committee, 02.06.2105

https://www.suepo.org/rights/public/archive/sc15220cp.pdf

“Report – EPO Internal Justice System”, SUEPO, 18.12.2013

http://www.suepo.org/public/su13201cp.pdf

“Trias Politica” – Beyond the problems, the way out: “Feuille de Route” for Social Democracy“, by SUEPO, 18.12.2013

http://www.suepo.org/public/su13202cp.pdf

[2] “SOCIAL CONFLICT AT THE EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE”, by SUEPO, 27.11.2014

http://www.suepo.org/public/su14294cp.pdf

[3] Judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal in SUEPO v EPO
The judgment of the Dutch Court of Appeal is available in English, French and German.

http://www.suepo.org/archive/su15088cpe.pdf

Süddeutsche Zeitung, “Recht haben und recht bekommen”, 27.02.2015
http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15092cp.pdf (with translations)

Nederlands Juristenblad, “Fundamentele arbeidsrechten en immuniteit”, 08.05.2015
http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15222cp.pdf (with translations)

[4] Communiqué 69 from the President of the EPO (Annex)

http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/02/the-epo-privileged-and-immune-says_24.html

[5] Notification from the Dutch Government (Annex)

http://www.suepo.org/public/su15090cp.pdf

[6] “The so-called data protection officer of the EPO signed off on keylogging, hidden
cameras”, FOSS Patents, 14.06.2015

http://www.fosspatents.com/2015/06/the-so-called-data-protection-officer.html

“Forderung nach externem Datenschützer”, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10.06.2015
http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15250cp.pdf (with translations)

[7] “Wie bei der FIFA oder in China – Europäisches Patentamt: Beschäftigte bespitzelt”, Münchner Merkur, 12.06.2015

http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15244cp.pdf

[8] “MPs call for tough action on rogue investigators”, 06.06.2012

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/news/120706-pi-rpt-published/

“The Dark Side of Power: German Corporate Spying Scandal Widens”, Spiegel Online,
“Attack on Customer Data: Lufthansa Admits Spying on Journalist”, Spiegel Online
“Watching the detectives”, The Guardian
“From guard dogs and fences to business intelligence”, Financial Times

7


[9] “Sturm im Glashaus”, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 31.05.2015
http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15214cp.pdf (with translations)

“Krisenfachleute spähen im Europäischen Patentamt”, FAZ, 02.06.2015
http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15219cp.pdf (with translations)

[10] “Un si bon office”, Le Monde, 06.04.2015

http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15152cp.pdf

[11] Demonstration in front of the British consulate in Munich planned for the 25.02.15 and
cancelled on 23.03.2015. What does EPO staff want?

http://www.suepo.org/public/su14286cp.pdf

“Präsident droht protestwilligen Mitarbeitern”, Münchner Merkur, 25.02.2015

http://www.suepo.org/public/ex15070cp.pdf

[12] Letter of Sir Robin Jacob addressed to Mr Jesper Kongstad, Chairman of the AC of the EPO.

http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/01/judicial-independence-europes-ip-judges.html

[13] Communiqué on decisions taken by the Administrative Council at its 142nd meeting concerning the suspension of the member of the Board of Appeal, 12.12.2014

http://www.epo.org/about-us/organisation/communiques.html#a10

For all matter concerning the Board of Appeals please refer to the Association of the
Board Members:

http://www.amba-epo.org/

[14] The further public condemnations:

Letter from Dr. Tilman Müller-Stoy at Bardehele PagenBerg to the German representative of the AC, 08.12.2014

http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2014/12/the-chorus-swells-another-entreaty-to.html

http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/12/top-notch-patent-litigator-sees.html

Letter from the Enlarged Board of Appeal to the representatives of the AC, 08.12.2014

http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2014/12/breaking-news-enlarged-board-appeals.html

Letter from two external members of the Enlarged Board of Appeal to the representatives of the AC;

http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/leading-european-ip-judges-join-chorus.html

Six further external members of the Enlarged Board agree, 11.12.2014

http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/six-more-judges-criticise-battistellis.html

[15] Letter from the EP Lawyers Association to the AC representatives, 29.12.2014

[16] Concerns from Law Associations about the new BoA Career proposal (CA/16/15)

8


In the framework of the user consultation, the following raised concerns about the
proposal in CA/16/15:

Letter from Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE), 15.05.2015

http://www.ccbe.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/NTCdocument/1__Letter_independen1_1432041035.pdf

Letter from EPLAW, 04.06.2015
http://www.eplawpatentblog.com/2015/June/20150604 Letter to Mr. Battistelli.pdf

[17] Decision R 19/12:

The Enlarged Board decides that the Vice President of DG3 is to be recused from a petition for review case on suspicion of partiality because of his continuing connection with the EPO management.

https://register.epo.org/application?documentId=EV0ZJBW50569684&number=EP99947419&lng=en&npl=false

Further Press reports

[18] “Streit beim Europäischen Patentamt”, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11.03.2014
http://www.suepo.org/public/Streit_eskaliert_de_en_nl.pdf (with translations)

[19] “Umstritten und Souverän”, Die Zeit, Ausgabe Nr.13 20.03.2014

http://www.zeit.de/2014/13/benoit-battistelli-epa-europaeisches-patentamt

[20] Brief vom französischen Abgeordneten Philip Cordery an die französischen Minister Arnaud Montebourg und Fleur Pellerin.
http://www.suepo.org/public/CorderyLetterFr-En-De.pdf (with translations)

[21] Offener Brief vom französischen Abgeordneten Pierre-Yves Le Borgn‘

http://www.pyleborgn.eu/2014/04/interrogations-sur-la-gouvernance-de-loffice-europeen-des-brevets/

[22] “Eine kleine Minderheit schürt Ängste”, Süddeutsche Zeitung 26.03.2014

http://www.suepo.org/public/su14078cp.pdf

[23] “Ärger im Europäischen Patentamt – Aufstand gegen den Sonnenkönig”, Berliner Zeitung vom 30.03.2014

http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/wirtschaft/aerger-im-europaeischen-patentamt-aufstand-gegen-den-sonnenkoenig,10808230,26698776.html

[24] “A l’Office européen des brevets, ambiance délétère et président contesté”, AFP & Libération.fr, 30.03.2014

http://www.liberation.fr/economie/2014/03/30/a-l-office-europeen-des-brevets-ambiance-deletere-et-president-conteste_991434

9

If “Mister President” and “Sun King” (his common nickname), also known as Benoît Battistelli, ends up announcing his resignation (hopefully forced, albeit silently) some time soon, it won’t surprise us. He won’t allow himself to publicly accept defeat (get fired), he has already threatened to resign (fall on his sword under great pressure with suicidal tendencies), much to the expectation of Wouter Pors, an IP practitioner widely known around Europe. It would also be somewhat poetic a justice given the number of suicides Battistelli et al. are claimed to have caused.

IRC Proceedings: May 31st – June 27th, 2015

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: May 31st – June 6th, 2015

GNOME Gedit

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IRC Proceedings: June 7th – June 13th, 2015

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IRC Proceedings: June 14th – June 20th, 2015

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IRC Proceedings: June 21st – June 27th, 2015

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Enter the IRC channels now

Links 28/6/2015: Manjaro Linux Cinnamon 0.8.13, VectorLinux 7.1

Posted in News Roundup at 11:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Enterprise DevOps, open source hit Target’s bull’s-eye

    No matter how many times we say DevOps is a culture and a mindset, it’s hard to deny that it is also a fairly sizeable chest of tools.

    Target operates two main data centers to support its retail locations as well as distribution centers. The retail giant moved to an enterprise DevOps model to empower the backend IT team to provide technology services in an entrepreneurial way.

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open source project grows & prunes trees into furniture (Video)

      Eight years sounds like a long time to make a chair, but Munro insists that this method is the “faster, cheaper and more efficient” than the conventional method of mass production. Munro estimates that his grove of furniture has offset 5,000 kilograms of carbon since its initial planting, and only uses the equivalent energy consumed by ten 60-watt lightbulbs burning for eight hours per day, for a year. Full Grown furniture is estimated to have only one-quarter of the carbon footprint of conventionally mass-made furnishings.

    • Open Hardware

      • Italian makers unveil the Felfil, an open source 3d printing filament extruder

        Among other interesting parts of the open source project – which has been released under the Creative Commons license for non-commercial use and can be downloaded over at Felfil.com – is that the design team has incorporated a number of commonly found objects into their final design. Among others include a bicycle chain and a windshield wiper motor. The decision to use these found parts certainly falls in line with the team’s dedication towards “giving new life to unused components”.

Leftovers

  • Computers are Bullshit

    Not really, no. Computers are exciting, liberating technology that are doing wonderful things in the world. I’m a technologist who is saddened by the state of computing, the things we’ve given up in an effort to digitize the world. We’ve given up privacy for the ability to show people what we’re eating, we’ve traded the ability to live without needing corporate overlords for the ability to always know if someone at work needs to get a hold of us. Technologists can be more closed minded and insular than anyone else while claiming to be liberal and open-minded. Tech culture and Silicon Valley culture make me sad.

  • Map shows where world’s oldest and youngest populations live

    Using data from the CIA Factbook, Global Post created graphics to visualize the median age of every country in the world. The world’s 15 youngest countries are all in Africa.

  • Security

    • Drupal Core – Critical – Multiple Vulnerabilities – SA-CORE-2015-002

      A vulnerability was found in the OpenID module that allows a malicious user to log in as other users on the site, including administrators, and hijack their accounts.

      This vulnerability is mitigated by the fact that the victim must have an account with an associated OpenID identity from a particular set of OpenID providers (including, but not limited to, Verisign, LiveJournal, or StackExchange).

    • Legendary hacker: We tapped into Nixon’s phone to warn him of toilet paper crisis in L.A.

      As the world dives deeper and deeper into the digital depths of technology, with most civilizations dependent on computers and networks, with phone lines kept under the scrutiny of spy agencies – isn’t it time to talk to those, who were in on things at the beginning? Today’s special guest was a pioneer of digital technologies. The man, who hacked into phone lines from the White House to Vatican – and did it just for fun. Today we talk to John “Captain Crunch” Draper – the legendary hacker is on Sophie&Co.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Transparency Reporting

    • With Its French NSA Leak, WikiLeaks Is Back

      Classified documents appear on WikiLeaks.org, revealing that the American government is spying on its allies. American officials rush to deal with a sudden diplomatic crisis while publicly refusing to comment on leaked materials. And WikiLeaks proclaims that it’s just getting started.

    • Assange, Snowden Asylum in France Doubtful – Wikileaks Spokesman

      Wikileaks spokeswoman Kristinn Hrafnsson said that France will most likely not offer political asylum to whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange regardless of the French Justice Ministry’s predictions.

    • France may offer asylum to Snowden, Assange

      After the reveal of the scandal, France summoned the U.S. ambassador while the U.S. said there will be more cooperation between the two countries. Moreover, White House wanted Hollande to be sure that he is not wiretapped. However, France gave a political response to the U.S. through saying that asylum may be offered to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

    • French minister: It’s possible asylum will be offered to Snowden, Assange

      French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said Thursday she “wouldn’t be surprised” if France decided to offer asylum to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

      Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been holed up in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy for more than two years to avoid extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors want to question him about 2010 allegations that he raped one woman and sexually molested another.

    • French Newspaper Cites U.S. “Contempt” as Reason to Offer Snowden Asylum

      France should respond to the U.S.’s “contempt” for its allies by giving Edward Snowden asylum, the leftist French daily newspaper Libération declared on Thursday.

      France would send “a clear and useful message to Washington, by granting this bold whistleblower the asylum to which he is entitled,” editor Laurent Joffrin wrote (translated from the French) in an angry editorial titled “Un seul geste” — or “A single gesture.”

    • French Asylum For Snowden And Assange Would Send ‘Clear Message’ To US

      French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira would “absolutely not be surprised” if whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received asylum in France.

      “It would be a symbolic gesture,” Taubira told French news channel BFMTV on Thursday, adding that it would not be her decision to offer asylum, but that of the French Prime Minister and President.

    • New NSA Whistleblower behind French presidential surveillance leak

      American and European security agencies are reportedly investigating a possible new whistleblower behind the WikiLeaks publication that exposed alleged NSA spying on top French officials, including three presidents.

      The website on Tuesday released what appear to be classified NSA documents alleging the US agency spied on three successive French presidents: Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and incumbent François Hollande.

    • WikiLeaks: France plays the victim in the intelligence game

      French officials have reacted with outrage to new WikiLeaks revelations that the US spied on French presidents. But some analysts say the response is just an act of political theatre from a nation that does some significant spying of its own.

    • 5 things we’ve learned from the Saudi Arabia Wikileaks documents

      Friday’s document drop consisted of around 60,000 different files. Almost all of these documents are scanned pieces of paper, written in Arabic.

      Wikileaks claim they have more than half a million files, and they’re going to be released in batches of tens of thousands over the next few weeks.

      Naturally, with this many documents, there’s a lot of inconsequential memos that don’t give too much away. However, only around 12 per cent of the documents have been released so far, and they contain some very important information.

    • WikiLeaks exposes Saudi liquor runs, Clinton’s passport

      WikiLeaks’ publication of more than 60,000 Saudi documents has set pens racing across the Middle East with disclosures about the secretive Arab monarchy’s foreign affairs. But lost amid the torrent of revelations are offbeat memos showing the underbelly of Riyadh’s diplomacy, including candid accounts of booze runs and pork smuggling.

    • Saudi Arabia has bailed out failing Middle East media organizations in exchange for pro-Saudi coverage

      A financially troubled Lebanese TV network received a $2 million Saudi bailout in return for adopting a pro-Riyadh editorial policy.

      A news agency in Guinea got a $2,000 gift, while small publications across the Arab world received tens of thousands of dollars in inflated subscription fees.

    • WikiLeaks: Saudis tried to shield students from US scandal

      A group of Saudi students caught in a cheating scandal at a Montana college were offered flights home by their kingdom’s diplomats to avoid the possibility of deportation or arrest, according to a cache of Saudi Embassy memos recently published by WikiLeaks and a senior official at the school involved.

    • A Cheating Scandal With Diplomatic Dimensions

      That scandal came back to life this week when the Associated Press reported on Saudi Arabian embassy memos released by WikiLeaks suggesting that almost all of the students who were involved were Saudis studying in the U.S. on government scholarships and that their government attempted to shield them from potential criminal liability.

    • Chancellor says no conspiracy in flying out Saudi students

      Montana Tech’s chancellor said Tuesday that he did not conspire to fly students involved in a grade-changing scandal out of the U.S., despite recently published Saudi Embassy memos saying he suggested removing them from the country to avoid deportation or arrest.

    • Blackketter: Audit techniques now safeguard Tech transcripts

      Documents published by WikiLeaks recently revealed that many of the students who had their grades changed were Saudis, and that they gave tokens of appreciation to a college employee who changed their transcripts.

    • After WikiLeaks scandal, Montana college chancellor says transcripts safe
    • How Saudi funded Rs 1,700 crore for Wahabi influence in India

      Last year violence broke out near a Mosque in Bommanhalli, Bengaluru and what was being termed as minor tiff was in fact a case of some youth trying to impose the Wahabi preachings.

    • Why the CIA isn’t covering up a Saudi-9/11 connection in their declassified commission report

      It’s no secret that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi nationals, and speculation has long existed as to whether the oil-rich country had a hand in aiding al-Qaeda’s actions on that fateful day. Conspiracy theorists have long speculated that the U.S. is hiding a Saudi connection to 9/11 due to their high reliance on their petroleum.

    • WikiLeaks Reveals Saudi Arabia”s Plans against Syria

      Damascus, Jun 25 (Prensa Latina) Documents revealed by WikiLeaks show the Saudi government”s commitment to the terrorist groups al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

      International media and several websites on Thursday published letters and documents that confirm Saudi Arabia’s financial, logistic and military support for the armed extremist groups that operate in Arab countries, mainly in Syria.

    • France attempted to restart Israel-Palestinian talks behind US’s back: WikiLeaks

      France sought to go ahead with a bid to restart direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in 2011, and even considered keeping other world powers out of the effort and issuing an ultimatum to the United States, according to a leaked cable released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday.

    • IT tools can help declassification backlog, but is there funding?

      The federal government is facing a mounting pile of electronic documents and other material that are due to be reviewed for declassification. But there just aren’t enough people and enough budget to meet the statutory deadlines.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Why the Saudis Are Going Solar

      Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammad Al Saud belongs to the family that rules Saudi Arabia. He wears a white thawb and ghutra, the traditional robe and headdress of Arab men, and he has a cavernous office hung with portraits of three Saudi royals. When I visited him in Riyadh this spring, a waiter poured tea and subordinates took notes as Turki spoke. Everything about the man seemed to suggest Western notions of a complacent functionary in a complacent, oil-rich kingdom.

      [...]

      Such talk sounds revolutionary in Saudi Arabia, for decades a poster child for fossil-fuel waste. The government sells gasoline to consumers for about 50 cents a gallon and electricity for as little as 1 cent a kilowatt-hour, a fraction of the lowest prices in the United States. As a result, the highways buzz with Cadillacs, Lincolns, and monster SUVs; few buildings have insulation; and people keep their home air conditioners running—often at temperatures that require sweaters—even when they go on vacation.

    • What Do You Do When Your Land Sinks Into the Earth?

      Slowly, the earth began moving. The ground underneath buildings started to sink as the water supporting it was pumped to the surface. One family reported a quarter-inch crack that started in the kitchen floor and began creeping throughout the house.

    • Emerging Israel gas deal ignites fierce debate

      When natural gas was discovered a few years ago off the shores of resource-poor Israel, it was heralded as nothing short of a miracle, but an emerging deal with developers has been plagued by criticism, with opponents accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of caving to a monopoly.

      After long negotiations, a government committee has struck a deal with the firms, which aims to break up their monopolistic control of Israel’s gas reserves and introduce competition while maintaining incentives for fresh investment. But liberal lawmakers and environmentalists say the deal would squander a national treasure.

  • Finance

    • IMF and USA set to ruin Ghana

      Just ten years ago, Ghana had the most reliable electricity supply in all of Africa and the highest percentage of households connected to the grid in all of Africa – including South Africa. The Volta River Authority, the power producer and distributor was, in my very considerable experience, the best run and most efficient public utility in all of Africa. Indeed it was truly world class, and Ghana was proud of it.

      Obviously the sight of truly successful public owned and run enterprise was too much of a threat to the neo-liberal ideologues of the IMF and World Bank. When Ghana needed some temporary financial assistance (against a generally healthy background) the IMF insisted that VRA be broken up. Right wing neoliberal dogma was applied to the Ghanaian electricity market. Electricity was separated between production and distribution, and private sector Independent Power Producers introduced.

      The result is disaster. There are more power cuts in Ghana than ever in its entire history as an independent state. Today Ghana is actually, at this moment, producing just 900 MW of electricity – half what it could produce ten years ago. This is not the fault of the NDC or the NPP. It is the fault of the IMF.

    • NYT Warns Greece to Accept Endless Depression–Because Default Might Be Painful

      First, it is difficult to describe the default in Argentina as a disaster. The economy had been plummeting prior to the default, which occurred at the end of the year in 2001. The country’s GDP had actually fallen more before the default than it did after the default. (This is not entirely clear on the graph, since the data is annual. At the point where the default took place in December of 2001, Argentina’s GDP was already well below the year-round average.) While the economy did fall more sharply after the default, it soon rebounded, and by the end of 2003 it had regained all the ground lost following the default.

      Argentina’s economy continued to grow rapidly for several more years, rising above pre-recession levels in 2004. Given the fuller picture, it is difficult to see the default as an especially disastrous event, even if it did lead to several months of uncertainty for the people of Argentina.

      In this respect, it is worth noting that Paul Volcker is widely praised in policy circles for bringing down the US inflation rate. To accomplish this goal, he induced a recession that pushed the unemployment rate to almost 11 percent. So the idea that short-term pain might be a price worth paying for a longer-term benefit is widely accepted in policy circles.

    • The 1% are changing America. It’s our move.

      The moment approaches when every American sees that the 1% are taking it away. Then we each make a choice to go with the flow or resist. Here are a few events that show this time is close. I’ve predicted the events leading to this point, but have no idea how we’ll react. Much depends on our choice.

    • The Real Reason Russia and China Are Dumping U.S. Debt

      You see, when the dollar reigns supreme, countries like China and Russia unwittingly find themselves paying for U.S. military expansion.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • ACTION ALERT: NPR Celebrates Fast-Track Victory With an All-Corporate Lobbyist Segment

      After the Senate joined the House of Representatives in granting President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements, National Public Radio aired one report (Morning Edition, 6/25/15) on the legislative action that paves the way for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and other corporate-friendly international deals.

    • Europe Seeks to Counter Kremlin Success Pushing World View

      Larry King’s back on the air, beaming his high-octane brand of talk to households around the world. Where can you catch him? Kremlin-backed television.

      Moscow wants you to pay better attention to what it’s saying, and to better reach your eyes and ears it’s spending around a half-billion dollars a year and carrying top-name talent like King and former governor and professional wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

    • Europe seeks to counter Kremlin ‘success’ world view
    • Department Of Homeland Security Still Controls What You Read

      With all of the establishment media owned by just a handful of corporations, six to be exact, it’s never been easier for the U.S. government to manipulate the news. A diversity of outlets, from websites to traditional newspapers, repeat the same stories to create an illusion of choice that allows propaganda to take root in the American imagination.

      Infiltration of the media by intelligence agencies has been standard practice since at least the 1950s, as exposed by watchdog journalist Carl Bernstein in a landmark 1977 report for Rolling Stone.

      “The use of journalists has been among the most productive means of intelligence‑gathering employed by the CIA,” wrote Bernstein.

  • Censorship

    • List of BBC web pages which have been removed from Google’s search results

      Since a European Court of Justice ruling last year, individuals have the right to request that search engines remove certain web pages from their search results. Those pages usually contain personal information about individuals.

      Following the ruling, Google removed a large number of links from its search results, including some to BBC web pages, and continues to delist pages from BBC Online.

      The BBC has decided to make clear to licence fee payers which pages have been removed from Google’s search results by publishing this list of links. Each month, we’ll republish this list with new removals added at the top.

      We are doing this primarily as a contribution to public policy. We think it is important that those with an interest in the “right to be forgotten” can ascertain which articles have been affected by the ruling. We hope it will contribute to the debate about this issue. We also think the integrity of the BBC’s online archive is important and, although the pages concerned remain published on BBC Online, removal from Google searches makes parts of that archive harder to find.

    • Tim Cook takes Apple down the dark road of censorship

      A couple of days ago, I wrote about the difficulties Apple would face if it tried to censor the Confederate flag in its online stores. Unfortunately, the company – under Tim Cook’s leadership – wasted no time in engaging in reactionary censorship of the Confederate flag in its app store.

    • Confederate Flag Purge Goes Nuts Almost Immediately, Hits Harmless Strategy Games
    • Apple reinstates removed Civil War game with the Confederate flag
    • Kanye West’s Glastonbury slot causing BBC censorship headache amid fears of sweary set
    • Julian Assange: Mainstream Media Rife With Censorship

      Julian Assange (JA): We have contracts with more than a hundred media organizations around the world, still. But it varies among mainstream press outlets. For example, the one in Pakistan can be great on issues outside of Pakistan. Issues inside Pakistan are different. It’s the same for Russia Today, outside Russia and Ukraine, it can be great, but inside Russia is a different story and through this we need to understand the political and economic dynamics that mean the organization might be trustworthy on one matter and not trustworthy on another matter.

    • Australian senate passes controversial anti-piracy, website-blocking laws

      In the eyes of at least one intellectual property academic, the passing of controversial anti-piracy website-blocking legislation in the senate on Monday night represented “a very dark day for the internet in Australia”.

      But for the film and TV industry, which has been battling online piracy at record levels, it was a watershed moment. Finally they could seek a remedy in the courts to block access to sites offering their content for free.

    • Users Betrayed as Australia Adopts a Copyright Censorship Regime

      Since our report last week on Australia’s Internet censorship bill, the bill did indeed pass the Senate yesterday, and will become the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015. The new law provides an accelerated process for rightsholders to obtain court orders for ISPs to block sites that have the primary purpose of infringing copyright, or “facilitating” its infringement—a term that the law does not define.

    • Copyright industry buys its very own censorship regime

      The Pirate Party condemns the passage of the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 through both Houses of Parliament. The legislation means that Australia now joins a list of countries that allows individuals and companies to seek orders to censor websites they allege infringe copyright.

    • Australian Senate Give The Green Light To Anti-Piracy And Website-Blocking Laws
    • Google’s Struggle Against Censorship Heats Up

      Google, once a global bastion against censorship, is having a pretty tough time of it these days. From being forced to comply with Right To Be Forgotten legislation in the EU to pressure from numerous industries to censor results which may violate copyright, Google’s defenses against censorship are crumbling. Even Google themselves — arguably in a very positive move — is taking steps to censor their own results when it comes to “revenge porn” and hacking victims, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.

    • Hard choices for Google as judges grow bold on censorship

      Google is in a tough spot. For years, it has met censorship demands in different countries by offering a local workaround. But now some judges have caught on and are asking the company to rip out search listings worldwide – a trend that is likely to embolden more courts to do the same.

    • Citing Ben Affleck’s ‘Improper Influence,’ PBS Suspends ‘Finding Your Roots’

      PBS said on Wednesday that it was postponing a future season of “Finding Your Roots” after an investigation revealed that the actor Ben Affleck pressured producers into leaving out details about an ancestor of his who owned slaves.

      PBS will not run the show’s third season until staffing changes are made, including hiring a fact checker, it said.

    • PBS’ ‘Finding Your Roots’ Suspended Over Allegations Of Ben Affleck Censorship

      PBS has suspended the ancestry-finding program Finding Your Roots following allegations that actor Ben Affleck used his clout to get the network to censor information about a slave-owning ancestor, the Washington Post is reporting.

      Affleck appeared in a 2014 episode of Finding Your Roots that the actor had hoped would reveal information about his ancestors that would give credibility toward the actor’s interest in activism in progressive causes, says Post writer Sarah Kaplan. And, in fact, the show did turn up some ancestors that made Affleck look good, including an ancestor who had fought in the Revolutionary War.

    • PBS Has Buried Finding Your Roots After Ben Affleck’s Slave-Owning Ancestry Cover-Up!
    • Ben Affleck’s Genealogy Kerfuffle Might Have Cost ‘Finding Your Roots’ A Fourth Season
    • Affleck Roots show broke standards

      An episode of Finding Your Roots which omitted references to Ben Affleck’s ancestor as a slave owner violated PBS standards, the public TV service has said.

    • Alhambra Unified School District denies censorship; Students stage protest at board meeting

      Others reiterated a previous demand that the district should release to the public the reason for Nguyen’s dismissal. They also asked for accessible video recordings of future board meetings, as well as meeting minutes written in various languages to accommodate the surrounding population.

    • State GOP Chair defiant in face of coup attempt
    • State GOP Chair defiant in face of coup attempt
    • A teen whose YouTube video tested Singapore’s censorship limits has been remanded at a mental health institute

      Last month Singapore teenager Amos Yee was found guilty of circulating obscene imagery and “wounding religious feelings,” after posting a YouTube rant in which he criticized the recently deceased Lee Kuan Yew, the nation’s widely revered first prime minister. Today Yee was scheduled to receive his sentence.

      Instead, he has been remanded at a mental health institute for a few weeks.

      A district judge said that because Yee possibly suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, she’ll explore other sentencing options besides the up to three years in prison Yee faced.

    • Blogger in Singapore faces financial ruin following defamation suit

      “If we want our freedom, we have to fight for it,” wrote blogger Roy Ngerng last year after he was sued for defamation by Singapore’s prime minister. The case was sparked by a blog post in which Ngerng allegedly suggested Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had misappropriated funds in a state pension system. In November, the court ruled in favor of the prime minister.

    • Singapore Blogger Faces ‘Financial Ruin’

      Criticizing the leaders of Singapore can come with a high price.

      Last year, blogger Roy Ngerng was sued for defamation by Singapore’s current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Ngerng had suggested that the leader had misappropriated funds in a state pension system.

    • Singapore teen in anti-Lee video to undergo mental tests

      A Singapore court on Tuesday ordered psychiatric tests for a teenager who made online attacks on late former leader Lee Kuan Yew as international rights advocates sought his release.

      Amos Yee, 16, will be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for two weeks to undergo further examination after previously being declared mentally and physically fit for an 18-month stint in a reformatory.

    • UN Urges Singapore To Release 16-Year-Old Blogger Amos Yee: UPDATED

      16-year-old Singaporean blogger Amos Yee is facing up to three years in prison for uploading remarks and images critical of the late Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore.

      Now, the UN Human Rights Office calls for the immediate release of Amos Yee in line with its commitment under the UN Convention on the Rights of Child.

      Amos was remanded on Jun. 2 for three weeks after he refused probation and is currently detained in Changi prison where, according to his lawyer, his physical and psychological status is deteriorating, the United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) said in a statement.

    • Poland: Journalist Lukasz Masiak fatally beaten

      Journalist Lukasz Masiak, founder of news site NaszaMlawa.pl, was attacked and killed in Poland on 14 June 2015. Masiak, who had been subject to numerous threats believed to be connected to his work, died of traumatic brain injury after being assaulted, according to TVN24.

      Launched in 2010, NaszaMlawa.pl covers Mlawa, a town of about 30,000 in the north central part of Poland. Masiak’s site reported on several controversial issues, including the dealings of local businessmen, drug use involving participants of the local mixed martial arts league, incidents involving Roma citizens in the area and the botched investigation into the death of a young woman. He received death threats following the latter story.

      The attack on 31-year-old Masiak took place in the bathroom of a local establishment at about 2am on 14 June. Police have issued an international arrest warrant for Bartosz Nowicki, a 29-year-old mixed martial arts fighter. Two people who were earlier detained have now been released. Police consider them witnesses to the incident.

    • Oppose political censorship at the University of Western Sydney!

      The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) calls on all students to oppose the political censorship imposed on the IYSSE student club at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Bankstown campus.

      [...]

      Significantly, IYSSE supporters were first forced to shut down a campaign in April, amid a deluge of militarist propaganda by the entire political establishment, including the universities, to glorify the centenary of the “Anzac Day” British-led invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli.

      On April 23, IYSSE supporters distributed statements advertising a Socialist Equality Party public meeting entitled “Anzac Day, the glorification of militarism and the drive to World War III.” The leaflets called on students, workers and young people to oppose the political censorship of that meeting by the Labor Party-controlled Burwood Council, which cancelled a booking for the event, and the University of Sydney, which refused to permit the meeting to be held on its campus.

    • What is Facebook not telling us about machiavellian censorship?

      Take a browse through the data that’s presented for each country, and you’ll eventually come to the USA. While ‘Content Restrictions’ in Turkey are justified (“We restricted access to items primarily reported by the Turkish courts (and Access Providers Union) and Telecommunications Authority under local law 5651, which covers a range of offenses including defamation of Ataturk, personal rights violations, and personal privacy”) as are those in Russia, the Content Restrictions section is notable by its absence from the United States’ page.

    • Israel Culture Minister Booed as Censorship Debate Escalates

      Culture Minister Miri Regev, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party who has been unabashed in her disdain for artistic projects that criticize the Israeli occupation, was at Tel Aviv’s Einav Theater on Friday to present an award. She was booed by the protesters as she entered the theater, and heckled by several audience members as she took the stage.

    • Al-Midan theater: We’ll turn to European Union for funding

      In reaction to culture minister’s decision to freeze funds to Arab theater which staged play about Israeli-Arab terrorist, a meeting of Arab artists and MKs says it will seek funds from the EU.

    • Israeli artists fear political censorship from government

      The newly appointed Minister of Culture Miri Regev sparks strong criticism. A series of recent statements lead to believe freedom of expression could be threatened by the government’s policies.

    • Israel’s Minister of Culture Miri Regev vows to withhold funds from artists who ‘defame’ the state

      Miri Regev, the hard-right Israeli Minister of Culture, has accused the country’s artists and performers of being “tight-assed” hypocrites after they raised vocal objections to her policies, which many consider a threat to freedom of expression.

    • Note to Minister Regev: No Israeli film has delegitimized the state

      With her ‘delegitimization’ obsession, the minister has to realize her paranoia is shaking the foundations of local culture.

    • With each headline, Miri Regev grows stronger

      Two words have been embedded in the consciousness of millions of Israelis recently: Miri Regev, Miri Regev and again Miri Regev. Compared to her, who is the immigrant absorption minister, the housing minister, or even the finance minister?

    • Culture Minister Regev gets mix of heckling, silent treatment at award ceremony

      Demonstrators protest ‘atmosphere of dictatorship’ created by Likud pol day after she calls artists ‘ungrateful tight-asses’

    • Leftists Protest ‘Being Silenced’ at Theater Award Ceremony

      Twenty leftist protestors have gathered outside the Israeli Theater Awards ceremony at the Einav center in Tel Aviv on Friday, to protest alleged censorship from current Culture Minister Miri Regev (Likud).

      The activists carried blank signs and bandages on their mouths to say they are “being silenced,” so to speak.

    • ‘NYT’ focuses on fears of Hamas censorship but leaves out Israeli government’s threats

      Today’s New York Times has an interesting story about a satirical political show in Gaza inspired by Jon Stewart. Headlined, “A Show Finds Humor in Gaza’s Headlines. Will Hamas Get It?” the article says the Gaza comics have screened their political show for hundreds at a theater, and aim to put the episodes on Youtube.

    • Octogenarian Arrested for Questioning WWII History on TV

      Ursula Hedwig Meta Haverbeck-Wetzel, an 86-year-old German woman who was ethnically cleansed from her home following WWII, has been arrested following her appearance on a public television program in Germany. There, she openly disputed the state-sanctioned-and-enforced “Holocaust” narrative of WWII, describing it as “the biggest and most persistent lie in history.” In many countries in Europe, including Germany, it is a crime to dispute, question or openly challenge the official narrative of the Holocaust specifically and WWII generally.

  • Privacy

    • What could the United States do to regain the trust of Brasil?

      During the approach to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s re-scheduled visit to the United States there has been much talk about what Brasil can do to improve relations between two of the Western Hemisphere’s largest countries. The majority of reporting focuses on Brazilian failures but most of the problem lies in Washington.

      Decades of weak engagement by the United States combined with a willful blindness towards why the Brazilian government is suspicious of the their northern neighbour’s intentions in the region have left relations near stagnant.

      As Brasil Wire discussed in Chasing the Dragon the United States has too often confused its own interests with those of Brasil. Brasil is a friend to the United States, but Brazilian leaders, especially those on the left, have had little interest in engaging with Washington as anything but equals. The Brazilian leadership did not pursue closer relations with China, and to a much more limited extent Russia out of an ideological position, but a cold pragmatism that would make Henry Kissinger proud.

    • James Risen, Obama, Holder and the NSA

      Earlier this year I did an hour long interview with James Risen. We discussed his case with the Department of Justice, where he was being threatened with incarceration for refusing to reveal his source who gave him insights about NSA activities. This was before Obama and Eric Holder decided to drop the prosecution against him. I saw him give the keynote speech at the luncheon for the Investigative Reporters and Editors 2015 conference and after his talk, in which he lambasted former Attorney General Eric Holder, I asked him to do a brief interview, based on his comments on Obama, Eric Holder and their legacies.

    • My name is only real enough to work at Facebook, not to use on the site

      I always knew this day would come. The day that Facebook decided my name was not real enough and summarily cut me off from my friends, family and peers and left me with the stark choice between using my legal name or using a name people would know me by. With spectacular timing, it happened while I was at trans pride and on the day the Supreme Court made same sex marriage legal in the US.

    • CIA director talks of spying on House members, June 25, 1975

      On this day in 1975, William Colby, director of the CIA, told members of a House subcommittee that they and their congressional colleagues were not “immune” from surveillance by the agency during their travels abroad.

      Testifying before the House Government Operations Subcommittee on Government Information and Individual Rights, Colby said “if a congressman appeared abroad with some group that was a legitimate target of this agency that name would undoubtedly appear in the files of that group” and would show up in the CIA’s computer system.

    • Facebook Recruits Yahoo’s Alex Stamos As New Security Chief
    • Facebook nabs Yahoo’s chief information security officer
    • Facebook! Exfiltrates! Yahoo! Security! Boss!
    • Why Facebook Poached Yahoo’s NSA Hating Chief Security Officer [VIDEO]
    • CIA-backed tech company finds stolen government log-ins all over Web

      A CIA-backed technology company has found logins and passwords for 47 government agencies strewn across the Web — available for hackers, spies and thieves.

      Recorded Future, a social media data mining firm backed by the CIA’s venture capital arm, says in a report that login credentials for nearly every federal agency have been posted on open Internet sites for those who know where to look.

      “The presence of these credentials on the open Web leaves these agencies vulnerable to espionage, socially engineered attacks, and tailored spear-phishing attacks against their workforce,” the company says.

      The company says logins and passwords were found connected with the departments of Defense, Justice, Treasury and Energy, as well as the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence.

    • US government log-ins, passwords easy to find on the open Web, researcher says
    • Passwords From 47 Government Agencies Leaked Online
    • WikiLeaks: NSA eavesdropped on the last 3 French presidents

      WikiLeaks published documents late Tuesday that it says show the US National Security Agency eavesdropped on the last three French presidents, releasing material which appeared to capture officials in Paris talking candidly about Greece’s economy, relations with Germany – and, ironically, American espionage.

    • NSA’s high-level spy targets
    • WikiLeaks says documents show NSA eavesdropped on French presidents

      Angry and embarrassed, France summoned the U.S. ambassador Wednesday to respond to the revelations by WikiLeaks that the U.S. National Security Agency eavesdropped on three successive French presidents and other top officials.

    • How France could get revenge for the NSA spying

      I told you yesterday about the leaked files showing that the NSA wiretapped three French presidents since 1995. France is understandably upset, what with being an ally and all.

    • UPDATE: France says US must repair damage from NSA spying reports
    • French Prime Minister: US Must Act Fast to Repair Damage From NSA Spying Revelations
    • Tactless courtship—NSA’s espionage in France

      On June 23rd, WikiLeaks unveiled a number of documents from the National Security Agency’s “Espionnage Elysée” program, that demonstrated the NSA’s targeted espionage against high level French government officials, including ministers and three presidents of the French Republic. This espionage against U.S. allies is tactless and is likely to fray relations with U.S. allies and must be reformed.

    • Two Overlooked Aspects Of Those Leaks About NSA Spying On French Presidents

      Of course, Mr Crypto himself, Bruce Schneier, did spot it, and pointed out it could be one of his “other” US intelligence community leakers, listed a couple of months ago, or even a completely new one. As that post shows, there are now a few people around that are leaking secret documents, and that’s a pretty significant trend, since you might expect enhanced security measures taken in the wake of Snowden’s leaks would have discouraged or caught anyone who attempted to follow suit.

    • New NSA whistleblower suspected behind French president surveillance leak

      American and European security agencies are reportedly investigating a possible new whistleblower behind the WikiLeaks publication that exposed alleged NSA spying on top French officials, including three presidents.

      The website on Tuesday released what appear to be classified NSA documents alleging the US agency spied on three successive French presidents: Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and incumbent François Hollande.

    • Obama calls Hollande to promise NSA is no longer spying on French president

      Barack Obama has assured the French president, François Hollande, that American intelligence services are no longer tapping his phone. During a brief telephone call, the American leader was reported to have reiterated a pledge made two years ago to stop spying on his French counterpart, according to Hollande’s office.

    • Obama reassures France after ‘unacceptable’ NSA spying

      U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed in a phone call with his French counterpart Francois Hollande on Wednesday Washington’s commitment to end spying practices deemed “unacceptable” by its allies.

    • French ministers flock to US despite ‘unacceptable’ NSA phone-tap revelations

      French ministers seemed keen to resume business as usual with the US on Thursday, even though Paris the day before declared American wiretaps on President François Hollande and others “unacceptable”. Despite WikiLeaks’ revelation of the snooping, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron continued his visit to the US, while promising to raise the question in Washington.

    • NSA: connecting people
    • NSA, GCHQ Excesses Stem From Their Role as Secret Guardians and Protectors

      On Tuesday, WikiLeaks published documents revealing that the NSA had secretly spied on former French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and current President Francois Hollande over a period of at least six years.

      [...]

      In another revelation, GCHQ spied on South African Legal Resources Centre and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Britain’s official Investigatory Powers Tribunal revealed.

    • Still Funny? Paris Diplomats Joke About NSA Spying Before WikiLeaks Release

      During the meeting of the Normandy group in Paris, Russia’s Foreign Ministry noticed how the microphones were operating “strangely”, turning on and off by themselves; the blinking lights caused the diplomats to joke that the US is probably up to its usual tricks again. One however should give it a thought in light of WikiLeaks recent revelations.

    • Q&A: All you need to know about WikiLeaks claims that NSA spied on French leaders

      WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he was confident the documents were authentic, noting that WikiLeaks’ previous mass disclosures — including a large cache of Saudi diplomatic memos released last week — have proven to be accurate.

    • No friends or enemies in spying game

      Despite the furious protests of France over the latest U.S. spying claims, experts say that in the intelligence game there are no friends or enemies — only interests — and all means are justified to pursue them.

    • The progressive roots of NSA’s privacy violations

      The NSA’s actions have roots in progressive New Deal ideology, with its contempt for the constitutional separation of powers and private property rights. More specifically, this debate is traced to the New Deal-era erosion of the centuries-old rule of law that only judges may issue warrants, and after a showing of probable cause.

    • Steinmeier: NSA spying activities to affect relations

      The NSA’s spying activities in France will have an impact on transatlantic relations, Germany’s foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier told DW in an interview. He also called for new approaches in the attempt to stem violence in Ukraine.

    • Privacy is awesome, in theory: Column

      When it comes to intrusions on their privacy, Americans don’t care as much as they think they should. Most of us feel the same way about privacy as we do about African children: We care just enough to say we care.

      According to a Pew Research Center survey last month, 90 percent of Americans consider their privacy to be “important,” but 10 percent or less take significant steps to safeguard it. Lots of people (59 percent) clear their cookies and browser histories — probably because they would be divorced if they didn’t — but only 10 percent bother to encrypt their phone calls, texts or emails. Our privacy is important, but not so important as to require more than three seconds of effort.

    • How the NSA Started Investigating the New York Times’ Warrantless Wiretapping Story

      Three days after the New York Times revealed that the U.S. government was secretly monitoring the calls and emails of people inside the United States without court-approved warrants, the National Security Agency issued a top-secret assessment of the damage done to intelligence efforts by the story. The conclusion: the information could lead terrorists to try to evade detection. Yet the agency gave no specific examples of investigations that had been jeopardized.

    • Google’s ‘listening network’ could be vulnerable to US govt, NSA – Falkvinge to RT

      Voice recognition technologies are part of the future, but should trigger concern that IT companies are essentially building “listening networks” which can be exploited by the likes of the NSA, Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge told RT.

    • Google-NSA Nexus: New Chromium Browser Installs Eavesdropping Tool on Your PC

      By now, most experts will admit that Google is one giant data and intelligence gathering operation. This latest browser revelation (see full story below) only confirms what we already suspected.

    • Google is Worse Than the NSA.

      If you’re running Google Chrome as your browser – and we used to – you might want to reconsider it. The bottom line is that Google has built a “feature” into Chrome that, without your knowledge and without your permission, turns the microphone of your computer (and phone?) on and listens to everything you say.

    • Has the CIA Asked the FISC to Restart Its Bulk Collection Program?

      There’s a curious gap in the documents currently posted on the FISC’s public docket — one that suggests the NSA call records program isn’t the only type of bulk collection the government has asked the FISC to reauthorize following the USA Freedom Act’s passage on June 2. It’s an exercise in reading tea leaves at this point, but the gap raises important and unanswered questions about bulk collection programs we still know little about.

      In the weeks since the USA Freedom Act became law, the FISC has published a series of filings and orders on its website. Those documents indicate that the government has submitted at least four applications for orders under the post-USA Freedom version of Section 215. One of them, docketed as BR 15-75, is the government’s application to restart the NSA’s bulk call records program. (The “BR” stands for FISA’s “business records” provision, while “15” stands for the year.) Two others, numbered BR 15-77 and BR 15-78, are addressed by Judge Saylor’s opinion concerning the appointment of an amicus curiae and the question of whether Section 215’s brief expiration made gibberish of Congress’ effort to renew the law in the USA Freedom Act. Based on the description in the opinion and the scope of the issues addressed, one can fairly surmise that these are targeted applications for records under Section 215.

    • NSA and GHCQ targeting antivirus developers, say Snowden documents

      New documents provided by former American secret service employee-turned whistleblower Edward Snowden claim that the U.S. and UK security services have been carrying out attacks against antivirus developers around the world, including Russian company Kaspersky Lab.

    • Kaspersky says NSA, GCHQ tracking its activities

      Popular antivirus company, Kaspersky has made a controversial announcement declaring that it is being attacked by hackers, who have been tracking the activities of the Russian company. A report from Engadget reveals that a few of these unwarranted activities are also sourced from major intelligentsia like the American NSA and UK’s GCHQ.

    • NSA, British counterpart targeted cybersecurity firms

      The U.S. and United Kingdom have been trying to find ways around anti-virus and security software by surreptitiously studying the products and the companies that make them, according to various published reports.

    • GCHQ and NSA broke antivirus software so that they could spy on people, leaks indicate

      The British and American spy agencies deliberately broke anti-virus software so that they could read the messages of their citizens, according to new leaks.

      Both the NSA and GCHQ have long been said to have deliberately reversed engineer software so that they could find weaknesses in software and exploit them to read communications. But new documents show that the agencies did so to some of the most popular antivirus software, potentially exposing hundreds of millions of people to dangerous viruses, according to a report from The Intercept.

    • After NSA Targeting, Google Researcher Exposes ‘Trivial’ Antivirus Hacking

      Earlier this week, fresh Edward Snowden leaks showed how the National Security Agency (NSA) targeted a range of foreign antivirus firms. It was no surprise intelligence agencies were interested in exploiting antivirus; such security software has access to most files across operating systems, from Windows to Macs.

    • NSA Leaker Edward Snowden To Stay In Russia For Now

      Apparently former NSA contractor and secret document leaker Edward Snowden is not planning on leaving Moscow anytime soon. According to Snowden’s attorney Anatoly Kucherena, who was recently interviewed by Interfax, he can’t go back to the U.S. right now given the various legal charges against him are politically motivated.

    • Disturbing Video Incites Police Rebellion Against Ecuador’s President Correa

      The video, which appears to incite rebellion among the ranks of the Ecuadorean police department, is particularly alarming due to the role of the police in a 2010 coup attempt against President Rafael Correa.

    • On the Trail of Turkey’s Terrorist Grey Wolves

      Turkey, as a NATO country near Russia’s border, developed a powerful “deep state” where intelligence operatives, terrorists and gangsters crossed paths and shared political alliances, a grim reality that author Martin A. Lee explored in 1997 and a dark legacy that reaches to the present.

    • US, NATO powers intensify preparations for nuclear war
    • Luxembourg scholar explodes myths about Tibet independence

      Now we know that the separatists in Tibet have been in touch with the US government since the 1950s. The CIA and the Dalai Lama have always held hands. His brother, especially his oldest brother Thubten Jigme Norbu, was recruited by the CIA’s “Radio Free Asia.” Gyalo Dondrub was recruited as CIA’s anti-Communism terrorist.

    • America’s U.N. Ambassador Continues Standing Up for Nazis

      Recently, President Barack Obama’s friend whom he appointed to represent this Vcountry at the United Nations visited Ukraine and used the Ukrainian-language translation and variant of the German Nazi Party’s “Deutschland über alles,” or “Germany above all,” to honor Ukraine’s own racist fascists, that nation’s ideological nazis, whom the U.S. had used in February 2014 for overthrowing Ukraine’s neutralist democratically elected President. This was not our U.N. Ambassador’s first foray into international nazi political pandering.

    • Ukraine’s Pres. Poroshenko Says Overthrow of Yanukovych Was a Coup

      Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko requests the supreme court of Ukraine to declare that his predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, was overthrown by an illegal operation; in other words, that the post-Yanukovych government, including Poroshenko’s own Presidency, came into power from a coup, not from something democratic, not from any authentic constitutional process at all.

    • Georgia’s Former President Lobbied US Senator

      Lobbyists representing former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili met with staffers from US Senator Marco Rubio’s office just months before Rubio called for integrating Georgia into the NATO alliance as a way of punishing Russia, a US campaign finance watchdog group said in a blog post.

    • ‘Stalin’s daughter’ delves into the life of a tyrant’s child
    • ‘Stalin’s Daughter’: The extraordinary life of a Soviet defector

      “Wherever I go, whether to Australia or some island, I will always be the political prisoner of my father’s name.” Such was the lament of Svetlana Alliluyeva, whose life sentence it was to be the only daughter of Joseph Stalin.

    • Russian defectors living the dead end of the American dream in distant Oregon

      But their dreams of living the life they imagined defectors enjoy – having the run of Europe with new identities, invented histories and flush with money – are long gone. Instead they get to live like so many Americans, struggling to make ends meet, fighting off the debt collectors and worrying about the immigration service banging on the door.

    • Ongoing weekly demo, Tuesday evenings at NSA/NRO Menwith Hill

      Menwith Hill is the largest US spy base outside the USA. Run by the National Security Agency (National Reconnaissance Office also present), it is situated in the Yorkshire dales, approximately 8 miles from Harrogate adjacent to the A59.

    • How USA Freedom Impacts Ongoing NSA Litigation

      Digital liberties groups across the country have both celebrated and criticized the recent passage of the USA Freedom Act. Here at EFF, we did a little bit of both. While USA Freedom will undoubtedly impact the court cases challenging the NSA’s mass surveillance, the full scope of this law and how the courts and even the government will interpret it remains unclear.

      However, we do know that the government believes it can renew its daily bulk collection of telephone records during the 180-day “transition period” in which USA Freedom’s amendments to the phone records authority goes into effect. This is particularly troubling given the Second Circuit’s ruling in ACLU v. Clapper that this sort of dragnet surveillance is illegal.

    • NSA Not Yet Pointing Finger at China as Suspect in OPM Data Theft (UPDATED)
    • US to raise breach of government records at talks with China

      China has openly denied involvement in the break-in. Obama administration officials have said they are increasingly confident that China’s government, not criminal hackers, were responsible.

    • NSA Chief: Don’t Assume China Hacked OPM

      The U.S. military’s top cyber warrior says it’s merely an “assumption” that the Chinese government was behind the recent hack at the Office of Personnel Management, or OPM — and not necessarily one he shares. That puts Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, in opposition to unnamed sources within the U.S. government who blamed Beijing in June 4 interviews with the New York Times and Washington Post.

    • NSA’s Rogers Won’t Say China Did OPM Hack
    • Reports: NSA Chief Michael Rogers Declines to Attribute OPM Hack
    • Rogers mum on OPM attribution, but says hack shows value of data
    • Intercept – an account of a revolution in spying

      Gordon Corera, the BBC’s security correspondent – a difficult assignment – has written a most readable account (Intercept, Weidenfeld & Nicolson) of how computers and the internet have transformed spying, a term I use in this context to include all ways of intercepting communications, including hacking and cyber attacks, whatever the motive.

    • Will Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard be released in November?

      The Obama administration refuses to say if Pollard will be released on his scheduled parole date. Pollard can blame himself and Benjamin Netanyahu for the sorry state of affairs.

    • NSA/Surveillance: Damning new revelations and still no judicial inquiry

      FIDH and LDH recall that they filed a complaint in July 2013 aimed at the NSA, the FBI and their surveillance practices under the PRISM programme. After more than 18 months since the opening of the preliminary investigation into the case, the Paris Prosecutor had still not made clear how it would procede with this affair.

      Confronted with the Prosecu’s inaction, our organisations filed a new complaint as civil parties before the same court on 8 April 2015, hoping to shed light on the alleged violations of individual freedoms.

      FIDH and LDH deplore the fact that the French justice system has not moved forward with this complaint implicating the NSA as well as the companies that provided access to their networks, thereby contributing to the installation of the surveillance programme called PRISM. The lack of progress is all the more unacceptable considering damning new revelations showing the NSA tapped the telephones of three French presidents.

    • Rousseff Seeks U.S. Reconciliation Two Years After NSA Spying

      Brazil is seeking a rapprochement with the U.S. as the Western Hemisphere’s two largest economies try to realign interests after a decade of diplomatic skirmishes.

      Brazil president Dilma Rousseff will arrive in New York on Saturday for a five-day tour including San Francisco. It is her first official travel to Washington since she canceled a state visit in 2013 after allegations the U.S. had spied on her.

    • Congresswoman Esty voted wrong on NSA bill

      Privacy is a non-partisan issue. In the final vote, 88 Members of the House, almost equally divided between the two parties, voted against this pyrite bill.

    • NSA Chief Wants to Watch, as Well as Listen and Read

      The National Security Agency, while primarily occupied by sweeping up billions of phone calls, emails, texts and social media messages each day, wants better visual information about the earth and its residents, too, Admiral Michael Rogers said Wednesday.

      “Signals intelligence … ain’t enough, you guys,” the NSA chief told a gathering of contractors in the geospatial intelligence business. “We gotta create a much broader picture.”

      We need “the ability to visualize,” he explained, because “man is fundamentally a visual creature.”

    • NSA to crunch big data in AWS C2S

      The National Security Agency is moving some of its IT operations to Amazon’s cloud.

      The National Security Agency (NSA) was represented by Alex Voultepsis, chief of the engineering and planning process for the NSA’s Intelligence Community Special Operations Group, at a session during the AWS Public Sector Symposium here this week. Voultepsis said during a panel discussion the agency plans to migrate some of its infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

  • Civil Rights

    • Hastings’ Lessons From the Grave—Have We Learned Anything?

      Hastings was known for challenging conventional wisdom and investigating authority at the highest levels. With a Polk Award-winning article in Rolling Stone, he brought down General Stanley McChrystal, commander of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and US Forces-Afghanistan.

      At the time of his death, Hastings had been working on a story about CIA Director John Brennan. The president of Strategic Forecasting Inc. (“Stratfor”), a CIA contract global intelligence firm, has described Brennan in secret emails as someone on a “witch hunt” of investigative journalists. Brennan, of course, has denied these claims: a CIA spokesperson told reporter Kimberly Dvorak in an email that notwithstanding WikiLeaks, “any suggestion that Director Brennan has ever attempted to infringe on constitutionally-protected press freedoms is offensive and baseless.”

      Is it possible that Brennan felt threatened by the content of Hastings’ would-be story? If yes, how would the CIA have responded to such an expose ?

    • Detention centres and State censorship

      Australia’s detention centres have become propaganda tools of terror.

    • Leaked Damage Assessment Shows Government Mostly Interested In Investigating Leakers, Withholding Information From Public

      The Intercept has just released an interesting document from its Snowden stash: an unredacted damage assessment of the New York Times’ 2005 exposure of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program — a program that saw the agency monitoring the emails and phone calls of US citizens.

    • Trial Starts Tuesday for Diego Gomez, Colombian Student Facing Prison Time for Sharing a Paper Online

      Fundación Karisma is continuing to support Gomez in his case to fight against these excessive criminal charges. The organization says that he has good standing for a strong legal defense for two reasons. First, there was no malicious intent behind his sharing the paper online. Second, there was no actual harm to the author’s economic interests as Gomez made no profit off of the paper. Under Colombian criminal law, the court must weigh both of these factors, and it would take a significant misrepresentation of facts to paint Gomez as a criminal who posted the paper online for private profit.

    • Gitmo briefing: prisoners use attorneys, media to “discredit the U.S. government”
    • CIA photos of ‘black sites’ could complicate Guantanamo trials

      Military prosecutors this year learned about a massive cache of CIA photographs of its former overseas “black sites” while reviewing material collected for the Senate investigation of the agency’s interrogation program, U.S. officials said.

      The existence of the approximately 14,000 photographs will probably cause yet another delay in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as attorneys for the defendants demand that all the images be turned over and the government wades through the material to decide what it thinks is relevant to the proceedings.

    • Photos of CIA ‘black sites’ come to light

      Military prosecutors earlier this year learned about a massive cache of CIA photographs of its former overseas “black sites” while reviewing material collected for the Senate investigation of the agency’s interrogation program, according to US officials.

      The existence of the approximately 14,000 photographs will probably cause yet another delay in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as attorneys for the defendants demand all of the images be turned over to them and the government wades through the material to decide what it thinks is relevant to the proceedings.

    • Anti-torture day: speakers call for an end to custodial torture

      Speakers at a seminar on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Torture Victims on Friday demanded to end the custodial torture by the state institutions and urged the government to Pakistan to form the anti-torture law in the country to provide justice to the victims, their families and punish the preparatory.
      Pakistan had ratified the Convention against Torture (UN CAT) in 2010 but despite passage of five years, no legislation is made against torture in Pakistan, said the speakers at a seminar on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture jointly organized by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) at Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi.

    • EIPR supports call for CIA torture ‘accountability’

      The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) supported a call from international rights groups on “the need to ensure accountability for the United States CIA torture programme”.

    • United States: Coalition Statement to U.N. Human Rights Council Demanding Accountability on CIA Torture Program – HRC29

      Last December, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the summary, findings and conclusions of its four-year investigation into the Detention and Interrogation Program operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since then, the international human rights community has reiterated the call for full transparency about and accountability for this unlawful program, in which systematic human rights violations, including the crimes under international law of torture and enforced disappearance were committed. Last March, more than 20 human rights groups called on the Council to take action and demand that the United States fulfill its international human rights obligations on truth, accountability and remedy, including by appointing a special prosecutor to conduct a comprehensive and credible criminal investigation of alleged serious crimes described in the report and to establish a special fund to compensate victims.

    • The Myth of the Bamboo Pentagon: The Vietnam War’s Phantom Enemy Headquarters

      The Vietnam War had any number of controversial battles, but the invasion of Cambodia stands out—an unnecessary, bloody move that cost the lives of hundreds of U.S. soldiers on the ground and led to widespread rioting at home, including the Kent State tragedy.

      Remarkably, a new book based on information from recently released documents confirms that one of the key rationales for this act was a mirage, a conspiracy theory. President Nixon had embarked on a mad hunt for the “Bamboo Pentagon,” a shadowy headquarters and command center from which the Communist forces were directing their side of the fighting.

    • The Honduran meltdown: Made in USA

      In May 2005, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick appeared at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington to rally support for CAFTA, a free trade agreement between the US, the Central American countries, and the Dominican Republic.

      In his remarks, Zoellick played up the notion that, for Central America and the DR, the agreement would “strengthen democracy through economic growth and open societies based on the rule of law”, while also entailing various perks for the gringos; a T-shirt reading “Made in Honduras”, he enthused, would likely contain over 60 percent US content.

    • Robert Kennedy Jr.’s 25 Truths on the Secret Negotiations between Fidel Castro and President Kennedy

      More than half a century ago, Fidel Castro and John F. Kennedy conducted secret negotiations aimed at normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba. Robert Kennedy Jr., nephew of the assassinated President, recounts these events and praises Obama’s policy of rapprochement, which is making his uncle’s “dream” a “reality(1)”.

    • Obama: U.S. Will No Longer Threaten To Prosecute Families Who Pay Terrorists Ransom

      President Barack Obama announced several changes to U.S. hostage policy on Wednesday, including that the government will no longer threaten to criminally prosecute families who pay terrorists for the release of loved ones.

    • US ransom policy shift undermines UK’s hardline stance

      Barack Obama’s decision to relax Washington’s blanket ban on paying ransoms to free hostages will be seen as belated American acceptance of an unpleasant but unavoidable necessity by west European countries criticised in the past for buying off terrorist kidnappers with cash.

    • White House imposes order on often confused ransom policy

      Following months of pressure from grieving families, President Barack Obama unveiled a slate of new policies on Wednesday intended to bring some level of standardization to how the federal government deals with international hostage situations.

    • Human rights record of U.S. criticized by China
    • US, China Exchange Criticisms on Human Rights

      The U.S. State Department has accused China of wide-ranging and routine human rights violations, prompting Beijing to shoot back with its own report slamming Washington’s “increasingly grave” rights record.

    • China says US kettle calling pot black. No kidding … Printer friendly page Print This
    • China Slams US Human Rights Record in New Report
    • China trolls U.S. on ‘arbitrary police killing of African-Americans’ after U.S. human rights rebuke

      On Thursday, the U.S. State Department released its annual report on human rights around the world, finding fault with the records of Cuba, Iran, Russia, Myanmar, and China, among other nations. In China, the report said, “repression and coercion were routine” against journalists, dissidents, ethnic minorities — Uigurs and Tibetans, especially — and lawyers that took on sensitive cases, and censorship was rampant.

    • China slams US with counter human rights report

      A day after the US released its country report, China answers back with its own, calling the US ‘a country with grim problems’

    • US Foreign Policy: A Reflection of the Legacy of Racism and National Oppression

      At the same time there is almost no debate over the redeployment of military forces in Iraq. There is almost no information about the ongoing war in Syria. Most people in the U.S. who watch the news originating from inside the country are barely aware of the war in Yemen and the role of Washington in this genocidal process.

      Consequently, we need to intensify our activism aimed at ending racism domestically and imperialist militarism around the world. These two imperatives merge when we look at the growing militarization of the police in the U.S. and the vast prison industrial complex.

    • China Lashes Out at US for ‘Terrible Human Rights Record’ Citing Police Brutality and Racism

      After the United States released a report on human rights in China on Thursday, the communist country hit back with its own report on the “terrible human rights record” in the US.

      In a scathing report, titled ‘Human Rights Record of the United States in 2014′, China rebuked the US over its problems of “rampant use of guns, frequent violent crimes and the excessive use of force by police”.

      “Plenty of facts show that, in 2014, the US, a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems,” the report said.

    • Full text of Human Rights Record of the United States in 2014 (9)
    • Full text of Human Rights Record of the United States in 2014

      On June 25 local time, the State Department of the United States released its country reports on human rights practices once again, making comments on the human rights situations in many countries while showing not a bit of regret for or intention to improve its own terrible human rights record. Plenty of facts show that, in 2014, the U.S., a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems. While its own human rights situation was increasingly grave, the U.S. violated human rights in other countries in a more brazen manner, and was given more “red cards” in the international human rights field.

    • How an eastern Idaho farm boy became a contract torturer

      Bruce Jessen has been called a war criminal. A torturer. An “American Mengele.” The retired Air Force colonel and trained psychologist was, according to a 2014 report from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, an architect of the “brutal,” “inherently unsustainable” and “deeply flawed” detainee-interrogation program that “damaged the United States’ standing in the world” in the years following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    • Obama Should Close Gitmo to End Torture of Detainees – Advocacy Group

      US President Barack Obama needs to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba detention facility to end the suffering of detainees victimized by CIA torture techniques, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Advocacy Program Manager Aliya Hana Hussain told Sputnik during a rally in Washington, DC.

    • CIA Whistleblower On Threats DOJ Should Target

      CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou speaks out on the threats the Justice Department should be targeting and how the FBI’s warning of white supremacists infiltrating law enforcement has been forgotten. Alyona cuts through the spin on Free Speech Zone.

    • Megyn Kelly Moment: Fox’s “Rising Star” Invites Anti-LGBT Hate Group Leader To Discuss Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

      Megyn Kelly invited anti-LGBT hate group leader Tony Perkins to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality. Kelly’s insistence on inviting Perkins highlights the host’s cozy relationship with the ardent anti-gay group.

    • Washington Post Reserves Dignity in Death for Some Women

      How do you know that the women whose murders the Washington Post is reporting were sex workers or dealing with substance abuse?

      Because if they weren’t, they would not be unfeelingly described as “washing up dead.”

    • CIA Engaged In Human Experimentation Torture

      They would also be wise to pay attention to the news. A few days before this vote, a new report from The Guardian explained how our use of torture against detainees in the war on terror occasionally crossed the line into human medical experimentation. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins talks about this story with attorney Michael Burg.

    • Human Experimentation

      Non-consensual experimentation on institutionalized children and adults was common in the United States before, during, and even more so after the U.S. and its allies prosecuted Nazis for the practice in 1947, sentencing many to prison and seven to be hanged. The tribunal created the Nuremberg Code, standards for medical practice that were immediately ignored back home. Some American doctors considered it “a good code for barbarians.”

    • Majority Around the World Say US Torture Methods ‘Not Justified’ – Poll

      A vast majority of people around the world say they are opposed to the US government’s enhanced interrogation techniques following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, and consider them torture, according to a new poll released by Pew Research Center on Tuesday.

    • Italy denies role in CIA’s extraordinary rendition of Egyptian imam

      Omar, also known as Osama Mustafa Hassan Nasr, brought the case after kidnapping convictions against top Italian spies were overthrown on appeal last year.

    • Italy denies role in CIA rendition of imam

      Italy denied any involvement on Tuesday in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” of an Egyptian imam kidnapped in Milan in 2003 on charges of terrorist connections.

    • Italy Denies Role in CIA Plot to Abduct Egyptian Imam

      Italy has denied having any involvement in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” of an Egyptian imam who was kidnapped by US officials in Milan in 2003 on charges of having terrorist connections.

    • Italy denies role in CIA extraordinary rendition of imam

      Italy denied any involvement on Tuesday in the CIA s “extraordinary rendition” of an Egyptian imam kidnapped in Milan in 2003 on charges of terrorist connections.

    • I Was Tortured. I Know How Important It Is to Hold the CIA Accountable.

      More than once, I begged my torturers to kill me. Years later, I think about it and wonder if I really meant it. I think I did, at the time.

      I was tied up, nude and blindfolded, and electrically prodded all over my body. Twice they pretended they were executing me by placing a gun to my head or in my mouth and clicking the trigger.

      To my abusers, who interrupted this torture with question after question, this was merely “enhanced interrogation.”

      That was decades ago, in Argentina. But today, U.S. political figures — including presidential candidate Rick Perry — are using this same euphemism to describe the CIA’s torture and ill treatment during its secret detention operations from 2002 to 2008. And earlier this month, John Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight” reported that of 14 declared U.S. presidential candidates, only four said they would keep an executive order put in place by President Barack Obama in his first days in office that seeks to ensure the U.S. does not commit torture.

      When U.S. media and political figures repeat the euphemism enhanced interrogation, they reframe the debate in a way that implicitly downplays the pain and inhumanity of torture. Instead, torture becomes a matter of rational decision making and calibrated legality.

    • ACLU, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch Urge DOJ to Appoint Special Prosecutor for CIA Torture
    • Rights groups call on US Justice Department to probe CIA torture

      Three major rights groups called on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to investigate the CIA for alleged torture and other rights violations of prisoners in the agency’s custody.

    • Over 100 International Groups Call on US to Prosecute Torture
    • Rights groups petition US to create special prosecutor for torture claims
    • Human rights groups ask attorney general to order new CIA torture probe
    • CIA Torture Report: Human Rights Groups Write Letter Urging Attorney General Loretta Lynch To Pursue Criminal Investigations

      A joint letter sent by human rights groups to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Tuesday called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques revealed by a Senate report released late last year. The letter, signed by Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International, asked Lynch’s office to investigate “torture and other violations of U.S. law” in connection to the programs.

    • Ethiopia’s election insult to the people and democracy

      “Won” is not really an accurate description of the election result; as the chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, Merera Gudina, put it, this “was not an election, it was an organised armed robbery”.

    • South Koreans sentenced to hard labour in North Korea

      Two South Korean citizens arrested in North Korea in March on charges of spying have been sentenced to hard labour for life, South Korea said.

    • Rape culture and Rolling Stone

      Behind all the manifestations of rape-skeptic journalism lie the interests of the 1%, who want to preserve the exploitative, oppressive relations that exist under capitalism and prop them up.

    • CIA torture is only part of medical science’s dark modern history

      The controversy over the CIA torture is very similar to another debate raging within the US medical community – that over doctor involvement in the death penalty.

    • USA Senate passes ban on torture
    • Senate passes amendment to ban torture as US policy

      The amendment would require USA government interrogators to adhere strictly to techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual, which would have to be updated every three years to ensure it complies with USA law and “reflects current evidence-based best practices for interrogation that are designed to elicit reliable and voluntary statements and don’t involve the use or threat of force”.

    • Two grilled at CIA black site in Afghanistan freed after more than a decade

      The Pentagon secretly repatriated two Tunisians who were interrogated at a CIA black site in Afghanistan and imprisoned by the U.S. military in that country for more than a decade, U.S. officials said.

      A U.S. military cargo plane flew Lutfi al-Arabi al-Gharisi and Ridha Ahmad al-Najjar from Afghanistan to Tunisia on June 15, according to U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a detainee transfer that had not been made public.

    • Two Tunisians interrogated at CIA black site in Afghanistan secretly flown home

      The Pentagon secretly repatriated two Tunisians who were interrogated at a CIA black site in Afghanistan and imprisoned by the U.S. military in that country for more than a decade, U.S. officials said.

      A U.S. military cargo plane flew Lutfi al-Arabi al-Gharisi and Ridha Ahmad al-Najjar from Afghanistan to Tunisia on June 15, according to U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a detainee transfer that had not been made public.

    • Putting a Stop to US and International Torture

      Today is the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

    • Major rights groups beg DOJ to prosecute CIA
    • US Justice Department Must Expose CIA Use of Torture – Amnesty Int’l

      The US Department of Justice must speak out against Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture practices, Amnesty International Director of Security with Human Rights Naureen Shah told Sputnik in an interview.

    • 100 Groups From Around the World to UN: Demand Accountability for CIA Torture

      This Friday, the world will mark International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This day is commemorated every year to reaffirm the universal commitment to the total eradication of torture, which is categorically prohibited under international law.

    • US: Joint Appeal to Investigate Torture

      Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Amnesty International called on United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a June 23, 2015 letter to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate torture and other violations of US law in connection with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s detention and interrogation program. The letter was attached to petitions signed by 111,788 concerned individuals supporting appointment of a special prosecutor.

    • Rights groups call to probe CIA torture

      “If our laws have meaning, we can’t accept that some of our country’s most senior officials authorized criminal conduct and were never held accountable. Torture is a crime,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “We know it happened. The Senate torture report documented it in excruciating detail. It’s up to Attorney General Lynch to uphold the laws of our land and ensure that a criminal investigation of the U.S. torture program is conducted.”

    • Remember the Time the CIA Bugged a Cat to Spy on the Soviets?

      My favorite story about American spying is one I’ve never been able to verify with the Central Intelligence Agency, and not for lack of trying.

      At the height of the Cold War, the story goes, officials in the United States hatched a covert plan to keep tabs on Russians in Washington, D.C. They would, they decided, deploy surveillance cats—yes, actual cats surgically implanted with microphones and radio transmitters—to slip by security and eavesdrop on activity at the Soviet Embassy. The project went by the thinly disguised code name “Acoustic Kitty.”

    • Healing and Hope for Torture Survivors

      It is also a day to stand up to prevent torture from occurring. For years, I have been advocating for New York State legislation to prevent health professionals from participating in the torture and mistreatment of detainees. We know from the release of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Summary that U.S. health professionals played a central role in the design and implementation of the CIA’s torture program, making this legislation timelier than ever.

    • Statement by the President on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
    • Minneapolis Rally Protests Government Torture

      A human rights organization hosted demonstrations in nine cities Friday to raise awareness about government torture, including a rally in Minneapolis.

      Amnesty International wants to pressure the Department of Justice to investigate and prosecute torture committed by people working in the name of the United States government.

      A spokesman for Amnesty International says the department’s stance on the Senate report on CIA torture is contradictory.

    • Amnesty blasts alleged torture tactics in protest
    • Letter from more than 100 groups to UN demanding accountability for US torture and other abuses

      Last December, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the summary, findings and conclusions of its four-year investigation into the Detention and Interrogation

    • Group urging action on torture report

      They held signs in Raleigh on Friday stating: “Take a moral stand vs. torture,” “No to government secrecy,” “Like genocide & slavery, torture is always wrong,” and “North Carolina hosts CIA torture planes.”

    • Protesters want to put an end to torture

      Amnesty International is holding rallies across the nation, including Amherst, to shed light on a senate report on C-I-A torture.

      Thousands of people have been tortured all around the world. According to a senate report, the C-I-A is ALSO responsible for carrying out torture tactics.

    • Why is the CIA Being Let off the Hook on torture?

      More than 6 months ago, the Senate Intelligence Committee released the Executive Summary of its investigation into CIA torture practices during the Bush Presidency. The process of producing the report itself was highly controversial with the CIA doing everything in its power to stymie the investigation, including spying on Senate members of the committee.

      The actual report itself remains classified but there is now enough information in the public that questions are arising about why there has been no legal action taken. If the CIA has been documented as having tortured detainees captured during the so-called War on Terror in the report, then why has the Obama Administration and its Justice Department, not built on the Senate report? That question troubled human rights organizations so much that several of them signed onto a letter this week calling on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct a truly independent investigation and push for accountability for what was done.

    • CIA Torture Report, Cost of War, and Ecuador Protests
    • How CIA torture goes unpunished

      Soon after I was tortured, in the late 1970s, I joined a worldwide Amnesty International campaign against torture premised on the notion that, with a consistent, determined effort by democratic governments and international organizations supported by common men and women across borders, torture could be abolished in our time just as the African slave trade had been abolished a century earlier.We have come far. Today, laws against torture are in place almost everywhere.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • ISPs do throttle traffic — and the FCC can’t stop it

      Lots of attention was paid this week to a study showing that major ISPs are throttling traffic. At first glance, it seems a clear test case for the FCC’s Net neutrality rules, which prohibit blocking, throttling, or creating special “fast lanes” for content. The problem is, this is not the throttling you’re looking for, Obi-Wan.

      The new rules went into effect a fortnight ago, and aside from scattered accounts of consumers who wrangled price breaks from their cable companies after filing complaints with the FCC about unfair billing practices, and news that Sprint stopped slowing traffic for customers who use a lot of data, very little has changed for Internet users — or is likely to anytime soon.

    • Internet access “not a necessity or human right,” says FCC Republican

      Federal Communications Commission member Michael O’Rielly yesterday argued that “Internet access is not a necessity or human right” and called this one of the most important “principles for regulators to consider as it relates to the Internet and our broadband economy.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Canada Saves Public From Public Domain, Extends Copyright On Sound Recordings Another 20 Years

        Lest it be left behind by other countries bullied into submission by US trade agreements, the Canadian government has now expanded copyright terms for recording artists from 50 years to 70 years. (It was previously passed, but has now received the Official Royal Assent.) While not as obnoxiously long as the terms afforded to songwriters (life plus 50 years… which will probably be life plus 70 before too long…), it’s still a needless expansion that does little for living artists while carving another 20-year hole in the public domain.

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