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03.03.18

EPO Annual Report Will Dominate the News Next Week, Whereas Unitary Patent (UPC) is a Goner

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UPC fluff and bluff has become the norm, but it’s detached from underlying facts

Bluff

Summary: The EPO’s fluff will be seeded in news sites next week, distracting from profound declines in quality and the demise of the UPC (a failed gamble of Battistelli)

THERE will be a lot of press coverage about the EPO next week. Plenty of puff pieces about the annual report, parroting the PR people rather than doing journalism with fact-checking and critical thinking. That’s fine, we’ve grown accustomed to it and some of the publications that participate in this PR charade got paid by Battistelli (at the expense of EPO stakeholders).

“They try to trick British politicians.”What we won’t be hearing much about next week is the UPC. Team UPC will get a lot louder again around Easter time. A patent attorney based in Germany (with “a focus in patent infringement and licensing” i.e. enforcement a la UPC) doesn’t accept the death of the UPC; nobody in his position likes to think that Brexit among other things (FCC, EPO scandals etc.) kills the UPC for good. He wrote: “[Theresa] May on #ECJ and #Brexit : ‘the jurisdiction of the ECJ in the UK must end’ vs ‘if we agree that the UK should continue to participate in an EU agency the UK would have to respect the remit of the ECJ in that regard’. what does that mean for #UPC Full text: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2018/03/theresa-mays-our-future-partnership-speech-in-full/ …”

It’s pretty obvious what it means. He also relayed Mathieu Klos as saying (German users’ tweets in English): “2 days in London with talks tonine patent firms brought no clear picture whether the UK will finalise the remaining steps of #UPC ratification. Range of predictions varies from “it will happen around Easter ” to “totally unpredictable because of cabinet Brexit discussions””

“Without the UPC, there would still be EPO and EPC. There would be Boards of Appeal too, i.e. judges.”That former group would be liars like Bristows and cohorts who fabricate statements and resort to dirty tricks. They try to trick British politicians. Don’t pay much/any attention to them. They just lobby for their financial interests, sometimes anonymously and often while deleting opposing views from sites (they don’t respect freedom of expression in comments).

There’s this new guest post by Matteo Dragoni, a Stanford TTLF Fellow. That covers the UPC and EPC, noting that it didn’t quite work as intended (NPOs are still very much relevant). To quote:

Second, the current EPC system has established a “regional” patent system which is better than the PCT system, but it is still far from having eliminated all the economic/bureaucratic hurdles to patenting. It is true that European patents, once granted, can be validated/extended—and so recognized—in every single EPC country, but such validation/extension process comes at a cost. The patent often needs to be translated, some other taxes must be paid and the help of a local patent attorney is required. Annual patent fees must also be paid or the even the local patent expires. Once the European patent is granted, the patentee usually has 6 months to decide the validation/extension countries.

Since the grant of a European patent usually happens 3-4 years after the patent application has been filed, this means that an entity might not be ready to extend or validate the patent in many other countries, and if it has to drop some countries, it usually does so with less appealing, small, markets, most of which are the accession States considered in Hall and Helmers’s article. Moreover, a European patent usually reduces costs only if the patentee is interested in having patent protection in at least 3-5 EPC Countries (depending on the local costs and fees).

The above also answers a bit to Risch’s concern that a “unified” patent protection might not imply a “strengthening” of IP protection. As the situation is now, the European patent merely grants a bundle of nationally regulated patents that, once validated/extended, are governed by national rules and are subject (for some aspects) to the exclusive jurisdiction of national courts. This makes the patent rights obtained through a European patent costlier but also quite strong: it is not so cheap to obtain and validate/extend a European patent, but it is also quite expensive to invalidate the validated/extended European patent in all the single EPC jurisdictions.

Without the UPC, there would still be EPO and EPC. There would be Boards of Appeal too, i.e. judges. The rush to ratify something like the UPC is nothing but a wet dream of Big Litigation firms, which not only promote UPCA but also wrote a lot of UPCA. It’s a failed coup and this coup has already caused tremendous damage to the EPO.

Next Week’s Annual Report From the EPO Will Say Nothing About Decline in Patent Quality

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 12:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO is going downhill, but its PR people will claim the exact opposite (it’s their job to mislead)

Decline

Summary: Decline in patent examination standards for the purpose of ‘faking’ growth (like Battistelli wants) won’t be accounted for in the annual report, nor will attempts to attract more applications/applicants by offering them ‘discounts’

THE management of the EPO will release its annual report in a few days. As we explained some days ago, this report will hide the negatives and accentuate the positives, just like last year. We wrote many articles last year in order to explain how facts had been distorted and poorly presented by the EPO.

“As we explained some days ago, this report will hide the negatives and accentuate the positives, just like last year.”EPO PR people already prepare their rather limited audience (many followers are not real people): “Stay tuned to find out about patenting trends in 2017. We will publish our annual report on 7 March.”

On Friday they also resorted to more greenwashing tweets about patents that typically prevent proliferation of ‘green’ technology, rendering it an overpriced monopoly rather than the Commons.

“We wrote many articles last year in order to explain how facts had been distorted and poorly presented by the EPO.”In the meantime we are assessing the sorts of patents granted by the EPO. Some are more controversial than others, so those subjected to appeals/oppositions are a little more interesting. Well, meanwhile we have been looking into some European Patents (EPs) on algorithms as they do exist.

Patent number/ID EP2179387/EP2179387A4 (publication number 08775543) seems interesting because it’s summarised as follows: “Disclosed is a method and an advertising system for delivering advertisements in a mobile communication network. The method comprises detecting a need to deliver an advertisement, and arranging said delivery such that one or more indicators of advertisement behaviour specific to individual recipients of advertisements and/or to the overall system are taken into account. delivery of advertisements in mobile advertising system.”

No device or anything, just a simple chart. I’ve read it and it seems like a classic software patent. It’s not supposed to have been granted (in my humble assessment), yet law firms are all too eager to see everything patented. Benjamin Henrion, for example, has just highlighed this new blog post from epc.nl (entitled “Software patenteren vergt creativiteit”). The domain they chose for their firm is interesting because it sounds like EPC in the Netherlands (the EPC denies software patents actually), so the acronym “EPC” got sort of hijacked by software patents proponents.

“In the meantime we are assessing the sorts of patents granted by the EPO.”When the annual report comes out next week remember that this annual report includes no measure of quality and it exploits a depleted pool of pending/queued applications that are assessed and often granted in a rush. This annual report would not account for reduction in fees, which in our assessment may contribute to an artificial surge in number (“discount”/”sale” tactics) without adjusting the numbers accordingly, e.g. total revenue.

Someone has just posted the following comment at IP Kat to say:

But it does put me in mind of the current obsession inside the EPO with the “clarity” of the text of patent specifications. This obsession is absurd, but it does provide a glorious proof of what you write about, that every reader has a different and unique interpretation of any given text.

No patent attorney ever reached 100% “clarity”. For the EPO to refuse a petition from the inventor, applicant or patent owner because its clarity is less than 100% is outrageous. Perfect clarity is something one can approach only asymptotically. The EPO should confine its enquiry to whether the level of clarity is good enough, whether it is “fit for purpose”, and not whether it is 100%

From what we have heard or read, one serious issue at the moment is that many rejections are due to rather superficial things or clerical mistakes (how an application gets filed) rather than underlying technical deficiencies, lack of merit, prior art etc. It’s a lot easier to disqulity an application this way, creating an illusion of high ‘production’ whilst also maintaining similar rejection rates. If anyone inside or outside the EPO has further insight on this, please get in touch. Forums for discussions of EPO matters (e.g. CSC publications, blog comments and so on) are being suppressed these days, impeding free flow of information. EPO management has so much to hide.

03.02.18

Links 2/3/2018: Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Enters Feature Freeze and Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Released, Wine 3.3 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 7:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Google Updates: I/O is go, Linux in Chrome, free apps by the load

      IN A WEEK when so much attention has been focused on Barcelona, there’s a few stories that still managed to sneak in under the radar, Google-wise. For everything we’ve already covered you can go here.

      Firstly, there’s indications that we’re going to start seeing Linux containers that can run in Chrome OS, much as Snaps do for Windows in Linux.

      Its’ been possible through a hack for a while, but this appears to be the real deal, with a “Project Crostini” being the name for the integration.

    • Project Crostini: Chrome OS prepares to support Linux apps

      Similar to Microsoft’s attempts, it’s clear Google believes supporting Linux will ensure developers spend as much time on their respective platforms as possible. While it may seem counterintuitive, it means developers are more likely to make native apps for the platform they’re using in their spare time.

  • Server

    • The Kubernetes Lesson

      When Kubernetes was first announced in 2014, reactions were mixed. Some pointed to its pedigree and that of its creators, Brendan Burns, Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, as reason enough to pay attention. Others focused on the fact that it was derived from Google’s Borg software but was not itself Borg, dismissing it as “Borg-lite” or little more than an interesting science project. Both camps were forced to acknowledge, however, that it was entering a crowded and fragmented software market. It was one project among a rapidly expanding array of options.

      In this first quarter of 2018, however, Kubernetes is arguably the most visible of core infrastructure projects. Kubernetes has gone from curiosity to mainstream acceptance, crossing any number of chasms in the process. The project has been successful enough that even companies and projects that have competing container implementation strategies have been compelled to adopt it.

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 Controller Support Getting Squared Away For Linux

      Back in January was the announcement of Intel’s “Titan Ridge” Thunderbolt 3 controllers that offer DisplayPort 1.4 support and optional USB-C computer port compatibility while retaining backwards compatibility.

      It will still probably be some time before you find a Titan Ridge Thunderbolt controller in your device, but Linux support for these Alpine Ridge successors is getting wrapped up. Mika Westerberg posted the latest set of 18 patches today for adding Intel Titan Ridge support to the Linux kernel’s Thunderbolt driver. With this Titan Ridge support comes a new USB-only security level, a new attribute for indicating whether devices were connected automatically during boot, and a pre-boot ACL for indicating devices that the firmware automatically connects during boot.

    • DTrace on Oracle Linux

      I like to joke that “all performance problems are either trivial or unsolvable”, but that’s really not true. While many performance issues can be diagnosed using standard tools like vmstat, mpstat, iostat, prstat, perf, and so on, sometimes you need to inspect the internal behavior of the system to understand what’s going on. DTrace, the fantastic dynamic tracing tool introduced with Solaris, is ideal for this. While I haven’t focussed on DTrace, I’ve blogged in the past on how I used it to discover interesting things about Oracle VM Server for SPARC live migration and internal workings of the Hercules emulator. In one of those blogs I refer to the ‘*stat’ tools as a stethoscope, while DTrace is the MRI you deploy when needed for deep information.

    • A Guide To Making Use Of The DTrace Basics On Linux

      Oracle is still working on DTrace for the Linux kernel and last year allowed the kernel code to be under the GPLv2+ license. While there are other options these days for dynamic tracing on Linux like SystemTap, eBPF, KTrace, etc, for those wanting to use DTrace, an Oracle developer has posted a new guide for doing so under Linux.

    • Bareflank 2.0 Hypervisor Being Worked On With Better Memory Management, UEFI Support

      The Bareflank Hypervisor is nearly two years old and its version 2.0 release happens to be baking.

      Bareflank is a Linux hypervisor written in C++11/14 with VMM isolation and Windows support as well as other features. Bareflank 2.0 is now stepping closer to release as its next big step forward.

    • Linux Foundation

      • New Linux Video Series from Jack Wallen and Swapnil Bhartiya

        Swapnil and Jack started the video series in order to have a mature conversation about Linux, open source, and related topics. “With so many related topics, we felt it had become a challenge to have or find sensible, immediate, dialog with those involved, as each distinct community had become either too entrenched in their microcosm or disconnected from reality. Hence, ‘Let’s Get Serious,’” Jack said.

      • Linux Foundation continues to help shape telecoms industry

        In its latest move that will have a major impact on the telecoms industry, the Linux Foundation has announced a new open source project that is intended to create an open source software stack to support high-availability cloud services that are optimised for edge computing systems and applications.

        To seed the new project, Akraino Edge Stack, AT&T – the world’s largest telecommunications company – is contributing code designed for carrier-scale edge computing applications running in virtual machines and containers to support reliability and performance requirements.

      • Xen Project Member Spotlight: DornerWorks

        The Xen Project is comprised of a diverse set of member companies and contributors that are committed to the growth and success of the Xen Project Hypervisor. The Xen Project Hypervisor is a staple technology for server and cloud vendors, and is gaining traction in the embedded, security and automotive space. This blog series highlights the companies contributing to the changes and growth being made to the Xen Project, and how the Xen Project technology bolsters their business.

      • EdgeX Foundry Continues Momentum with ‘California Code’ Preview

        EdgeX Foundry is still a few months away from its one-year anniversary. For those unfamiliar, EdgeX Foundry is a vendor-neutral, open source IoT edge computing framework project under The Linux Foundation. At the heart of EdgeX is a microservice architecture which allows the platform to be distributed, updated, replaced, improved and even provided by commercial third parties for additional value add where it makes sense. Its goal is to provide an interoperable platform (hardware and OS agnostic) to accelerate the deployment of industrial IoT solutions.

    • Graphics Stack

      • OpenChrome DRM Still Aiming For Mainline Kernel, But Initially Will Lack 2D Acceleration

        It’s been several months since last hearing anything about OpenChrome as the open-source driver project still working to create a free software driver for VIA’s aging x86 graphics hardware. There remains ambitions for getting this driver to the mainline Linux kernel, but 2D acceleration for now is out, and their DDX driver has been delayed indefinitely.

      • Intel Mesa OpenGL Driver Lands 48-bit Addressing Support, Lets Up To ~256TB Of vRAM

        Intel’s i965 Mesa OpenGL driver now allows for 48-bit addressing, which greatly expands the GPU memory limits.

        Intel developer Kenneth Graunke landed his support in the i965 Mesa driver for 48-bit addressing. 48-bit address space for most GPU objects is allowed with Broadwell “Gen 8″ graphics hardware and newer.

      • DXVK v0.30 Released For Offering Better Direct3D 11 Over Vulkan Experience

        A new release is available of DXVK, the Vulkan-based implementation of Direct3D 11 intended to offer a faster experience for running 3D games/applications under Wine.

      • MSAA Fast Clears Flipped On For Intel ANV Vulkan Driver

        Going back to last November has been MSAA fast-clear patches for the Intel “ANV” Vulkan driver while today they were finally merged.

        The Intel ANV Vulkan driver has already supported fast clears but not when making use of multi-sample anti-aliasing. But that’s now changed as of the latest Git for Mesa 18.1-devel.

      • Using AMD Open Source and the amdgpu-pro OpenCL driver for image processing

        I have a AMD grahpics card and use the great Open Source driver which comes with my Linux distribution. However for image processing I want the OpenCL support of my graphics card. Currently that’s only provided by the amdgpu-pro driver.

      • AMDGPU 18.0 X.Org Driver Released

        It had been a half-year since the release of the last AMDGPU DDX release, xf86-video-amdgpu 1.4.0, but today that has been succeeded by xf86-video-amdgpu 18.0 as they also embark on a year-based versioning scheme.

        xf86-video-amdgpu 18.0.0 was released today as they move to a year-based versioning scheme with X.Org/DDX driver releases becoming less frequent thanks to the maturing xf86-video-modesetting generic driver and also more users moving to Wayland-based Linux desktops.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Kubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Update Available

        The fourth point release update to Kubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) is out now. This contains all the bug-fixes added to 16.04 since its first release in April 2016. Users of 16.04 can run the normal update procedure to get these bug-fixes. In addition, we suggest adding the Backports PPA to update to Plasma 5.8.8.

      • KDiff3 Joining kde
      • KDiff3 Project Revived For Showing File/Folder Differences, Now Part Of KDE

        KDiff3 is a long-time Qt-powered program for showing compares and merges between 2_ text files or directories. It’s basically a nice graphically-driven diff viewer and has automatic merge abilities, Unicode handling, etc.

      • Polishing Gwenview

        Gwenview is a core KDE app, and an important tentpole of the Usability & Productivity initiative.

        However, a few months ago Gwenview had no maintainer and few contributions. It was still a jewel, but was starting to bit-rot. Fast-forward to today: a lively crew of interested contributors are improving it daily, fixing bugs and resolving UI papercuts. Check out the Gwenview Phabricator project; it’s a hotbed of activity!

      • The Blue Blobs Return! Getting into Community Data Analytics

        Anyway, he was doing that for other communities than KDE, but he almost stopped now. For instance, he did it only once for Habitat in all of 2017. Luckily he published the scripts he was using in his git-viz repository so not all the knowledge was lost.

        Earlier this year, I decided to take the torch and try to get into community data analytics myself. I got in touch with Paul to talk a bit about my plans. My first step was to try to modernize his scripts while staying true to his original visualization.

      • Kdepim2017 Activity
      • Kdepim2017 Network
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Recipes hackfest

        The Recipes application started as a celebration of GNOME’s community and history, and it’s grown to be a great showcase for what GNOME is about…

      • Recipes hackfest, day 1

        It has been a bit quiet around GNOME recipes recently, since most of us have other obligations. But this is about to change; we’re currently having a hackfest about GNOME recipes in Jogyakarta, Indonesia, and we’ve already made some interesting plans for for future work in this app.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Hands-On: Installing five different Linux distributions on my new HP laptop

        I’ve just picked up a new laptop, and I have to say at first glance, it looks like a real beauty. It’s an HP 15-bs166nz, which I got at one of the large electronic chains here in Switzerland for CHF 649.- (approximately £500 / €560 / $685). That’s supposedly half-price, if you believe their list prices. It’s a bit difficult to judge, really, because HP makes so many different models with similar numbers but very different configurations, but after digging around on this one for a while I decided it is a very good price for this configuration.

    • Gentoo Family

      • SystemRescueCd

        If you accidentally delete data or format a disk, good advice can be expensive. Or maybe not: You can undo many data losses with SystemRescueCd.

        The price for mass storage devices of all types has been falling steadily in recent years, with a simultaneous increase in capacity. As a result, users are storing more and more data on local storage media – often without worrying about backing it up. Once the milk has been spilled, the anxious search begins for important photos, videos, correspondence, and spreadsheets. SystemRescueCd can help in these cases by providing a comprehensive toolbox for every computer, with the possibility of restoring lost items.

    • Arch Family

      • Namib Linux Makes Arch Linux a Dream for New Users

        Let’s not mince words here. Arch Linux is a challenge to install. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have so many distributions, such as Anarchy, which we covered previously, claiming to make Arch accessible for any user. Some of those distributions succeed and some fall flat. But few do as remarkable (albeit someone confusing) of a job as does Namib Linux. Not only does Namib Linux make installing and using Arch Linux as simple as can be, it also offers everything desktop Linux should have…

      • First Arch Linux ISO Snapshot Powered by Linux Kernel 4.15 Is Here, Download Now

        The Arch Linux 2018.03.01 ISO snapshot for March 2018 is here, available for download right now from the official website, and it looks like it’s the first to be powered by the Linux 4.15 kernel by default, which means all new Arch Linux installations will now be powered by Linux kernel 4.15.

        Linux kernel 4.15 was already available in Arch Linux’s repos since last month for existing users who wanted to upgrade and enjoy its new features, such as patches for Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, support for the RISC-V architecture, AMD Secure Encrypted Virtualization support, and much more.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • A site for reviews of Tumbleweed snapshots

        As leading-edge rolling distributions go, OpenSUSE Tumbleweed is relatively stable, but it is still true that some snapshots are better than others. Jimmy Berry has announced the creation of a web site tracking the quality of each day’s snapshot.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian used in the subway info screens in Oslo, Norway

        Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover my operating system of choice, Debian, was used in the info screens on the subway stations. While passing Nydalen subway station in Oslo, Norway, I discovered the info screen booting with some text scrolling.

      • When distributions get it wrong

        So this story starts with Debian removing XChat from its repo on 2016-01-30 which is not terrible in comparison to other distros but the problem arises when on 2017-08-08 it was accepted back into the repository to my surprise. Since then the maintainer has backported a few patches from HexChat including some CVE fixes and making UI changes to the input box totaling up to 44 patches as of today. Since no other upstream exists this project is no longer XChat really it is a Debian specific fork and due to timing this will land in Ubuntu 18.04 meaning this is theoretically “supported” (by the community) until 2023.

        [...]

        I have no real conclusion for this story as I cannot solve it but I hope users of these distros don’t just accept that software in the repos is maintained or safe and I hope members of the Debian and Ubuntu community can recognize that pulling in completely dead software into their repositories is a bad idea.

      • BOB Konferenz’18 in Berlin

        Recently Pranav Jain and I attended Bob Conference in Berlin, Germany. The conference started with a keynote on a very interesting topic, A language for making movies. Using Non Linear Video Editor for making movies was time consuming, ofcourse. The speaker talked about the struggle of merging presentation, video and high quality sound for conferences. Clearly, Automation was needed here which could be achieved by 1. Making a plugin for non linear VE, 2. Writing a UI automation tool like an operating system macro 3. Using shell scripting. However, dealing shell script for this purpose could be time consuming no matter how great shell scripts are. While the goal to achieve here was to edit videos using a language only and let the language get in the way of solving this. In other words a DSL Domain-Specific Language was required along with Syntax Parse. Video (https://lang.video/)is a language for making movies which integrated with Racket ecosystem. It combines the power of a traditional video editor with the capabilities of a full programming language.

        [...]

        This is just a summary of our experiences and what we were able to grasp at the conference and also share our individual experience with Debian on GSoC and Outreachy.

      • trains & snow

        unsurprisingly, my work was mostly focussed on Debian Perl Group stuff. we managed to move our repos from alioth to salsa during the weekend, which involved not only importing ~3500 repositories but also e.g. recreating our .mrconfig setup.

      • February 2018 report: LTS, …

        This is my monthly Debian LTS report. This month was exclusively dedicated to my frontdesk work. I actually forgot to do it the first week and had to play catchup during the weekend, so I brought up a discussion about how to avoid those problems in the future. I proposed an automated reminder system, but it turns out people found this was overkill. Instead, Chris Lamb suggested we simply send a ping to the next person in the list, which has proven useful the next time I was up.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS released

            The Ubuntu team is pleased to announce the release of Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS
            (Long-Term Support) for its Desktop, Server, and Cloud products, as well
            as other flavours of Ubuntu with long-term support.

            Like previous LTS series’, 16.04.4 includes hardware enablement stacks
            for use on newer hardware. This support is offered on all architectures
            except for 32-bit powerpc, and is installed by default when using one of
            the desktop images. Ubuntu Server defaults to installing the GA kernel,
            however you may select the HWE kernel from the installer bootloader.

            As usual, this point release includes many updates, and updated
            installation media has been provided so that fewer updates will need to
            be downloaded after installation. These include security updates and
            corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining
            stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS released
          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

            Canonical released today the fourth of fifth maintenance updates to its long-term supported Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system series with new kernel and graphics stacks.

            After it’s been delayed a couple of weeks due to the severe Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities that affect billions of devices, Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS maintenance update is finally here for existing users running Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS and earlier versions.

            As expected, Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS incorporates refreshed kernel and graphics stacks based on those of the Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark) operating system. These include the Linux 4.13 kernel and Mesa 17.2.2 graphics stack for Intel and AMD GPUs.

          • BeagleWire, GitHub DDoS Attack, Open Source Bonus Winners and More

            Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS (Xenial Xerus) was released yesterday. The update includes “security updates and corrections for other high-impact bugs, with a focus on maintaining stability and compatibility with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS”. See the release announcement for more info and links to downloads.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS Released, Makes Use Of Ubuntu 17.10′s Kernel/Mesa Stack

            After being delayed due to Spectre and Meltdown with the Canonical developers busy mitigating those CPU security vulnerabilities, the Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS release was rolled out a few minutes ago.

            Ubuntu 16.04.4 LTS is the latest installment to the Xenial Xerus and the last point release prior to this April’s release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver.” Ubuntu 16.04.4 offers a new hardware enablement stack of the Linux kernel, Mesa, and other components found within Ubuntu 17.10. This is particularly good news for updated open-source graphics driver support and performance along with the Linux 4.13-based kernel generally working better with more modern PCs.

          • Lubuntu 16.04.4 has been released!

            Thanks to all the hard work from our contributors, we are pleased to announce that Lubuntu 16.04.4 LTS has been released!

          • OpenStack Queens for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) Enters Feature Freeze, First Beta Lands March 8

            The feature freeze stage in the development of a Linux-based operating system means that the upcoming release won’t receive any new features or major updated packages except for those that fix critical bugs. As such, the Ubuntu Release Team uploaded all packages to the bionic-proposed repository before the feature freeze deadline on March 1, 2018.

            The problem is, over 800 packages are currently stuck in the bionic-proposed repo. In comparison, there were only 110 packages waiting in the proposed repo at the end of Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful Aardvark)’s development cycle. As such, Canonical urges all developers and contributors to resolve any issues and free as many packages as possible until next week’s beta release.

          • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Enters Its Feature Freeze
          • Microsoft and Canonical to Offer Enhanced VM Experiences for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS
          • Thread-optimized IoT gateway adds Ubuntu Core support

            Rigado announced that its i.MX6 UL based Vesta IoT Gateway, which offer Ethernet, WiFi, BT, Thread, and optional LTE, LoRa, and PoE, will soon be available with Ubuntu Core and Canonical’s IoT app store.

            Starting this summer, Portland, Oregon-based Rigado will offer its Edge Connectivity gateway solutions with Canonical’s IoT-focused, transactional Ubuntu Core distribution. Rigado is referring to its low-cost, Yocto Project powered Vesta IoT Gateway, which launched in Dec. 2016 without the Vesta name. The new Ubuntu Core support will enable “sophisticated control, monitoring and tracking applications,” as well as “connected guest experiences,” says Canonical in its version of the announcement.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • How to decide if open source or proprietary software solutions are best for your business

    Open source software debuted 20 years ago in February. While arguments attempting to define its actual purpose (free speech versus free beer) sometimes seem perpetual, it has opened up new possibilities for organizations looking for affordable and customizable software code to help run their businesses and drive innovation.

    Initial skepticism regarding free software and questions about the business model (“Why would programmers work for free?”) have led to steadfast enterprise adoption of open source software, with an array of options such as “completely free,” “free to a certain number of users/functions” and “free but with paid support licenses.”

  • 5 open source software tools for supply chain management

    If you manage a business that deals with physical goods, supply chain management is an important part of your business process. Whether you’re running a tiny Etsy store with just a few customers, or a Fortune 500 manufacturer or retailer with thousands of products and millions of customers worldwide, it’s important to have a close understanding of your inventory and the parts and raw materials you need to make your products.

    Keeping track of physical items, suppliers, customers, and all the many moving parts associated with each can greatly benefit from, and in some cases be totally dependent on, specialized software to help manage these workflows. In this article, we’ll take a look at some free and open source software options for supply chain management and some of the features of each.

  • Beyond metrics: How to operate as team on today’s open source project

    How do we traditionally think about community health and vibrancy?

    We might quickly zero in on metrics related primarily to code contributions: How many companies are contributing? How many individuals? How many lines of code? Collectively, these speak to both the level of development activity and the breadth of the contributor base. The former speaks to whether the project continues to be enhanced and expanded; the latter to whether it has attracted a diverse group of developers or is controlled primarily by a single organization.

    The Linux Kernel Development Report tracks these kinds of statistics and, unsurprisingly, it appears extremely healthy on all counts.

  • New OpenStack Queens release provides support for GPUs, containers to meet edge, NFV and machine learning workload demands

    The OpenStack community released on Wednesday Queens, the 17th version of the open source cloud infrastructure software. A packed release resulting from a six-month development cycle, Queens offers advancements benefiting for both enterprises with mission-critical workloads as well as organizations investing in emerging use cases like containers, NFV, edge computing and machine learning. The software now powers 60 public cloud data centers and thousands of private clouds at a scale of more than six million physical cores.

  • OpenStack Queens, RedDrop Android Spyware, Oracle’s VirtualBox and More

    OpenStack Queens was released yesterday. The 17th version of the open-source cloud infrastructure software “offers a packed release with advancements benefiting not only enterprises with mission-critical workloads but also organizations investing in emerging use cases like containers, NFV, edge computing and machine learning”.

  • ​Open-source cloud royalty: OpenStack Queens released

    The cloud is growing faster than ever, and OpenStack, the open-source cloud for the enterprise, is growing with it.

    By next year, 60 percent of enterprise workloads will run in the cloud, according to 451 Research’s Voice of the Enterprise: Cloud Transformation, Workloads and Key Projects survey. While much of that growth is in the public cloud, OpenStack enterprise adoption is expanding, with enterprises in nearly all businesses turning to private and hybrid cloud models for their mission-critical workloads. Indeed, as OpenStack moves toward making more than $6 billion in 2021, OpenStack’s private clouds are expected to deliver more revenue than its public cloud implementations.

  • Events

    • foss-north – the count down

      We are approaching the count down to foss-north 2018 – at least from an organizer perspective. This year we will be at Chalmers Conference Centre, in the centre of Gothenburg – the world’s most sociable, friendliest city. So, save the date – April 23 – and make sure to drop by.

    • 3 Ansible videos from DevConf.cz 2018

      The recent DevConf.cz conference in Brno, Czechia is a great example of an event by and for developers and open source community members. Hundreds of speakers showed off countless technologies and features advancing the state of open source in Linux and far beyond. One of today’s most popular technologies is Ansible. Here’s a taste of how it was represented among the many excellent sessions at the conference.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Firefox 59 Web Browser Promises New Privacy and Security Features

        Firefox is known as one of the most secure browsers on the market, but Mozilla wants it to be more privacy-aware and secure than ever before. That’s why it looks like Firefox 59 will be coming with new privacy settings that won’t allow intrusive sites to access your camera, microphone or location, nor to ask you if you want to receive any notifications.

        In Firefox’s Preferences panel, under Privacy & Security, there’s a Permissions section that lets users choose which websites will have access tp location, camera, microphone, and notification and which won’t. These settings are already present in the current stable Firefox version and are essential for protecting your privacy and keep your online presence secure from hackers.

      • Test Pilot No More 404s Graduation Report

        Last winter, some folks from the Test Pilot team got together with some folks from the Internet Archive and hatched a plan. On the Test Pilot side of things, we were busy building our platform and getting experiments out into the wild. Meanwhile, the team at the Internet Archive was prototyping an add-on to help users avoid dead ends on the Web by checking if they had archived versions of sites available in the Wayback Machine for users who encountered 404 errors.

      • Firefox Nightlies
      • Firefox Performance Update #2

        So I’ve had my eyes out, watching for bugfixes that are landing in the Firefox code base that will speed it up for our users.

      • Fun with Themes in Firefox

        Last year, I started work on a new Test Pilot experiment playing with themes in Firefox.

        So far, we’ve been calling it ThemesRFun – though we’re in the process of coming up with an official name.

      • Announcing Rust 1.24.1

        The Rust team is happy to announce a new version of Rust, 1.24.1. Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, speed, and concurrency.

      • March’s Featured Extensions
      • Things Gateway – Part 5

        In Part 4 of this series, I showed how to link the Things Gateway with a quartet of Philips Hue bulbs via the Hue Bridge. There are advantages and disadvantages to using the Hue Bridge. On the plus side, the Hue Bridge enables the mobile device app, a mature controller for Hue lights with plenty of bells and whistles. On the downside, the Hue Bridge is an Internet capable device, and I’m just not sure I can trust that.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Why it might be time for Big Cloud to share the wealth with open-source startups

      There’s no longer any point in ignoring the truth: during the age of open-source software, which was supposed to democratize software development and usher in a new era of community-driven advancement, the most powerful companies in technology have consolidated their power and become the most important economic forces on the planet.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Collabora Online 3.1

      Collabora Productivity, the driving force behind putting LibreOffice in the Cloud, is proud to announce a new release of its flagship enterprise-ready cloud document suite – Collabora Online 3.1, including new features and improvements. This is the first release after the major Collabora Online 3.0 release a few weeks ag

    • TDF Chairwoman and Deputy Chairman announced

      The Board of Directors of The Document Foundation has confirmed Marina Latini in the role of Chairwoman and appointed Bjoern Michaelsen in the role of Deputy Chairman.

      I have used their own words – from the email they have sent to present their candidacy – to describe themselves, although they are both very well know both in the LibreOffice community and in the wider FOSS community.

  • CMS

    • DotCMS Updates, TYPO9 9.1 Released, More Open Source News

      Miami-based dotCMS has rolled out dotCMS 4.3, featuring new Static Publishing features as well the new “Four Eyes” workflow approval.

      DotCMS’ Static Publishing feature — which was released last year — has been updated so users can save comprehensive static HTML versions of their websites in multiple locations, including local folders, AWS S3 buckets, or any external location or cloud service accessible via SCP or SFTP. According to the dotCMS press release, “these new Static Publishing features mean more customers can take advantage of the performance, disaster recovery, compliance, and security benefits that Static Publishing offers.”

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • a2k18 Hackathon Report: Ken Westerback on dhclient and more

      Once in Dunedin the hacking commenced. The background was a regular tick of new meltdown diffs to test in addition to whatever work one was actually engaged in. I was lucky (?) in that none of the problems with the various versions cropped up on my laptop.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • New York Genome Center Researchers Create Low-Cost Open Source 3D Printed Device for Single-Cell Analysis

        So many of the benefits of 3D printing—and often all of them—allow for innovative strides to be made in a variety of industries today. Some of the most undeniable and significant impacts are being made in the medical field though, as researchers and manufacturers become more interested in manipulating the 3D realm to bioprint, create laboratory and medical devices, and more. As researchers continue to delve deeper on the cellular level, they also continue to become more successful in improving the quality of lives for patients around the world, including work with microfluidic devices.

  • Programming/Development

    • Qt 3D Studio 1.1 Released

      We are happy to announce that Qt 3D Studio 1.1 has now been released. This release introduces many improvements to the user interface and introduces an improved way to define data driven UI content.

    • Qt 3D Studio 1.1 Brings UI Improvements

      Qt 3D Studio 2.0 is coming this summer, but today marks the Qt 3D Studio 1.1 release as an incremental upgrade for those using this 3D user-interface authoring system that originated out of NVIDIA’s open-source code.

    • The journey back to C
    • RcppArmadillo 0.8.400.0.0

      RcppArmadillo release 0.8.400.0.0, originally prepared and uploaded on February 19, finally hit CRAN today (after having been available via the RcppCore drat repo for a number of days). A corresponding Debian release was prepared and uploaded as well. This RcppArmadillo release contains Armadillo release 8.400.0 with a number of nice changes (see below for details), and continues our normal bi-monthly CRAN release cycle (slight delayes in CRAN processing notwithstanding).

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Why Are There Few Women in Tech? Watch a Recruiting Session

      Tech companies have employed a host of tactics to help lift the scant number of women and minorities who work within their ranks, like anti-bias training, affinity groups, and software that scans job postings for gendered language. Yet the numbers remain dire. Of men with science, technology engineering, or math (STEM) degrees, 40 percent work in technical careers; only 26 percent of women with STEM degrees do. That means that qualified women are turning away from the field before they even get started.

      [...]

      Similarly, the follow-up question-and-answer periods were often dominated by male students who commandeered the time, using it to show off their own deep technical know-how in a familiar one-upmanship. Rather than acting as a facilitator for these sessions, male presenters were often drawn into a competitive volley. Wynn and Correll describe one session in which men asked 19 questions and women asked none. Of the five presenters, the two men fielded all the questions while the two female engineers spoke very little; finally, a female recruiter jumped in at the end with application instructions. This clearly didn’t entice female attendees. Of the 51 men attending, only one left the room during the q&a. Four of the 15 women left.

  • Hardware

    • Archival Media: Not a Good Business

      Why is this? The upper layers of the hierarchy generate revenue; the archival layer is purely a cost. If the data are still generating revenue, at least one copy is on flash or hard disk. Even if there is a copy in the archive, that one isn’t generating revenue. Facebook expects the typical reason for a read request for data from their Blu-Ray cold storage will be a subpoena. Important, but not a revenue generator. So archival media are a market where customers are reluctant to spend, because there is no return on the investment.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Medicines Vastly Overpriced, Generics Too: Discussion At WTO-WIPO-WHO Symposium

      The price of hepatitis C medicine marked a turning point in the discussion on access to medicines, with developed countries suddenly confronted to prices they could not afford. This week, a symposium jointly organised by the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, and the World Intellectual Property Organization explored the question of the pricing of medicines. A number of suggestions were made to alleviate the issue, such as ensuring wide use of generic medicines, encouraging competition, and alerting countries about the cost of medicine production so they negotiate better with pharmaceutical companies.

    • WHO Joint Tropical Disease Program Issues Report On Research Fairness

      The World Health Organisation’s Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) has published the first report on research fairness under a new initiative. The report includes an analysis of how TDR manages intellectual property rights in a positive way.

      The Research Fairness Initiative (RFI) was developed by the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED). It is a “first attempt at creating a systematic global evidence-based assessment of fairness in the field of global health.”

    • Pfizer liable for £500 million NHS damages if court bid is unsuccessful, says study

      There could be more at stake for Pfizer in its UK Supreme Court pregabalin patent dispute than was previously thought. A recently-released study argues that if the pharma company loses the case, it will be liable to pay the National Health Service (NHS) £502 million in compensation.

      The study highlights a danger for pharma innovators: if they are unsuccessful in seeking to maintain or enforce patents, they could be sued by third-party healthcare providers seeking to recoup excess prescribing costs. Such an approach is already established government policy in Australia; and, if it were to become more common in other markets, such as the UK, it would create new enforcement headaches for Pfizer and other innovators.

    • Your Daily Reminder That It’s Not Just Flint

      I sure am glad it’s Infrastructure Week again because, as we regularly note here in the shebeen, the country’s water systems are pretty much shot to hell. For example, in Kentucky, there’s one small county that simply doesn’t have any that’s fit to drink

    • The water runs milky and can feel like fire. In this impoverished county, Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan may not help

      As residents in this sparsely populated pocket of Appalachia struggled — some boiling rainwater to bathe and melting snow to flush toilets — local schools canceled classes for three days and volunteers fanned out to deliver bottled water to the sick and elderly.

    • EU citizens reject Bayer-Monsanto merger, says new polling

      New polling shows citizens are against the planned merger of agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto, with a majority (54%) thinking it is “very” or “fairly important” that the European Commission blocks it – more than three times the number who think it would be unimportant [1].

    • Video Gaming Industry Issues Attack On WHO’s Proposed Gaming Disorder Classification

      Teens’ (and others’) life-altering obsession with video gaming is well-known to almost any parent in most countries around the world, and the World Health Organization recently identified it as an addiction called “gaming disorder.” Today, the self-acclaimed $36 billion video gaming industry hit back with a statement about a new paper from “preeminent researchers and scientists” that it says casts doubt on the WHO’s efforts.

    • Cutting Down Prior Appropriation: How Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife Warns Us About Water Rights in the West

      Paolo Bacigalupi’s novel The Water Knife depicts the American Southwest in the not-so-distant future. Climate change has exacerbated an already scarce water supply, corporate interests have severely weakened the federal government, and states fight for water rights in ways that put Don Corleone to shame. State water agencies send employees to engage in guerrilla warfare-style tactics, like blowing up water-treatment plants and bombing dams, to make sure their territories come out on top. The places that do not manage to secure enough precious water rights, like Arizona, house masses of refugees desperate to escape to water-wealthy havens.

      [...]

      A book like The Water Knife that highlights the dangers of the Western water rights system and water insecurity in general makes an approach like the one advocated for by Larson more salient, and it sends a clear warning about what the future could hold. Whether the United States heeds that warning remains to be seen.

    • Study: TRIPS Flexibilities Widely Used By Countries, Contrary To Reports

      The study titled “Medicine procurement and the use of flexibilities in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS], 2001-2016,” [pdf] was published in the latest Bulletin of the World Health Organization and authored by Ellen ‘t Hoen, Jacquelyn Veraldi, Brigit Toebes, and Hans Hogerzeil.

      The study is highlighted by an editorial [pdf] in the same edition of the WHO Bulletin, written by Prof. Carlos Correa of the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

      [...]

      The study found 176 instances of possible use of TRIPS flexibilities by 89 countries between 2001 to 2016, 100 of which involved compulsory licences or public non-commercial use licences, and 40 involving the least-developed countries pharmaceutical transition measure. One of those instances was parallel importation, three were research exceptions, and 32 were non-patent related measures.

      Some 152 out of 176 of those instances were implemented, the study says, adding that out of the 100 instances of compulsory licencing, 81 were implemented, but 19 were not because of different factor. These included: the patent holder offered a price reduction or donation; the patent holder agreed to a voluntary licence allowing the purchase of a generic medicine; no relevant patent existed that warranted the pursuit of the measure; and the application was rejected on legal or procedural grounds.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • [Older] Balancing security and innovation in open source
    • New PS4 Jailbreak Hits Firmware 4.55, Excites the Masses

      A few pieces of exciting news in the space of a few hours have many PlayStation 4 owners hot under the collar today. Following yesterday’s release of a kernel exploit for firmware v4.55 by developer ‘Qwertyoruiop’, a few hours ago a full implementation of the exploit landed on Github courtesy of SpecterDev. On top, there’s news of an interesting ‘payload’ quietly circulating.

    • ‘Chafer’ Uses Open Source Tools to Target Iran’s Enemies

      Iran’s hacking activity has increased against targets in its geographical neighborhood and one group has taken aim at commercial air travel and transport in the region.

      Symantec says the group, which it calls Chafer, has increased both its level of activity and the number of tools used against organizations in the Middle East.

    • Security updates for Friday
    • [Slackware] Security updates for OpenJDK 7 and 8
    • The Linux Kernel Prepares To Be Further Locked Down When Under UEFI Secure Boot

      For more than the past year we have reported on kernel work to further lock down the Linux kernel with UEFI Secure Boot and it’s looking now like that work may finally be close to being mainlined.

      Among the further restrictions that would be placed on the Linux kernel when running with UEFI Secure Boot enabled is blocking access to kernel module parameters that end up dealing with hardware settings, blocking access to some areas of /dev that could manipulate the kernel or hardware state, etc.

    • ​Memcached DDoS: The biggest, baddest denial of service attacker yet

      We’ve been seeing a rise of ever bigger Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks for years now. But, now a new attack method, Memcrashed, can blast your site with over a terabyte of traffic. Good luck standing up to that volume of abuse!

      Memcrashed works by exploiting the memcached program. Memcached is an open-source, high-performance, distributed, object-caching system. It’s commonly used by social networks such as Facebook and its creator LiveJournal as an in-memory key-value store for small chunks of arbitrary data. It’s the program that enables them to handle their massive data I/O. It’s also used by many to cache their web-server-session data to speed up their sites — and that’s where the trouble starts.

    • Security in the Modern Data Center
    • One in Eight Open Source Components Contain Flaws [Ed: What about proprietary software? Not worth ever debating in the media? Phil Muncaster uses dramatic headline as a form of marketing for Sonatype.]

      For example, 145,000 downloads of vulnerable versions of Apache Commons Collections were recorded in the UK in 2017 – vulnerabilities connected to ransomware attacks in the wild.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Trump Stuns Lawmakers With Seeming Embrace of Comprehensive Gun Control
    • New resolution would pull U.S. support from Saudis in Yemen war

      A bipartisan resolution was introduced in Congress on Thursday by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee, to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen.

      Why it matters: Yemen has been completely torn apart by the conflict between the Houthi rebel forces and the Saudi-led coalition which supports President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. The U.S. military has been supporting the Saudi coalition since the Obama administraiton. Sanders, Lee, and Murphy argue that Congress did not approve involvement, and therefore the U.S. should not be involved “beyond providing desperately needed humanitarian aid.”

    • It’s Very Easy to Bypass Google Shopping’s Block on Guns

      The ease of access to weapons is back in the spotlight after the recent Parkland school shooting. Naturally, one way potential gun owners may try to source a weapon is on the internet, and Google has, for years, blocked its shopping results from displaying results for searches of firearms.

      Turns out that block is trivial to circumvent, however, simply by misspelling the word ‘gun’.

    • Polish gov’t adopts bill to demote communist-era army officers

      The Polish government on Thursday adopted a bill that could see top communist-era military officers posthumously stripped of their rank.

    • North Korea, Iran and U.S. Intelligence that Neither Hears Nor Sees

      On North Korea, for example, the agencies that hear everything cannot seem to hear anything North Korea has said; on Iran, the agencies that see everything cannot seem to see what they have long known.

      The Worldwide Threat Assessment is a regular ritual of the intelligence community in which it shares a declassified summary of threats to U.S. national security with Congress. The current assessment is published under the name of Daniel R. Coats, Director of National Intelligence. In theory, the assessment is the result of input from all of America’s sixteen intelligence agencies.

    • First Responders in Florida Aren’t Covered for PTSD. That May Change After Parkland.

      A Florida bill to assist first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder has found new life in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

      At least three first responders to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 people, have publicly disclosed that they have a PTSD diagnosis, and advocates have been trying to expand workers’ compensation coverage in Florida since then. A bill to address that failed in Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature last year, and a similar measure’s prospects were uncertain this year.

      After the Feb. 14 high school shooting in Parkland, in which 17 people died, the bill gained momentum, though only a few days are left in the legislative session. On Monday, the measure unanimously cleared its final committee hearing in the Florida House, the last step before a floor vote. Today, it passed its final Senate committee.

    • State Department Likely to Extend Cuts to U.S. Embassy in Cuba

      The Trump administration is poised to permanently extend the drastic cuts it made to the United States diplomatic staff in Cuba last fall after mysterious incidents in which 24 Americans were injured there, State Department officials said.

      The staff reductions would have a major impact on U.S. diplomacy toward Cuba, the officials said, obscuring Washington’s view of a historic political transition on the island and limiting the contacts of American diplomats with Cuban officials, political dissidents and others. U.S. officials said the State Department has already informed the Castro government that it will likely not meet its annual commitment to admit at least 20,000 Cubans under a 1994 migration agreement. That deal was meant to discourage Cubans from trying to reach the United States aboard homemade rafts and boats.

    • Over 80,000 stolen guns worsen crime in Florida

      Over the last ten years, more than 82,000 guns stolen in Florida remain missing, Laura Morel reported in November 2017 in joint reports for the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Journalism’s program, Reveal. The study, based on a ten-month investigation of “thousands of law enforcement records,” found that in Tampa Bay alone at least 9,000 stolen guns are missing. In one recent year, 2016, on average at least one gun was reported stolen every hour.

      Those guns turn up in the hands of drug dealers and felons, Morel wrote, and some wind up killing people.

    • ‘The NRA Has Basically Become Part of the Republican Party’

      Mass shootings, like the February 14 killing of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, are actually a small fraction of gun deaths in the United States, but they hold a particular horror. And their wake, in which politicians and pundits tangle themselves in knots, arguing about the real cause and why other people’s ideas for responses won’t work, generates an enervating sense of frustration with the political process.

      The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are looking to break the stasis around gun restrictions, planning walkouts and demonstrations. They don’t look like fading soon. Our guest suggests that’s one of the elements that might allow this mass shooting to actually spur substantive change.

    • Teen Who Made A Dumb School Shooting Joke On Snapchat Ordered By Judge To Not Play Violent Video Games

      As predictable as the sun rising in the east, whenever a tragedy occurs, such as the recent school shooting in Florida, entirely too many people trot out their favorite whipping posts and put on a public show. One of those whipping posts is violent media, with video games for some reason taking on a particularly large portion of the backlash. We’ve already seen grandstanding politicians jump into this fray, all the way up to America’s current Dear Leader, but it isn’t only at the highest levels that this occurs. In the suburbs of Chicago, a 16 year old recently made a dumb comment in the wake of local threats of a school shooting that was essentially him being exasperated about all the commentary on his preferred social media channels.

    • ‘Annoyed’ sophomore charged with threat against Lake Park High School in Roselle

      In response to the talk about the closing, the youth posted a clip on Snapchat of himself playing a violent video game and wrote, “Y’all need to shut up about school shootings or I’ll do one.”

      On Monday morning, one of the Roselle Police Department’s school resource officers “learned of a (Lake Park) student who made specific threats” against the school, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Police and school officials “acted quickly to curtail any chance of danger to our kids,” the department wrote in the post.

      The youth appeared Tuesday afternoon in DuPage County juvenile court, where he is charged with felony disorderly conduct.

    • For Both Mainstream Camps in the Gun Debate, Violence Is Good for Fundraising

      One thing is certain about the gun debate: Americans are willing to spend a lot of money on it. What they get in return is a different story, one that is contoured by the raw emotions, partisan politics and brutal realities of gun violence that make the debate so frustrating and polarizing to begin with.

      Major gun control organizations bring in millions of dollars in donations a year, and they typically see a surge in donations and new memberships in the wake of well-publicized tragedies such as the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead.

      Everytown for Gun Safety, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group that funds Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, brought in $48 million in donations during 2015 fiscal year and easily exceeded $52 million in 2016, according to available tax filings. The well-established Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its advocacy center in Washington, DC, brought in more than $8 million in 2015.

    • Missile-gate: U.S. Intel Misses Russia’s Big Advances in Nuclear Parity

      Putin’s address was a “shock and awe” event. I leave to others, more competent than I in military technology to comment on the specific capabilities of the various systems rolled out yesterday. Whether short range or unlimited range, whether ground launched or air launched, whether ballistic missiles or cruise missiles, whether flying through the atmosphere or navigating silently and at high speed the very depths of the oceans, these various systems are said to be invincible to any known or prospective air defense such as the United States has invested in heavily since it unilaterally left the ABM Treaty and set out on a course that would upend strategic parity.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Bureau Of Land Management Decides It’s Going To Be A Lot Less Receptive To FOIA Requests

      The new administration’s plan to undo everything Obama ever did (along with lots of stuff other presidents put in place) continues. Fighting leakers and multiple investigations, the Trump administration is steamrolling regulation by slashing through red tape and common sense with equal aplomb. This administration may have a reputation for inadvertent openness, but its new directives aren’t so much draining the swamp as building a swamp in its own image.

      The Bureau of Land Management is apparently viewed as the Fed version of Greenpeace. Previously-protected federal lands are being opened up for business, starting with the removal of environmental impact reviews. This should speed up the return of the government’s land to certain people — mining companies, the CBP’s inland expeditions, wall builders, etc. This affects nearly 950 million acres of federal land. A raft of exclusions would make it easier for the Bureau of Land Management to manage land however it sees fit.

    • Government Says FISA Court Should Stop Wasting Time Considering The ACLU’s Request For Greater Transparency
    • Displacing Wikileaks: Is Securedrop a Government Leak Graveyard?

      A concerted effort is being put forth to discredit Wikileaks and its founder as a reliable option for whistleblowers. But as Whitney Webb reveals, the alternatives being put forth are leaving leakers vulnerable.

    • Assange still has the power to affect world politics from his computer

      When Wikileaks published the Iraq War Logs, Afghan War Diaries, and in particular the Collateral Murder video, Laura immediately wanted to make a film about the people who were doing this kind of journalism that we weren’t getting but we needed, especially in the US. She saw those wars, she had been to Iraq and filmed a documentary, My Country, My Country. When WikiLeaks published Collateral Murder, Laura was immediately drawn to them. In 2011 she started filming with Assange and Wikileaks, and only later did Snowden contact her.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Obama tried to close a big pollution loophole. Trump wants to keep it.

      The mix-and-match trucks end up polluting 40 to 55 times more than new trucks, releasing compounds like soot and nitrogen dioxide that cause smog and hurt breathing. Since gliders contain refurbished engines, they aren’t held to the same pollution control standards as new trucks with new motors.

    • High levels of microplastics found in Northwest Atlantic fish

      The team found a wide array of microplastics in the fish stomachs—with a whopping 73% of the fish having ingested the pollutants. “We recorded one of the highest frequencies of microplastics among fish species globally,” says Wieczorek. “In particular, we found high levels of plastic fibers such as those used in textiles.”

    • South Dakota Keystone Pipeline spill cleanup is on schedule, TransCanada says

      Last November, the pipeline leaked 210,000 gallons of crude oil onto agricultural land in Marshall County, one of the largest on-shore oil spills in the U.S. since 2010.

    • High Tide Bulletin: Spring 2018

      The rising and falling of the sea is a phenomenon upon which we can always depend. Tides are the regular rise and fall of the sea surface caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun and their position relative to the earth.There are some factors that cause the tides to be higher than what is “normally” seen from day to day. This bulletin tells you when you may experience higher than normal high tides for the period of time between March and May 2018.

    • Months away from Malaysian election, EU’s move stirs discontent in palm groves

      Around 10 per cent of Malaysia’s 30 million people belong to families who own smallholdings dedicated to harvesting palm oil, and they account for the majority of voters in nearly a quarter of the national assembly’s 222 seats.

    • Orangutan numbers in Borneo plummet by more than 100,000 in just 16 years

      About half of the orangutans on the island of Borneo were either killed or removed between 1999 and 2015, according to new research.

  • Finance

    • Top NYT Editor: ‘We Are Pro-Capitalism, the Times Is in Favor of Capitalism’

      Media criticism is, more often than not, a practice of inference: seeing patterns and inferring from those patterns the political make-up of media. Occasionally, however, decision-makers from major media outlets come right out and openly declare their ideology. This is what New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet—likely the most influential gatekeeper in all of media—did when he told Times staffers in a closed-door meeting last December that the paper of record was “pro-capitalism.”

      [...]

      The most pernicious ideology of our media class, as FAIR has noted time and again, is the belief they don’t have an ideology; the belief that the American ruling class and its media auxiliaries have reached the End of History, that capitalism is a non-negotiable good, and the job of media curators is to manage how best to implement this good. That there could be another way of looking at things, or that these assumptions should be challenged on a fundamental level, is tantamount to Flat-Eartherism or Holocaust denial.

      [...]

      Instead, as FAIR (4/20/17, 6/20/17) noted of the New York Times last year, the so-called liberal media drifts further and further right even as the Democratic Party base grows more and more progressive. On the dubious altar of “ideological diversity,” the Times seeks out right-wing provocateurs like Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss—those who have mastered the careerist trick of being offensive without ever being subversive—but Bennet mysteriously can’t find anyone further left than anti-Sanders partisan Paul Krugman.

      “Ideological diversity” at the Times has time and again meant augmenting their pro-Israel, pro-capitalist, pro-bombing liberals with pro-Israel, pro-capitalism, pro-bombing conservatives. This is the scope of discourse at the paper of record, and one now openly acknowledged by its top opinion shaper.

    • Brexit and the contest between process and publicity

      When historians one day seek to make sense of Brexit what will be the most useful documents for them to look at so as to understand the respective approaches of the UK and the EU?

      For the EU, it will be straight-forward.

      To understand how the EU approached the UK’s departure from the EU, the historian will be able to look at position papers and other official documents.

      Of course, these documents will need to be supplemented by other evidence not in the public domain. But there has been a remarkable consistency between what the EU has said about Brexit and what has done. One set of public statements has led to another.

      For example, you can trace most parts of the draft Withdrawal Agreement back to the December joint report, and then in turn back to the position papers from the negotiation.

    • Blockchain: 3 things people get wrong

      Blockchain has been all the rage as a trend for the past couple of years. It’s widely viewed as an important technological development – and I agree with that view. But that doesn’t mean we should all give ourselves over to the hype and think blockchain is going to be the answer for everything. (CIOs, displaying their skeptical side, already see this trend a bit differently than analysts do, according to several recent data points.)

    • How Senior Daddies — Like Donald Trump — Are Eligible For a Social Security Bonus

      Would you believe that President Donald Trump is eligible for an extra Social Security benefit of around $15,000 a year because of his 11-year-old son, Barron Trump? Well, you should believe it, because it’s true.

      How can this be? Because under Social Security’s rules, anyone like Trump who is old enough to get retirement benefits and still has a child under 18 can get this supplement — without having paid an extra dime in Social Security taxes for it.

      The White House declined to tell us whether Trump is taking Social Security benefits, which by our estimate would range from about $47,100 a year (including the Barron bucks) if he began taking them at age 66, to $58,300 if he began at 70, the age at which benefits reach their maximum.

    • The blockchain market is hot; here’s how to learn the skills for it

      The job of developing blockchain distributed ledgers for businesses was recently ranked second among the top 20 fastest-growing job skills, and postings for workers with those skills grew more than 200% last year.

      Salaries for blockchain developer or “engineer” positions are accordingly high, with median salaries in the U.S. hovering around $130,000 a year; that compares to general software developers, whose annual median pay is $105,000, according to Matt Sigelman, CEO of job data analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies.

    • When You Can’t Afford to Go Bankrupt

      A ritual of spring in America is about to begin. Tens of thousands of people will soon get their tax refunds, and when they do, they will finally be able to afford the thing they’ve thought about for months, if not years: bankruptcy.

    • This Bitcoin-Trading Family Man Faced Years in Prison. Now He’s Telling His Story

      Referenced in court documents only as “Undercover Agent #1,” the guy seemed normal enough at first, Klein says: He presented himself as a business person, someone fascinated with bitcoin and wanting to learn more. They met at an Einstein Bros. Bagels shop and Klein sold him $1,000 worth of bitcoin, making his usual commission of about 10%. Then the guy asked if he could bring in a business partner who also wanted to understand what this bitcoin business was all about. “Unbeknownst to me,” Klein says, that person was Undercover Agent #2.

      [...]

      During one meeting these contacts suggested they would use the bitcoin to buy “Girl Scout cookies,” a reference to drugs that Klein says he didn’t understand at the time. Then, one day in late 2015, he met them to do a trade and afterward the pair outright said they were going to use the digital tokens to buy cocaine, suggesting they were drug dealers.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Dianne Feinstein Isn’t Too Old—but She Is Too Out of Touch

      Dianne Feinstein is the oldest sitting senator in America. She entered Congress in 1992 (when I was 4 years old). Today, at age 84, she is running for a fifth term in office, and a lot of people in the Golden State are unhappy about it—enough to deny Feinstein the state Democratic Party endorsement at this past Saturday’s convention.

      Feinstein spent a great deal of that convention serving scrambled eggs to the delegates and giving speeches about her decades of legislative experience—which suggests that she still doesn’t get why her reelection bid hasn’t been embraced by all. Her primary opponent, State Senate President Kevin de León, put it bluntly during the convention when he proclaimed that “it’s time for a new generation to lead.”

      He’s right.

    • Nota bene: The arbitrage that won the 2016 election

      The arbitrage was recently revealed by Antonio García Martínez, the first product manager for Facebook’s Custom Audiences. Underlying the trade is an inversion of what used to be considered a timeless, universal truth: that direct marketing would always cost more than brand advertising, on a per-person-reached basis. That wasn’t true, in 2016. The result was that Donald Trump got millions and possibly billions of dollars’ worth of brand advertising from Facebook for free, while Hillary Clinton was largely left out in the cold.

    • Kobach’s Proof-of-Citizenship Law Heads to Trial

      Kansans will have their day in court to challenge Kobach’s law that blocked more than 35,000 voter registrations.

    • An Industry Group Says the Trump Administration Is Run “Like a Bad Family Owned Small Business” — And They Love It

      What does American business really think of President Donald Trump?

      One candid glimpse emerges in a pair of PowerPoint presentations delivered last year by top executives of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), one of the construction industry’s national trade groups.

    • Trump administration hired more than 75 lawyers with ties to agencies they oversee

      More than 75 Trump administration lawyers either represented clients in the industries they regulate or had clients with business before the government, according to a report released Thursday by the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen.

      The group looked at the background of 127 senior attorneys in the executive branch and found that 76 had connections to their agencies in the private sector. The analysis excluded lawyers from independent agencies like the Federal Communications Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    • How Big Law Has Captured the Trump Administration

      Big Law is a scourge of modern politics we don’t often hear about—-the collection of 200 or so giant law firms, populated with hundreds of partners, that jostle for prominence in Washington and the nation. Firms like Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day have become a way station between government and business where partners can advocate for corporate clients while awaiting appointment to Executive Branch offices. Once inside government, they push to collaborate with corporate power rather than offer resistance. In many cases they oversee the same industries they once worked for. We elect politicians and then we get corporate-approved policies churned out by Big Law; it’s a kind of policy deep state. Big Law provides the oil that makes the revolving door spin.

      This cozy relationship knows no one party; Covington & Burling famously held open a corner office for Eric Holder while he negotiated settlements with many of their banking clients. But the Trump administration has taken merging with Big Law to new heights. A new report from Public Citizen, provided first to The Nation, “Big Law, Big Conflicts,” identifies 76 different lawyers working or nominated to work at cabinet agencies or inside the White House who either worked for Big Law firms or directly in the legal departments of corporations. These lawyers, seeded across the government, “either previously represented companies with business before the government, or worked in the same field they now oversee,” writes report author Alan Zibel.

    • When fighting fake news aids censorship

      Many media analysts have rightly identified the dangers posed by “fake news,” but often overlook what the phenomenon means for journalists themselves. Not only has the term become a shorthand way to malign an entire industry; autocrats are invoking it as an excuse to jail reporters and justify censorship, often on trumped-up charges of supporting terrorism.

      Around the world, the number of honest journalists jailed for publishing fake or fictitious news is at an all-time high of at least 21. As non-democratic leaders increasingly use the “fake news” backlash to clamp down on independent media, that number is likely to climb.

      The US, once a world leader in defending free speech, has retreated from this role. President Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades about “fake news” have given autocratic regimes an example by which to justify their own media crackdowns. In December, China’s state-run People’s Daily newspaper posted tweets and a Facebook post welcoming Trump’s fake news mantra, noting that it “speaks to a larger truth about Western media.” This followed the Egyptian government’s praise for the Trump administration in February 2017, when the country’s foreign ministry criticized Western journalists for their coverage of global terrorism.

    • MSNBC’s Big Names Completely Ignore West Virginia Teachers Strike

      Eight days into the first wildcat strike by West Virginia teachers in 27 years—organized by rank-and-file union members in all 55 West Virginia counties—America’s largest liberal cable network, MSNBC, is a virtual no-show in reporting on the momentous labor unrest.

      Save for one two-minute throwaway report from daytime show Velshi and Ruhle (2/27/18), MSNBC hasn’t dedicated a single segment to the strike—despite the strike’s unprecedented size and scope, which garnered major coverage from major outlets like CNN (3/1/18), the New York Times (3/1/18), Washington Post (3/2/18), Vox (2/24/18) and dozens of others.

      The most glaring omission is from the three highly paid primetime hosts: Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell and former In These Times and Nation writer Chris Hayes. None of the three big hosts have tweeted about it, much less mentioned the subject on air.

    • Italy’s Choice: Shock or Stagnation

      In 2017, populist sentiment helped outsiders increase their support in Holland, France, Germany and Austria, although none of them won any elections outright. This led European elites to breath a major sigh of relief, in the hope that the nationalist and populist broadsides against neoliberal E.U. economic policies and tensions around undocumented immigration, would not force an actual change in the institutions.

      Geert Wilder’s Freedom Party in Holland came in a distant second, and Marine Le Pen of the National Front in France was soundly defeated in a run-off election with Emmanuel Macron. Yet the effects of the voters’ revolt that emerged forcefully in the 2016 Brexit vote and the U.S. Presidential elections were subsequently felt in two more unexpected locations: Germany and Austria.

      In Germany the largest two parties, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats both lost a considerable number of votes. This drop, coupled with the rise of the anti-E.U. Alternative for Deutschland (Afd), had major repercussions, forcing Chancellor Angela Merkel to engage in months of talks for a new Grand Coalition with the Social Democrats. Before the election, almost all commentators had predicted an easy win for Merkel.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Judge Tells Prosecutors They Need To Prove Contractor Knew He Had Classified Docs In His 50-Terabyte Stash

      The federal judge presiding over the prosecution of a government contractor who took home 50 terabytes of sensitive national security documents home with him has sent a message. And the message is this: collect it all.

      Harold Martin did what surveillance agencies do best. He built himself a haystack of government documents, some of them designated “top secret.” The prosecution is counting on this haystack to put Harold Martin in prison on espionage charges. But the judge has just ordered prosecutors to prove the few “top secret” needles justify a conviction for the entire haystack. Josh Gerstein at Politico has the details.

    • Mother of Accused NSA Leaker Reality Winner: My Daughter Wasn’t Read Her Miranda Rights

      On Tuesday, former U.S. intelligence contractor Reality Leigh Winner appeared in court in Augusta, Georgia, where her lawyers asked the judge to exclude her statements to FBI agents on the day she was arrested, arguing she was denied her Miranda rights. Winner is a former National Security Agency contractor who has pleaded not guilty to charges she leaked a top-secret document to The Intercept about Russian interference in the 2016 election. She is facing up to 10 years in prison on charges she violated the Espionage Act. For more, we speak with two guests. In Chicago, we’re joined by Kevin Gosztola, a journalist and managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He was in the courtroom in Augusta on Tuesday, and his recent article is titled “In Reality Winner’s Case, Defense Seizes Upon FBI Testimony to Bolster Motion to Suppress Statements.” And in Augusta, Georgia, we speak with by Reality Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis. She’s joining us from her daughter’s house, where Reality Winner was questioned and arrested by FBI agents on June 3.

    • Australian Government Continues To Push Encryption Backdoors It Refuses To Call Encryption Backdoors

      The Australian government has decided it can beat math at its own game. The laws of math will be defeated by the laws of Australia, the government declared last year. In an effort to tackle something this article calls “terror encryption,” the Home Office says laws punching holes in encryption for government access are just around the corner.

      Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull may not understand the laws of mathematics or how signing a bunch of words into law doesn’t actually suspend them, but he does know tech companies are going to figure it out for him. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton agrees: the government just needs to mandate broken encryption and the tech companies will handle the rest. It’s for the good of the country, if not the world.

    • Prosecution of NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner Hinges on FBI Interrogation

      The case against ex-NSA employee Reality Winner, accused of leaking intelligence documents, hinges on a defense motion to suppress statements she made to FBI agents where she admitted being responsible for the leak. Winner’s lawyers have argued her comments shouldn’t be admitted as evidence against her, as she was not under arrest at the time.

    • Facebook’s creepy file on EVERY internet user – how YOU can find yours
    • The weird and surprising things I found in the file Facebook has on me

      Since the moment I, and everyone else signed up, the social media service has been collecting and keeping everything — I seriously mean everything — we have ever done on the site. All the conversations, videos, pictures and documents we have shared or have had sent to us are all held on a server somewhere with space specially dedicated to each of us.

    • How London’s 7/7 Bombings Led to “Unprecedented” Surveillance Tactics

      It was early-morning rush hour in London on Thursday, July 7, 2005, when a series of explosions shut down the city’s transport network. At first, the authorities suspected an electricity fault was to blame. But it soon emerged that four Islamist suicide attackers had detonated bombs on three underground trains and a bus, killing 52 people and injuring more than 700.

    • Norway Used NSA Technology for Potentially Illegal Spying

      Behind an abandoned military facility 40 miles northwest of Oslo, Norway built a surveillance base in close collaboration with the National Security Agency. Its bright, white satellite dishes, some of them 60 feet in diameter, stand out against the backdrop of pine-covered hills and red-roofed buildings that scatter the area.

      Classified documents describe the facility as “state-of-the-art,” with capabilities “previously not released outside of NSA.” Despite a hefty price tag of more than $33 million paid by Norwegian taxpayers, the Norwegian Intelligence Service has kept the operations at the site beyond public scrutiny.

      [...]

      Norwegian intelligence sent employees on multiple trips to receive training and test equipment at the NSA, and a delegation from a now-defunct NSA Yakima facility in Washington state traveled to Norway. Meanwhile, NSA employees based in Oslo took delivery of more than 90 containers crammed with electronic equipment, which were sent by boat and airplane, according to an October 2005 article in SIDtoday, an internal NSA newsletter. Two months later, on December 15, 2005, the Norwegian Intelligence Service’s director, Torgeir Hagen, declared VICTORYGARDEN operational. An NSA article describing the base’s opening ceremony concluded: “We have only begun to see future possibilities to benefit both our nations and the free world.”

    • The Powerful Global Spy Alliance You Never Knew Existed

      It is one of the world’s most powerful alliances. And yet most people have probably never heard of it, because its existence is a closely guarded government secret.

      The “SIGINT Seniors” is a spy agency coalition that meets annually to collaborate on global security issues. It has two divisions, each focusing on different parts of the world: SIGINT Seniors Europe and SIGINT Seniors Pacific. Both are led by the U.S. National Security Agency, and together they include representatives from at least 17 other countries. Members of the group are from spy agencies that eavesdrop on communications – a practice known as “signals intelligence,” or SIGINT.

      Details about the meetings of the SIGINT Seniors are disclosed in a batch of classified documents from the NSA’s internal newsletter SIDToday, provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published today by The Intercept. The documents shine light on the secret history of the coalition, the issues that the participating agencies have focused on in recent years, and the systems that allow allied countries to share sensitive surveillance data with each other.

    • ‘NSA-proof’ Tor actually funded by US govt agency, works with BBG, FBI & DOJ – FOIA docs

      The Tor Project, hailed as a bulwark against the encroaching surveillance state, has received funding from US government agency the BBG and cooperates with intelligence agencies, newly released documents reveal.

      Tor, free software which enables anonymous communication over the internet, is a “privatized extension of the very same government that it claimed to be fighting,” claims journalist Yasha Levine, who obtained 2,500 pages of correspondence about the project via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

    • Privacy project Tor claimed to be in US Government’s pocket

      In an explosive revelation, the Tor Project, which produces a browser said to be the gold standard for privacy, is being funded by the US Government agency BBG and co-operates with American intelligence agencies, a report claims.

    • Tor Project “Almost 100% Funded By The US Government”: FOIA

      The FOIA documents also suggest that Tor’s ability to shield users from government spying may be nothing more than hot air. While no evidence of a “backdoor” exists, the documents obtained by Levine reveal that Tor has “no qualms with privately tipping off the federal government to security vulnerabilities before alerting the public, a move that would give the feds an opportunity to exploit the security weakness long before informing Tor users.”

    • Man involved in shooting cop and was found via stingray given 20 years

      On Wednesday afternoon, US District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ordered the lead defendant, Purvis Ellis, to 20 years in prison. Ars chronicled the Ellis case more than two years ago in a lengthy feature and described how Ellis was located via the use of cell-site simulators. These devices, which spoof ordinary cell towers, are often used by police to locate criminal suspects. However, in recent years, judges nationwide have increasingly scrutinized use of the surveillance tool.

    • Detroit Police Are Playing ‘Big Brother’ at Local Businesses

      If you’ve been to Detroit recently, you may have seen flashing green lights outside liquor stores, gas stations, and other businesses. The lights, according to police, are supposed to act as a deterrent, warning criminals that cameras are present, streaming real-time images of everyone entering or leaving the premises straight into police headquarters. This is the Motor City’s two-year-old surveillance program, Project Green Light, which its evangelists argue reduces crime at minimal expense to the city’s taxpayers.

      The problem with that optimistic prediction is that study after study has shown that there is little evidence, if any, that programs like this work. But there is something we do know for sure: Programs like these violate our constitutional right to privacy by allowing police to peer into our lives without having to bother to get a search warrant.

      Constant video streaming to the authorities amounts to an open-ended warrant without probable cause, enabling Detroit police as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies — including the FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — to view and record the comings and goings of innocent Americans. This means that even when not open to the public, cameras would capture the inside and outside of restaurants, book stores, and coffee shops, which are common meeting places for many organizations, such as unions, immigrant rights advocates, and religious congregations.

    • 22 illegal immigrants hiding in truck discovered by infrared photographs

      The thermography images show how the immigrants were captured in the Emirate of Sharjah, in the north east of the United Arab Emirates.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Radical Islamic cleric charged with inciting terror attacks

      Radical Islamic cleric Aman Abdurrahman faces the death penalty after being charged yesterday with inciting others to commit various terror attacks in Indonesia, including an attack in Jakarta in 2016 that left four bystanders dead.

    • Fighting sexism, India’s police ask: When is ‘women only’ good for women?

      Jaipur’s 28 all-female units, among the first in India, are just one manifestation of a deep national soul-searching over the scourges of sexual harassment and gender-based violence – and police’s role in fighting them. Along with all-female police stations, they’re meant to encourage more women to come forward and report abuse. But the question for many women’s groups is whether such “all women” initiatives can change the underlying attitudes that so often allow it to go unchecked. Many argue they are little more than window dressing, letting top brass contend they are addressing women’s safety while in fact shunting it aside.

    • Woman injured in #NoDAPL clash sues federal government for evidence

      “On information and belief, over the past fourteen months, the government has not issued any indictments or made a single arrest related to Sophia’s injury,” the complaint states. “Wayne has repeatedly requested that the government honor its agreement and return Sophia’s possessions, or at least make them available to Sophia’s forensic chemist for nondestructive analysis. The government continues to refuse to do so.”

    • Injured DAPL protest files suit for clothing, shrapnel

      Attorneys for 22-year-old Sophia Wilansky, of New York, filed the lawsuit Friday, Feb. 2, alleging unlawful deprivation of property, lack of due process and unreasonable seizure.

      [...]

      Wilansky has undergone numerous surgeries to her left forearm from the explosion, which left her “permanently disfigured and disabled.”

    • NSA Used Porn to “Break Down Detainees” in Iraq — and Other Revelations From 297 Snowden Documents

      He was an NSA staffer but also a volunteer, having signed up to provide technical expertise for a wide-ranging, joint CIA mission in Iraq. He did not know what he was getting himself into.

      After arriving in Baghdad “grungy and tired,” the staffer would later write, he discovered that the CIA and its partner, the Defense Intelligence Agency, had moved beyond talking to locals and were now intent on looking through their computer files. Marines would bring the NSA man “laptops, hard drives, CDs, phones and radios.” Sometimes the devices were covered in blood — and quite often they contained pornography, deemed “extremely useful” in humiliating and “breaking down” for interrogation the people who owned them.

    • Time has come to save mentally ill inmates from solitary confinement

      The first thing that hits you is the smell—an acrid stench that knocks you back a few paces.

      When you see inside the cells, you understand. Men, often nude, are covered in filth. Their cell floors are littered with rancid milk cartons and food containers. Their stopped-up toilets overflow with waste.

      These are the living conditions that prisoners with acute mental illness endure in the Maricopa County Jail’s Special Management Unit (SMU) in downtown Phoenix. In my 23 years of visiting prisons and jails nationwide, it is the single worst unit I have ever seen.

    • Five Years After His Arrest, Prosecutors Try To Push Back Justin Carter’s ‘Terroristic Threat’ Trial

      Way back in the summer of 2013, Justin Carter, a teen living in Texas, made a joke on Facebook while chatting with other League of Legends players. Responding to facetious comments he was insane, Carter sarcastically agreed, using a very regrettable choice of words.

    • Shock as Islamic Fundamentalist Gets Green Light to Start School in Sweden

      Behind the divisive initiative is Conservative MP Abdirizak Waberi, who notoriously called for banning music and dancing, prohibiting boys and girls from socializing and allowing men to beat their four wives with sticks when they became disobedient.

      After protracted deliberations, the Islamic School Foundation has been ultimately granted the right to open a contested Muslim “free school” in the city of Borås, the newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported. The Borås municipality has long fought to stop the school that, it contended, would impede the integration process and cement segregation.

    • Old Speech, Photo Used In False FBI Muslim Crackdown Story

      A story that falsely reports President Donald Trump ordered the FBI in all 50 U.S. states to take action immediately against Muslim people is based largely on a speech 10 months ago by the then-head of the Department of Homeland Security, and also misquotes that speech.

    • Al-Ain’s Caio becomes latest UAE league player to receive fine for ‘unethical haircut’

      The Brazilian midfielder, who joined the UAE side in 2016, was fined AED1,000 ($272) by the UAE FA’s disciplinary committee for the haircut.

      It comes just a week after the federation punished Moroccan Murad Batna of Al Wahda with a similar fine for exactly the same offense.

    • She Owed $102,158.40 in Unpaid Tickets, but She’s Not in the Story

      At first, we thought it was a typo, a misplaced decimal. Bankruptcy records showed that a woman from Chicago’s South Side owed the city $102,158.40 for unpaid tickets. Could one person really rack up that much ticket debt?

      “Nobody will believe me,” she later told me. “But every single year, they send me 30 pages in an envelope with all the tickets. I just throw it away. I don’t look at it. It’s really stressful. You don’t understand how stressful it is to be in debt.”

      I’ve spent the past five months going down one avenue after another to figure out why thousands of Chicago drivers turn to Chapter 13 bankruptcy to cope with debt stemming from parking and traffic camera tickets. We published our story this week in partnership with Mother Jones.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Telecom Sector Can’t Stop Falsely Claiming That Net Neutrality Will Harm The Sick, Derail Smart Cars

      If you’ve paid attention to the net neutrality debate, you’ll recall that large ISPs routinely threaten to hold back on network investment if governments pass rules protecting an open, healthy internet. They also routinely try to claim that the passage of such protections cause a massive slowdown in overall sector investment, something that simply isn’t supported by actual facts (remember them?). Such rhetoric is fear mongering designed to scare regulators away from imposing “job killing regulations,” even if those regulations make sense for a telecom market where limited competition fails to keep bad actors in check.

      This hollow fear mongering has played a starring role as carriers worldwide begin to deploy faster fifth-generation wireless (5G) networks. You’ll recall that both American and European telcos have routinely tried to claim that the deployment of these faster, more efficient wireless networks will be derailed by net neutrality.

      Usually, this rhetoric is accompanied by claims that 5G will be the centerpiece of the smart cities of tomorrow, and that net neutrality rules will prevent ISPs from using these networks to provide prioritized connectivity for health and other related services. Ignored is the fact that this has never been a problem, since any well-crafted net neutrality rules carve out massive loopholes for all manner of essential services, especially on the medical front. Of course that doesn’t stop ISPs from routinely claiming that net neutrality hurts sick people all the same.

    • Sprint’s CEO Thinks This Whole Killing Net Neutrality Thing Is Pretty Nifty

      So when the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality rules were passed, we warned how the agency’s failure to include zero rating (exempting an ISP’s own content or the content of a deep-pocketed partner) was going to let ISPs creatively engage in anti-competitive behavior. And sure enough, companies like Verizon and AT&T began exempting their own content from usage caps, giving them a leg up in the market. Carriers like Sprint similarly began to fracture the internet experience, at one point charging users more money if they wanted to enjoy music, video and games without having their connection throttled.

      T-Mobile pushed these creative barriers further with its Binge On offering, which exempted only the biggest and most popular video services from the company’s usage caps. This automatically put thousands of smaller video providers, non-profits, educational institutions and startups at a notable market disadvantage, but by and large nobody outside of the EFF and academia gave much of a damn because a) ill-informed consumers are happy laboring under the illusion that they’re getting something for free and b) the public (and by proxy media) was lazy and tired of debating net neutrality.

    • Washington State Laughs In The Face Of FCC Attempts To Ban States From Protecting Net Neutrality

      In the wake of the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, nearly half the states in the union are now in the process of passing new net neutrality rules. Some states are pushing for legislation that mirrors the discarded FCC rules, while others (including Montana) have signed executive orders banning states from doing business with ISPs that engage in anti-competitive net neutrality violations.

      Of course incumbent ISPs saw this coming, which is why both Verizon and Comcast successfully lobbied the FCC to include language in its repeal that tries to “preempt” state authority over ISPs entirely. But this effort to ban states from protecting consumers (not just from net neutrality violations) rests on untested legal ground, which is why some ISPs are also pushing for fake net neutrality laws they hope will preempt these state efforts.

    • Defying Pai’s FCC, Washington state passes law protecting net neutrality

      The bill comes in response to the Federal Communications Commission decision in December 2017 to scrap federal net neutrality rules. The state bill still needs the signature of Governor Jay Inslee, who previously pledged to enforce net neutrality “under our own authority and under our own laws,” calling it “a free speech issue as well as a business development issue.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Fair Use Protects So Much More Than Many Realize

        With copyright being abused to shut down innovation and speech, and copyright terms lasting for generations, fair use is more important than ever. Without fair use, we’d see less creativity. We’d see less news reporting and commentary. And we’d see far less innovation.

        Fair use allows people to use copyrighted materials for certain purposes without payment or permission. If something is fair use, it is not infringing on a copyright.

        A video remix or a story that critiques culture by incorporating famous characters and giving them new meaning or context is an example of fair use in action. Culture grows because creators are constantly reworking what’s in it. If Superman is portrayed as someone other than a white man, that is a clearly a commentary on the symbol of “truth, justice, and the American way.”

        Commentary also relies on fair use. Criticism is made stronger when the material being interrogated can be included in the critique. It is difficult to show why someone was wrong or add context to someone else’s report without including at least part of it. We recently wrote about the Second Circuit’s decision that part of the service offered by TVEyes, a subscription company that provides searchable transcripts and video archives of television and radio, was not fair use. In particular, the court seemed to say that what makes TVEyes so objectionable was that it made material available without Fox News’ permission. One of the reasons fair use is so important to the First Amendment is because it doesn’t require permission. Who would let researchers, academics, and journalists get access to their material for the purpose of saying if and how they’re wrong?

        The ways fair use improves our creative culture and our commentary are apparent every time we see fan art on the Internet or watch news commentary. The ways fair use protects innovation can be more subtle.

      • The Post-TPP Future of Digital Trade in Asia

        On March 8, trade representatives from eleven Pacific rim countries including Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Australia are expected to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The agreement has been slimmed down both in its content—22 items in the text have been suspended, including the bulk of the intellectual property chapter—and also in its membership, with the exclusion of the United States which had been the driver of those suspended provisions.

        What remains in the CPTPP is the agreement’s Electronic Commerce (also called digital trade) chapter, which will set new, flawed rules for the region on topics such as the free flow of electronic data, access to software source code, and even rules applicable to domain name privacy and dispute resolution. But it’s not the only Asian trade agreement seeking to set such rules. There’s another lesser-known but equally important agreement under negotiation by sixteen countries, called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

        Like CPTPP, RCEP would cover issues that are critical to the digital economy such as custom duties on electronic products, supply of cross-border services, paperless trading, telecommunications, intellectual property, source code disclosure, privacy and cross-border data flows. But unlike CPTPP, RCEP includes the giants of China and India, meaning that the agreement would represent a massive 28.5 percent of global trade. While India’s commitment to the deal has become somewhat equivocal, RCEP holds an important place in China’s ambitions to consolidate its leadership role in the region.

      • The 2nd Circuit Contributes To Fair Use Week With An Odd And Problematic Ruling On TVEyes

        For years, we’ve quoted a copyright lawyer/law professor who once noted that the standards for fair use are an almost total crapshoot: nearly any case can have almost any result, depending on the judge (and sometimes jury) in the case. Even though there are “four factors” that must be evaluated, judges will often bend over backwards to twist those four factors to get to their desired result. Some might argue that this is a good thing in giving judges discretion in coming up with the “right” solution. But, it also means that there’s little real “guidance” on fair use for people who wish to make use of it. And that’s a huge problem, as it discourages and suppresses many innovations that might otherwise be quite useful.

        Case in point: earlier this week the 2nd Circuit rejected a lower court decision in the Fox News v. TVEyes case. If you don’t recall, TVEyes provides a useful media monitoring service that records basically all TV and radio, and makes the collections searchable and accessible. It’s a useful tool for other media companies (which want to use clips), for large PR firms tracking mentions, and for a variety of other uses as well. The initial ruling was a big win for fair use (even when done for profit) and against Fox News’ assertion of the obsolete doctrine of “Hot News” misappropriation. That was good. However, that initial ruling only covered some aspects of TVEyes’ operations — mainly the searching and indexing. A second ruling was more of a mixed bag, saying that archiving the content was fair use, but allowing downloading the content and “date and time search” (as opposed to content search) was not fair use.

      • EU Commission Proposes Measures Against Illegal Online Content Including IP Infringement

        The European Commission today recommended a set of operational measures against a wide range of online content considered illegal, lumping intellectual property rights-infringing material in with that of terrorists, child sexual abusers, hate speech, and commercial scams.

      • Dotcom: Obama Admitted “Mistakes Were Made” in Megaupload Case

        Kim Dotcom is claiming that an associate was able to hire a friend of the Obamas to ask about the Megaupload case. “Mistakes were made. It hasn’t gone well. It’s a problem. I’ll see to it after the election,” Barack Obama reportedly said. With Obama due to land in New Zealand next month, Dotcom says he’ll have a court subpoena waiting for the former president.

      • Switzerland Hopes New Law Will Keep it Off U.S. ‘Pirate Watchlist’

        Switzerland hopes that its newly proposed copyright law will be enough to keep the country off the United States’ Special 301 Report watchlist. The Swiss Government notes that the law addresses two of the main piracy concerns previously identified by the US.

Battistelli’s Last Four Months: Peak Censorship at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…and then the person who Battistelli lobbied for (to prevent an ICC judge becoming EPO President) takes over the Office

A library sign

Summary: Voices against UPC and EPO management are being muzzled in blogs/sites with connections to both; but sadly for Team UPC and EPO management, facts remain facts and there’s no justice at the EPO (only illusion thereof)

NOW THAT EPO management is censoring staff that says the truth (or expresses an opinion) we expect to see an abundance of lies coming out.

Battistelli has always sought a monopoly on information; this is why he spent a vast amount of money (not his, the EPO’s) paying the media, paying academia, and paying for bogus ‘studies’ with predefined outcomes. As we showed yesterday, there’s another one in the making. The EPO announced it this week.

Staff is not happy. This kind of behaviour typically results in even more leaking. The article we saw last night in Cambodian media now has this new comment in it. “We are impressed,” it says. “The Sun King or Putin, Battistelli, as his own staff calls him, extends the “value” of patents that he had actively contributed to render worthless to Cambodia. What a gorgeous present!!! What comes next? An extension to St Marteen or Vanatu, maybe?”

“Battistelli has always sought a monopoly on information; this is why he spent a vast amount of money (not his, the EPO’s) paying the media, paying academia, and paying for bogus ‘studies’ with predefined outcomes.”There’s now more censorship of comments at IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog (it got worse/escalated recently, using bogus pretexts), but that too cannot silence staff. They’ll just reach out to other avenues in which their voices can be heard. Less than a day ago Kluwer Patent Blog again published yet another UPC propaganda piece. These people are terrible. The blog interviewed Luke McDonagh (likely by Bristows masquerading as "Kluwer Patent blogger"). “There is scepticism whether the Unified Patent Court will ever be set up,” says the headline (not too provocative although it’s realism rather than scepticism, which is an understatement).

A few hours ago IP Kat was pushing the EPO's buzzword (or buzz term) that's used to disguise illegal software patents. Funny how IP Kat no longer covers EPO scandals but finds plenty of time/space to serve Team Battistelli.

Days ago there was a Bristows-posted ad for the EPO. It was misleading.

“There’s now more censorship of comments at IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog (it got worse/escalated recently, using bogus pretexts), but that too cannot silence staff.”“Appeal boards now advertise lawyer job as permanent,” one person told us. “But it is not. Five years.”

Bristows put out a false job ad, just like it was pushing out false job ads (jobs that will never exist) for UPC judges. If the President of the Appeal Boards (BoA) decides on promotions, appointments, if you have job, etc. can you make independent decisions? So say some readers of ours. The whole thing is farcical.

Curiously, as of a few hours ago, there was this new comment (posted yesterday, but only approved today) showing that the EPO’s BoA is a sham and not representative of member states (neither EPO-wide nor EU-wide) under Battistelli. Read this:

The offer seems prima facie only interesting for people having a safety net, for instance, having the possibility to go back to a national civil service from which they were detached to perform their duties at the EPO.

This may explain why most of the new recruits to the legal board appear to have been German judges.

In October 2016, the percentage of German legal members on the Legal Board was already 43%, and following further appointments in October 2016 it has risen to nearly 47% (15 out of 32). In other words nearly every second legal member is German.

The inordinately high percentage of German members causes difficulties in distributing business to the technical boards of appeal, because on boards with a German chairman (currently five), the goal is to avoid panels composed entirely of members with the same nationality. This leaves less room when assigning legal members to individual technical boards, and when composing panels to hear individual cases.

The present situation also gives rise to other problems: the legal members of the Enlarged Board are appointed exclusively from the Legal Board of Appeal. Due to provisions regarding nationality which exist for proceedings under Article 112 EPC and Article 23(1) EPC, such a high percentage of one nationality in the Legal Board leads to problems when constituting the Enlarged Board and composing its panels to hear individual cases.

As always, comments in IP Kat and Kluwer Patent Blog are a lot more informative than articles (many of which are written by Bristows, sometimes anonymously, especially when they intentionally lie).

“The EPO will try hard to create or maintain a perception of judges being independent and free to judge as they see fit (based on underlying law, not desires or objectives of Battistelli and his pick, Campinos).”A few hours ago the EPO wrote: “We look forward to receiving your comments on the proposed changes to our appeal procedure.”

“You won’t mind these comments,” I responded. “It’s posturing at best. You try to pretend that users are listened to and justice is still functional…”

Suffice to say, this reality means that UPC will never happen. The German FCC (not to be mistaken/confused with the US FCC) is looking into all this. The EPO will try hard to create or maintain a perception of judges being independent and free to judge as they see fit (based on underlying law, not desires or objectives of Battistelli and his pick, Campinos).

Élodie Bergot Meets Barbra Streisand: Here is the Letter the EPO’s Bergot is Trying Really Hard to Hide/Censor

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is the CSC letter which triggered the threatening letter of Bergot

EPO HR paper

EPO HR paper

EPO HR paper

Summary: The brain drain at the EPO is a serious problem which harms not only staff but also EPO stakeholders (past and present); EPO management now fights a battle it cannot win, namely a war on truth itself

THE management of the EPO has sunk to a level of censorship never seen before.

Last night we wrote about the censorship of the EPO's staff representatives (yet again, this is at least the third time this year and we covered this pattern each time it happened). There’s now some press coverage about that, namely:

The European Patent Office (EPO) has stopped the internal publication of a Central Staff Committee (CSC) article that criticises the office for alleged misconduct towards its staff.

In a letter to the chairman of the CSC Joachim Michels, director of human resources at the EPO Elodie Bergot, suggested that the CSC should “review the content of the proposed publication and delete or modify the parts that are offensive to individuals”.

According to the CSC publication: “Colleagues in human resources behaved ethically correctly in the past. Nowadays they are discouraged. Existing competence and constructive criticism are suppressed. Instead, networks of compliant followers are being built to ruthlessly implement policies that take no account of corporate social responsibility.”

The ‘offensive’ letter can be seen at the top. It’s not unreasonable. Truth itself scares Bergot.

Bergot is in denial. She is lying to staff about the brain drain she is responsible for. It’s worrying that there may soon be not much of an ‘asset’ in the Office; the asset was always the staff’s experience and knowledge. That’s what made the EPO so competitive and the price associated with European Patents a lot higher.

“How to lose your best staff in 5 points,” as a reader told us today, seems relevant to all this. It’s this article at LinkedIn (Microsoft). “It seems to me that Battistelli thoroughly followed the instructions of this guide on “how to get rid of your best staff”,” our reader said.

Stakeholders too would walk away, in due course. Patent quality is slipping. Like we said a few weeks ago, Battistelli now openly promotes software patents and so does the Office, which yesterday wrote this tweet. “That is what EPO calls software patents now,” I told them, “knowing that software patents are not permitted” (as if rules matter to Battistelli).

Speaking of LinkedIn (Microsoft), remember that Microsoft and the EPO are promoting software patents and based on this EPO tweet from yesterday, the EPO now uses Microsoft to manage EPO budget (sort of). “We publish all available tenders with the EPO on the following LinkedIn page,” they wrote. “Follow us there to stay up to date with business opportunities with the EPO…”

To do so they need to give their personal details to Microsoft. What a sham. As if the EPO does not have its own site in which to advertise such information (rather than some for-profit site from another continent).

But worry not, there’s a contigency in another continent. Bergot and Battistelli may be driving away staff and stakeholders, but they will always have Cambodia (with zero patents at the EPO) to fall back on. The latest EPO “news” item is all about Cambodia and last night the Cambodian press said

The validation agreement between the European Patent Organization and Cambodia, a pact envisioned to protect European patents in the kingdom, entered into force yesterday.

To mark the event, the ministry held a ceremony yesterday presided over by Cham Prasidh, the Minister of Industry and Handicraft.

Oum Sotha, spokesman at the ministry, said the accord is meant to protect the interests of EU investors in Cambodia.

Battistelli’s sham “pact” in a county with zero European Patents (EPs) is more of a testament to the infamous French connections (Cambodia is a former French colony). How many EPO stakeholders even care about this? Can today’s EPO charm anyone other than press and politicians that it is literally paying (at stakeholders’ expense)?

03.01.18

European Patent Office (EPO) in Chaos and Attempting to Silence the Staff Would Only Exacerbate Matters

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Censorship in such circumstances/scenarios almost always backfires

Metal whistle

Summary: As the EPO becomes ever more oppressive it makes the mistake of attempting to control communication and transparency, which means that anonymous whistleblowing becomes the last resort to many

THE situation at the EPO has gotten so bad that staff representatives are no longer permitted to talk either to the Council or to the people whom they represent. It’s just so surreal. Earlier today we published this letter and now we see an accompanying message that says “EPO [management] is currently censoring the publication on the Intranet of a CSC communication.”

So basically the management just wants everyone to stay pretty much silent and not disseminate any information because information may then be labeled “defamatory” (that’s how they attempted to justify censorship of Techrights).

The EPO has just hired a firm (warning: epo.org link) to produce for it some more propaganda and without a shadow of a doubt claim — as usual — the very opposite of the truth. The EPO did this many times before and there were many debunkings.

“To ensure anonymity,” the EPO wrote, “an external contractor, BERENT Deutschland GmbH, will conduct the surveys on behalf of the EPO.”

Seriously, anonymity? And they’re on the EPO’s payroll, so how independent can that really be?

Anyway, information is being disseminated by the media right now. Not the German or Swiss or even French media (albeit some Dutch journalists do mention Techrights today).

Following coverage of the USF letter at SUEPO and elsewhere IPPro Patents wrote this article which says:

Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) has penned a letter to senior European Patent Office (EPO) officials highlighting what it calls the “extreme” situation and “shocking events” taking place at the office.

In its letter, addressed to current EPO president Benoît Battistelli, president elect António Campinos and all 38 Delegations of the EPO’s Administrative Council, among others, USF said it had been following the situation with “great concern”.

[...]

USF concluded: “Beyond the mere application of article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (access of individual workers to an independent and impartial court) the issues of the European Social Charter as a universal source of social rights, the locus standi of union and the creation of appellate judicial bodies are now being raised.”

“USF considers that the various organs of the Council of Europe deserve to conduct their discussions and develop their conclusions with an adequate degree of autonomy, but any support or encouragement your institution of government may convey to the current debates at the Council of Europe would help re-establishing decent working conditions, transparency and a positive perception of the EPO by the public.”

The Register too wrote about it this morning and the article alludes to the “Unitary [sic] Patent Court (UPC)” towards the end (should be Unified). To quote some portions:

Pressure is continuing to build on the European Patent Office (EPO) over its treatment of staff and continued refusal to accept the results of an independent tribunal.

This week, Europe’s largest trade union, the Union Syndicale Fédérale (USF) wrote to all 38 members of the EPO’s Administrative Council noting its “great concern” at recent “extreme” EPO management actions that point to “fundamental flaws in the institutional setup of the EPO.”

The letter [PDF] notes that the situation at the EPO – where staff have been hounded and fired and then been ignored when they have taken their cases to an independent tribunal and won – is now being actively discussed in other European institutions, including the Council of Europe.

“USF wishes to draw your attention to an important ongoing debate between organs of the Council of Europe,” the letter notes. “The debates in Strasbourg focused on the issues of strengthening the legal system of international organizations and of the strict limitation of activities covered by their immunity of jurisdiction.”

[...]

That complaint argues that the long-planned Unitary Patent Court (UPC) is not legal because the EPO – which approves patents – has insufficient governance mechanisms. It will be heard later this year.

The situation has grown so dire that the Council of Europe has started looking into making high-level changes to prevent international organizations from going awol – and the initial recommendations are referenced in USF’s letter to the EPO’s Administrative Council.

There are mostly off-topic comments, but one person said about Battistelli: “He’s still there! It’s like trying to get rid of a stubborn stain. I doubt if he’ll pay much attention to them or anybody.”

It’s not just Battistelli anymore but also many of the toxic people he brought after him. Campinos too was his pick, so don’t expect much to change in 4 months when Battistelli leaves.

The Latest Bristows Spin Distracts From the Fact that Britain Has No Intention of Ratifying UPC and Brexit Agreement Altogether Omits It

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 3:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bristows EPO

Summary: In an effort to distract (quite frankly as usual) from another UPC setback in the UK, Bristows LLP speaks about an irrelevant (to the UPC) Luxembourg and attempts to make a draft of the Brexit Agreement seem as though it backs the UPC (it doesn’t)

THIS AFTERNOON we published a long post about the latest UPC deception and we predicted that Bristows would soon spread/seed similar deception in Kluwer Patent Blog. Seems as though our prediction was correct. The EPO hasn’t said anything about the UPC lately (not directly anyway). But Bristows is a loose cannon. The lies just ooze out…

Nobody but those people of Bristows would be crazy enough to insinuate that the future of UPC depends on tiny Luxembourg (its role in the UPC is cursory at best and it barely has any European Patents), but here they are getting so desperate for any positive news. Brian Cordery certainly knows that without France, Germany and the UK ratifying there will never be any UPC at all. Only France ratified.

“Brian Cordery certainly knows that without France, Germany and the UK ratifying there will never be any UPC at all. Only France ratified.”But Cordery’s nonsense/distraction wasn’t the worst. The worst was this ramble about “IP rights” from Kluwer Patent blogger (Bristows publishing anonymously because it knows it’s deceiving/lying).

Like we said aerlier today, the Brexit Agreement does not say a single word about the UPC (this is not a priority at all), but of course Bristows is trying to spin all that and saying the opposite of what is true. They try to make it sound like UPC ratification is imminent or inevitable. Bristows, these greedy liars, are dominant in Kluwer today (on same day, earlier today, Bristows’ Dominic Adair did their usual SPC lobbying/marketing, which his colleague typically does at IP Kat).

“We certainly hope that FCC in Germany is watching this. Any perception (illusion) of justice at the EPO is coincidental.”And speaking of which, Kluwer is not only dominating this UPC-centric blog these days (almost like it does IP Kat); it also does the same at IP Kat, where jobs ads from Bristows reappeared some hours ago. To quote: “The European Patent Office is looking to appoint new legally qualified members of the Boards of Appeal in Munich, see EPO looking for new legally qualified members of the Boards of Appeal for more details.” (composed by Bristows staff, which wants to promote the illusion of effective justice at the EPO)

It would be odd if the Office rather than the Council (or Organisstion) was to appoint members for the Boards of Appeal, but actually that’s not an error because in many ways the Office already controls everything, including the Council. Battistelli gets to choose (or have a say on) President of Boards of Appeal as well as deputies and BOAC.

We certainly hope that FCC in Germany is watching this. Any perception (illusion) of justice at the EPO is coincidental.

Élodie Bergot Threatens Staff Representatives Who Spread Information About the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent releases of old material:

Élodie Bergot’s HR Roadmap Explained by EPO Staff Representatives

Raw: Battistelli, Topić and Bergot Are Stonewalling Until Staff Representatives Speak to EPO Staff

Raw: Battistelli’s Circle (Topić and Bergot) Undermines Justice at the European Patent Office

MoU signed by Bergot
Battistelli, Topić and Bergot

Summary: Team Battistelli (the wife of Battistelli’s old colleague in this case) again reprimands elected staff representatives for doing their job, which is representing and informing EPO staff

WE recently wrote about how EPO management was silencing staff representatives like it had silenced the union (not quite the same thing). With rumours about layoffs the censorship at the EPO appears to have escalated even further.

We now have better understanding of how the latest censorship came about. It’s evident based on the letter below:

Mr Joachim Michels
Chairman of the Central Staff Committee

By email: centralSTCOM@epo.org

[from]

European Patent Office
80298 Munich
Germany

PD 4.3
Human Resources

Elodie Berget
Principal Director

Tel. +49 (0)89 2399 • 4300
ebergot@epo.org

Date: 21.02.2018

Your request dated 19 February 2018 to upload an article on the CSC intranet page

Dear Mr Michels,

Reference is made to your request dated 19 February 2018 to upload an article on the CSC intranet page entitled “Human resources Management – new(s)”. I note that copies of the document in question have already been distributed following the LSC General Assembly in The Hague.

First, I would like to recall that the Office expressly acknowledges the large freedom of expression the staff representatives enjoy. Staff representatives might comment, question and criticize reforms, reorganisations and social policies. It is however noted that the proposed publication contains not only inaccurate but also offensive and if not defamatory statements against managers and colleagues. The strong accusations related notably to a supposed lack of ethics, bias, arbitrariness, violation of duty of care, undue pressure and lack of humanity cannot be accepted and are considered to be unfair attacks against the professionalism and the dignity of individuals. Additionally, despite a previous reminder, the CSC is again relaying information to all staff concerning an employee’s personal situation, which should, as such, be treated with confidentiality.

In this respect, it is recalled that according to the rules, staff representatives shall represent the interests of all staff and maintain suitable contacts with the Administration. It shall also contribute to the smooth running of the service by providing a channel for the expression of opinion.

However, far from defending the interest of the staff, this kind of publication coupled with the anonymous report circulated by staff representatives regarding the working group on modernisation of the employment framework generate suspicion and unjustified disquiet among staff. This is even more so regrettable that, in fact, the discussions within the Working Group were quite constructive and allowed a serious exchange of views.

Consequently, and in view of the above, you might wish to review the content of the proposed publication and delete or modify the parts that are offensive to individuals. Please inform accordingly Internal communication services. Finally, EPO management and myself remain willing to discuss the content of this communication with staff representation. In the meantime, however, the CSC is requested to abstain from spreading this communication further within other fora (internal and external).

Yours sincerely,

Elodie Bergot
Principal Director Human Resources

Long story short, Team Battistelli wants to control all staff communications and thus also know who says what, in order to facilitate retribution at times when layoffs are the ‘canteen gossip’. This is a form of McCarthyism and it makes the EPO look worse than we already know it is. Years ago the EPO blocked access to Techrights (using the same pretexts as above) and we certainly hope that European authorities pay attention to this unprecedented crackdown not only on labour rights but human rights too.

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