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04.19.16

The ‘Great Conspiracy’ of Patent Lawyers, Lobbyists and Large Corporations for UPC and for Software Patents

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Money in circulation, self-serving agenda everywhere one looks…

The undemocratic patent conspiracy (UPC): We'll just call it something misleading

Summary: The “Community patent” or “EU patent” or whatever euphemism those who created it (the architects) use these days (now it’s UPC) is threatening to engulf Europe without the European public ever being consulted about it (the ‘threat’ of democracy overcome by the rich and the powerful)

“It’s hard to see UK making any UPC-related decisions before result of the Brexit referendum is known on 24th June.”

These, surprisingly enough, were the words of IAM’s official Twitter account (based in the UK). We would go even further than this; as the UK is the only large English-speaking country in the EU (Ireland aside), what would a UPC look like without the UK? Would it be accessible to firms from the US? What about British? The language barrier is just one issue among many. The UPC fantasy is anything but a certainty; its proponents hope that by talking about it they’ll make it happen. There’s even a push to practically prepare the UK for it (ahead of any approval, vote, consultation with the public etc.) and UPC propagandists are being quoted by other UPC propagandists as saying that Brexit means nothing at all to UPC, not even to UPC inside the UK. What a farce!

Money talks.

Money can also change a person’s view.

Sadly, as we have pointed out here for a number of years, the debate about UPC is dominated by the few who stand to benefit from it at everybody else’s expense.

The other day Merpel started talking about the UPC in relation to the UK and already leaped to a debate about “UK Patents Court judges”, almost as though the UPC is inevitable and already here to stay. It never even arrived at all. Well, if it ever becomes a reality at all, there’s no guarantee it will reach the UK. Merpel wrote: “It would be misfortunate to squander this available experience, especially in the critical early days of the UPC. The success of the UPC will be determined by the quality of its decisions and, thus, the experience of its judges. Without experienced judges from one of Europe’s widely recognised and frequently used patent jurisdictions, the strength and attraction of the UPC as a competitive venue for European patent litigation will be depleted. A subsidiary issue is that, without the participation of the UK’s Patents Court judges, the attraction for litigants to use the UK’s local division to commence patent infringement actions would also be weakened (thus curtailing the positive benefit to UK’s economy). Such a state of affairs seems completely nonsensical given how hard the UK Government fought to secure a seat of the Central Division in London for exactly the same reasons (i.e., beneficial to the UK economy, key role in the stake and success of the UPC, etc etc etc).”

The UK ‘produces’ not that much other than services, and this includes software services. What kind of economic benefit/edge would the UK have if the UPC became a reality? Patent trolls are already starting to gather in London. Do we need even more of that? I, as a software professional, am growingly worried about these prospects.

The comments on Merpel’s post have mostly come from patent lawyers and attorneys, as one ought to expect given the blog’s audience. Some of the comments rightly point out issues. To quote some comments (copyright assigned to their posters):

Highly unlikely. Even if the UK is still around for the UPC and the UPC does in fact take off and this were to happen -unfortunately,the UK, France, Germany and Italy will be outnumbered by the non patent nations on the UPC. So you can start complaining now about the quality of the judgments to come like you do about the CJEU. In fact, the CJEU never pretended to be nor indeed was required to be a specialist court for patents but the criticism meted out to them about not getting it right whenever they dealt with the SPC Regulation was enormous -although on the other hand they always had a good stab at the Biotech Directive whenever they dealt with it.

As one comment put it:

If there’s a Brexit, game over.

Whilst I am not a Brexit proponent myself, many people are. We shall wait and see what happens. Another commenter says: “Given that the UK has (seemingly unlike almost all other countries ratifying the UPC Agreement) gone to the trouble to specifically create a national law applicable to EPUEs, it would be a terrible waste if there were no UPC judges who were qualified to interpret that law” (the remainder of this comment is added below).

If there are no UK judges in the UPC’s first intake, what will the UPC do about Articles 5(3) and 7(3) of Regulation 1257/2012, as applied to EPUEs filed by UK-based applicants?

That is, who will explain to the other judges how to interpret the national law of the UK that is “applied to European patents with unitary effect”?

Given that the UK has (seemingly unlike almost all other countries ratifying the UPC Agreement) gone to the trouble to specifically create a national law applicable to EPUEs, it would be a terrible waste if there were no UPC judges who were qualified to interpret that law.

Presumably, interpretation of the relevant national law is an issue upon which (due to Art. 5(3) of the UP Reg) questions could be referred to the CJEU. Could be interesting seeing how the CJEU handles that one!

Watch the enormous costs associated with it; one way or another these costs will be passed in the form of tax to a lot of Europeans, more so than to foreign corporations:

Its my understanding that the biggest problem is that a salary of EURO 11,000 per month is a deterrent. Very few in the UK seem to be interested in such a paltry remuneration, whereas in Germany they apparently already have over 1000 applicants!!

Some things are hard to believe:

1000 applicants from Germany? Twaddle as the application process hasn’t started yet (read the article).

Now the EPO is brought into it:

Will there be any full-time UK Patents Court judges in the UPC? Forget it, Judges. It’s the EPO. By the way pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Anon, anon was probably referring to this campaign:

https://www.unified-patent-court.org/news/preparatory-committee-launches-expression-interests-candidate-judges

Then comes up the problem associated with languages, which are already a problem at the EPO (we covered this before). To quote:

the key issue here is languages, what French or German language UK judges speak??? will them be able to take a case in German? or French? will a month or two in the Budapest training centre suffice for acquiring French and German language skills ?? the perfect candidates for these judge posts are members of the EPO Boards, however these people have a salary much higher than the 11.000 Euros net per month, so who will apply? I agree with some comments, above, the non Patent important UPC member states…
11.000 euros is half of the salary of an ECJ judge and 3 to 5 thousand euros less than an average member of the Boards of Appeal, who will leave aside its house, the children and the spouse job for this salary and for a non-permanent job of 6 years?.

It looks like representation would not be as diverse as people were led to believe:

Hire a couple of high profile patent judges from each of the main countries, and be sure they will fight for years trying to impose their own national practices and legal traditions in respect of hundreds of issues from the formal requirements to be met by a party´s request, to the admissibility of new arguments or the way orders should be formulated and decisions drafted. Less prominent candidates might be more prone to finding reasonable compromises.

And again a discussion about the waste of money:

Ah yes, but some have been preparing for this for some time (years in some cases)-sorting out their references,sending CVs to key persons, hobnobbing with civil servants from their MS,making sure they write articles on patents etc.

And don’t sniff at the 11,000 EUR tax free which does not include the massive list of benefits paid on top. For example, EU civil servants get an education allowance for their kids until age 26 (negotiated by the Germans over 50 years ago as German kids stay in higher education until then easily and so do British kids increasingly except there are increasingly no Brits left in the system and the Brits wanted to get rid of this).

How many people might even be qualified? Here is an educated guess:

At a conference in Strasbourg on the proposed UPC – memorable for having started the day that Icelandic volcano blew – the subject of judge’s qualifications for this role came up. It was estimated that the number of active judges who met the requirements was about – 20. Perhaps 50 at a push. Not official of course, but not very optimistic. And apparently not much improved upon since.

There is not much room at all for British judges anyway:

The numbers of judges initially required is probably relatively low. Given the number of proposed local divisions and allowing a bit of flexibility probably around 50 legally qualified judges are required almost all of whom would only be acting on a part time basis. However, if the response to the expressions of interest are representative, that is just as well since only 171 of those who expressed an interest had the qualifications and experience in patent litigation to be a legally qualified UPC judge without additional training.

At minimum, each local division will need at least one local judge, with the local divisions in UK, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands having two local judges. So there will necessarily be a spread of nationalities and at least 2 UK judges.

You would have to ask the existing UK patent judges whether or not they intend to apply but given the political capital that has been invested in the project, it is unlikely that the MOJ would prevent UK judges from serving on the court on a part-time basis.

Merpel’s post aside, we were rather disturbed to see a colleague from Bristows pushing the UPC in the same old fashion, first relaying UPC lobbying in a Microsoft-sponsored conference for patent maximalists who wish to influence policy (even Microsoft-funded lobbyists were there to promote software patents), then posts like this one and several others. “On a bleak Friday afternoon in London,” she wrote, “with the rain soaking into her paws and the wind messing with her perfectly coiffured fur coat, the AmeriKat was warmed by receiving an e-mail from Joan Scott of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) on one of her favorite topics – Supplementary Protection Certificates (SPCs). Prompted by her report of Margot Fröhlinger’s presentation on outstanding issues in the UPC at this year’s Fordham IP conference (see here), which included the need to iron out details on SPCs based on unitary patents…”

This Bristows (LLP/UPC) employee later wrote about Claire Phipps-Jones of Bristows LLP (notorious here for UPC promotion) and proceeded to some more of that. There is so much UPC promotion at IP Kat these days, usually courtesy of Bristows LLP staff. What is this, another corporate blog (for some contributors)? One way or another, EPO management must be happy. We are slowly led to believe that the UPC is almost here in the UK or is already here. This is far from the truth. Secrecy around UPC makes it hard to know exactly what’s happening (see this recent complaint about it). Like all sorts of so-called ‘trade’ agreements, it is a conspiracy of the rich and powerful against the rest. It’s usually large corporations and their lawyers and/or lobbyists.

“Unitary Patent Select Committee keeps meeting,” noted this one frequent critic (Francisco Moreno), “but transparency is not invited. Distribution key, anyone?”

Transparency for the UPC? They try to ensure that virtually nobody except UPC proponents even knows what this thing is about. Here is what Moreno wrote, having asked the EPO last year about the UPC [1, 2]: “An agreement has been reached but no details are provided: what is the % corresponding to each pMS? Or what is the formula that takes account of the GDP and the number of applications filed to fix the distribution key?”

Well, obviously, look who lobbies for the UPC and recall who benefits from it. Korenberg is quoted (paraphrased) as saying that “one rationale behind unitary patent court in Europe, decrease prohibitively costly enforcement for smaller companies,” but this is a lie. The UPC does exactly the opposite by exposing SMEs to more patent lawsuits and fees. It is in no way beneficial to the small firms, or even to European firms. It is also terrible for Spain [1, 2, 3] (Moreno should know this), so no wonder it opposes the UPC, in spite of lots of pressure, even economic blackmail. Conveniently enough, as some care to notice, UPC propaganda ‘forgets’ to mention that any SME which gets a patent faces lots of lawsuit threats from many more other companies. There are two sides to this coin and those who pocket all the coins are usually patent lawyers. According to this very recent update, citing a dubious report: “The 2016 annual report of the European Patent Office (EPO) pointed out that China maintains the most fast-growing European patent filer. With a patent filing number of 5,721 (22.2% increase compared to the data in 2014), China ranked the eighth among all the countries. The EPO stated that strong growth of the Chinese economy has become an important driving force in European patent development.”

So imagine how many patent lawsuits can come from China alone, never mind all those patent trolls from Texas.

The Bristows posts attracted comments too, just like the post from Merpel. Yet another response, in another thread, said that one should be “very uncomfortable with the EPO gaining control of the examination” while Battistelli is killing the Boards of Appeal and reduces quality of patents for the sake of superficial gains. Here is the comment in full:

use the EPO? Are you serious? That is one sure way of losing all of the collective knowledge of the national offices that has been gained over the last 20+ years regarding how to examine SPCs. How about we instead try to improve upon what already exists (e.g. by creating a virtual body), rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater?

Another thing – unless and until a way is found to improve the governance of the EPO (including ensuring full compliance with fundamental principles of employment legislation in the EU), I would be very uncomfortable with the EPO gaining control of the examination of yet another highly valuable IP right.

Here comes a criticism of the prospect of the UPC, citing immaturity factor:

Come on: back in 1978 the EPO had 0 experience with patent examination. Yet it could start and flourish because it hired experienced examiners from national offices, and because it built on the Institut International des Brevets in Rijswijk.
The same holds for the UPC: when it starts, it will have 0 experience itself. Yet, nobody needs to be afraid of silly judgments because the UPC judges will be drawn from experienced national courts.
So, no doubt that the EPO will do just fine if it were (t)asked to examine SPC applications.

Governance will be the big issue with any virtual office: it will need real governance structures. Especially when you consider appeals: any decision from the appeal body will have to be implemented by the first instance, so again real governance is needed to ensure that this indeed happens.
So, it is better to involve a real body rather than a virtual one.

The EUIPO is an EU organization, that is true, but it has no knowledge of patents and technical things. Would that really be a more preferable solution for handling SPCs?

The employment issues at the EPO do not prevent it from examining patent applications as usual. Also, the EPO Board of Appeal issues are irrelevant for unitary SPCs if SPC appeals are handled by the UPC rather than by the EPO Boards of Appeal,just like the UPC handled administrative unitary patent appeals.

The EPO, in the mean time, keeps pushing for the UPC, effectively lobbying for a corporate takeover of Europe over at Twitter. Battistelli is the lobbyist in chief and the UPC sets up a “webinar on the Unitary Patent”, later stating: “IPO EU trademark regulation entered into force last month. Hopefully #unitarypatent package will be next”

They are referring there to EUIPO and the picture becoming clearer. They’re putting things under a common umbrella (like a corporate takeover) and readers may already recall the relation between the EUIPO and EPO, as we covered it several times in recent weeks [1, 2, 3]. Going back to the comments we have:

I should add that there are already not enough experienced SPC examiners to go around, and so it would be a disaster if the EPO were to hire a significant number of them.

For various reasons, national SPCs will be with us for a long time yet (perhaps indefinitely). Thus, the national offices will continue to represent important venues (perhaps the most important venues) for SPC applicants. To eviscerate their examining capability would therefore be doing applicants a serious disservice.

The alternative (a virtual body) would make the best of what already exists, whilst allowing national offices to retain their skilled staff. What’s not to like about that?

Anon, you argue that “The employment issues at the EPO do not prevent it from examining patent applications as usual”. However, handing responsibility for uSPCs over to the EPO at present would be akin to rewarding a problem child for appalling behaviour.

The discussion about SPC continues here:

This virtual body looks silly. Why not a real body like the EPO, with any appeals being handled by the UPC, but just like appeals against EPO decisions in unitary patent matters.

A basis in the EPC for doing so can easily be found, see Articles 63(4), 143 and 149a(1) EPC. Note that in Article 149a(1) EPC, whatever follows “such as” is non-limiting and can be skipped.

As regards fees and costs, the EPO should get its costs reimbursed, following the principles of Art. 146 EPC. For the remainder, the fee income can be distributed by the EPO among the participating states in the same way as their share in the unitary patent income.

As regards the law to be applied, changing the present SPC regulations will just result in long delays. So, it is better to accept the preset SPC regulations, and to look for any improvements later on.

The above could easily be handled in a relative small amendment of the unitary patent regulation 1257/2012, as it is a logical consequence of the decision to allow a subgroup of EU states to cooperate in unitary patent matters. Doing so would automatically result in jurisdiction for the UPC to handle appeals under Article 32(1)(i) UPC Agreement.

Just like with unitary patents, the new SPC provisions in the unitary patent regulation would be supplemented by decisions of the Select Committee.

And below that:

As an EU organisation, the EUIPO would appear to be better suited to the task than the EPO. One wonders why they were not chosen to handle the unitary patent registration procedure.

A cynic might suggest, based on the above, that Battistelli’s goal is to demolish the EPO in favour of the UPC (in whatever form it takes), then become the UPC’s head, get close to EUIPO, and maybe form or shift name to make up an umbrella organisation that’s EU-sanctioned (unlike the EPO that dates back to the EPC). Is this vision of the UPC starting by taking boards (of appeal, not Board 28) out of their job, then automating the job of examination with algorithms that do a shoddy job at examination, as we noted earlier today? Whatever it is, this is not looking good and secrecy creates more suspicion. To quote further comments:

An alternative would be to allow an applicant to request an SPC before any patent office of an EU state with this then extending to the EU as a whole in the same way that a national court can act as an EU court in design matters.

you have clearly failed to grasp the perils of throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to experience in examining SPCs. Starting at ground zero with the EPO really would be a disaster for applicants – especially given the complexity of the (case) law.

Your perspective is so pro-EPO, can you please confirm whether you are on BB’s payroll before commenting again? As you may guess, I can confirm that I am not.

Notice the corrupting impact of the EPO paying vast amounts of money to a PR firm. Many people are often presumed to be on Battistelli’s payroll.

Speaking for myself (personally), I have been rather disappointed with IP Kat‘s coverage about the EPO as of late. There’s omission of so many important stories and developments. When was the last time IP Kat and notably Merpel even touched the EPO scandals? Maybe Battistelli got his way after he threatened some bloggers. They’re silent on it all. Several months ago I confronted IP Kat over its deletion of (refusal to approve) comments about the EPO, after people had reported this to me.

There is more UPC promotion in IP Kat these days than there is a mention of Battistelli and his latest scandals. And look who’s behind all the UPC promotion. It’s usually the Bristows staff. Where does UPC promotion come from? Those who would gain from UPC. Now that the UK is under a de facto coup (from EPO management, patent lawyers, and other opportunistic profiteers) we need the voice of opposition to at least be aired somewhere and that somewhere is not IP Kat.

It has become increasingly clear over time that not only is the UPC orthogonal to the interests of European citizens but one should also regard it as an active danger to anyone including those who work for the EPO as patent examiners. As for patent lawyers, the benefits of the UPC may depend on the kind of clients they have. But whether the clients are large or small, and whether they use patents offensively or defensively, the legal fees are still unavoidable, thus for a lawyer it is important to have as much patent confrontation as possible. This, except patent applications (sought in an aggressive/defensive atmosphere), is what ‘brings home the bacon’, so to speak. If the UPC causes more legal uncertainty and makes it more affordable to go to court even on a tight budget, then it means more legal action overall, hence more business to patent lawyers.

European Patent Office Deemphasising Quality and Looking to Replace the Key Workers

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What is a patent office if not a collection of competent patent examiners? Battistelli is trying to break a mechanism that’s already working, presumably for corporate gains or increased profit/reduced salaries (the École nationale d’administration mindset)

EPO Frame Breaking
Context: “The Luddite movement emerged during the harsh economic climate of the Napoleonic Wars”

Summary: The unscientific approach of today’s management of the EPO and the dangers of outsourcing EPO jobs to other entities or even to highly flawed algorithms

BATTISTELLI has done a fine job driving away some of the Office’s best talent and his job is not done yet, despite the ongoing brain drain [1, 2, 3, 4] which seems unstoppable. Patent examiners are the very heart of any patent office; without them it’s just a bunch of clueless bureaucrats like Battistelli and their secretaries. How could they overlook this simple fact? According to this new report from MIP, “Michael Fröhlich has joined the European Patent Office as head of the Directorate European and International Legal Affairs” (not to be confused with Herbert Fröhlich, who was actually a legendary scientist). It often seems like all the EPO strives to be right now is a bunch of people in suits with a high-budget peripheral PR agency in the US (far more people there, based on the budget, than in the in-house PR department). We had enormous respect for the EPO back in the days, but what has it become and what is it still becoming?

Based on this new comment, “EPO examiners and BoA members have no concept of what a thorough analysis is like. How could they? Unless you have experienced the rigour of a multi-million euro invalidity or infringement suit, you probably think that the EPO procedure is pretty nifty.”

That’s somewhat of an unfair comment, but then again consider limitations on time, which got a lot worse under Battistelli because of policy changes that favour large corporations. Here is the comment in full:

The EPO has a unique position in juridical terms. It is just an administrative body tasked with taking administrative decisions – but with no judicial oversight. This wouldn’t be tolerated in any other branch of public administration I can think of, and it surprises me that the member states continue to connive in maintaining the conceit of a fair and thorough patent granting system.

Because it isn’t fair, and it certainly isn’t thorough.

It’s not fair, because the process can result in applicants being denied a patent which would be upheld as valid in a court of law. There is no mechanism for detecting, let alone righting, such injustices.

And it’s certainly not thorough. Most EPO examiners and BoA members have no concept of what a thorough analysis is like. How could they? Unless you have experienced the rigour of a multi-million euro invalidity or infringement suit, you probably think that the EPO procedure is pretty nifty. It isn’t. At best, it’s a good first approximation, but not more than that.

A response from a lawyer or attorney, taking or borrowing the term “thorough analysis”, said:

Are your comments based on a thorough analysis?
My experience (and the generally taken view) is rather that on average the analysis of BoA is more accurate and consistent than what you may get from national courts.
Of course there are exceptions such as your multimillion infringement suit (I am not sure as to what you mean as multimillion invalidity).
I sincerely hope that the UPC will reach the same standards as the BoA

We previously showed how the BoA swatted a software patent. This was a job well done and it involved a thorough analysis. It’s not fair to nitpick or generalise, making the examiners or judges seem as though they should bear responsibility for failures which go all the way up to the top. Overworked examiners surely cannot function and to expect output to improve this way would be unrealistic. A long response then said:

Ah! So that’s your point, Demut. A lack of symmetry. If the Technical Board of Appeal finds your issued patent (or patent application pending at the EPO) devoid of merit, you die without recourse to a Supreme Court of a contracting EPC State. Whereas, if you don’t get wiped out by DG3, you can go on asserting your rights all the way to the Supreme Court in each of 38 EPC Member States.

Perhaps not coincidentally, we see currently a huge ruckus about whether the USPTO can revoke patents it already issued. Does that lie heavy on your mind too?

But GATT-TRIPS promises a judicial review of an administrative decision and that’s what you get at the EPO. If you don’t like it, you can shun the EPO and file your patent application country by country.

I fully understand the grief of a patent practitioner who thought that the claim he drafted was good enough for the BGH and is outraged when DG3 revokes his client’s patent and the client demands to know why he is left empty-handed and deeply out of pocket. But that’s because the BGH chooses to paddle its own canoe up a different creek from the one defined by the established case law of the Boards of Appeal, which every other Member State finds persuasive.

Or are you from England, and outraged that the EPO does obviousness differently than in England?

Childishly crying “It isn’t fair” though, that doesn’t cut the mustard, sorry.

I’m curious though, what justifies your assertion that at the EPO thoroughness is lacking. I presume you hanker after full discovery, like the USA still does but which has been done away with in patent litigation in England. Of course, adversarial English legal procedure is big on cross-examination of witness evidence. If you were to argue that fact-finding is more rigorous under English law than under the civil law procedures used everywhere in the world, I would agree with you. But please don’t write off the EPO as “not thorough” because it does fact-finding like everywhere else in the world except the English common law countries. If there is any thoroughness lacking at the EPO, it is amongst the profession of representatives, who prepare their cases as if for a home fixture, in line with their particular domestic jurisdiction, and not thoroughly enough in line with an away fixture with the Rules of the Game as practised on the turf in Munich. The judges can only play what’s put on the table for them to consider.

I am reminded of the excuse every politician offers when losing an election: A communication failure, it was. We were not quite imaginative and creative enough, to get our winning message across to the voters.

But reply, do. What do you mean by “not thorough enough”? Are those guys in DG3 just not reading your stuff thoroughly enough for your liking?

There’s a bit of a withdrawal at this stage:

I apologize, I thought that your point was about the quality of the BoA decisions.

Now that I understood you better it seems that the difference is that I consider the BoA as a court and you don´t.
If however you take my position the system is lopsided as any other national system. Also there, once you get a refusal and go through all the available court levels, the final decision can be challenged in case of a positive decision in nullity proceedings but cannot be further challenged in case of a negative decision.

Or maybe the point is that in the EPC the number of available instances is rather reduced, because the BoA are already the final one. But I am not sure whether the users would like a different situation.

The picking on DG3 and the BoA carries on, with comments such as these:

The commentator eine gewisse Demut has an axe to grind, and would do well to confer with members of national judiciaries who have served on the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal. Sir Robin Jacob, for example. For him, there is no doubt that the necessary GATT-TRIPS-compliant judicial supervisory function for the administrative work of the EPO is delivered by DG3.

…on average the analysis of BoA is more accurate and consistent than what you may get from national courts

True, but this is not the point I was making. The point is that the system is lopsided. The owner of a granted patent has full access to the legal process, while the owner of a refused application has none. Nobody can tell you how big this lopsidedness is, because there is no way of measuring it. It’s just an inherent feature of the EPC.

…would do well to confer with members of national judiciaries who have served on the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal. Sir Robin Jacob, for example.

The quality of DG3 decisions is again not the point. The point is that their positive decisions are regularly tested in court, whereas their negative decisions are not. Incidentally, Sir Robin Jacob has written and spoken often about the lopsidedness problem.

Finally, as one person points out:

The quality of BoA decisions is probably the best that’s possible under the circumstances.

You’re right. The number of instances is reduced by at least two in the case of a negative BoA decision.

As regular readers ought to know, Battistelli crushes them now. He’s on some kind of war against the boards of appeal, despite them being the last sort of independent resort. They did, several years back, even took on the question of software patentability.

Speaking of software, guess what the EPO under Battistelli may be planning to do. Inevitably, as the Office is run by a clueless non-technical President, there’s some delusional thinking along the lines of replacing examiners with machines! You can’t make this stuff up! the whole point of having patent examiners is to have a manual operator(s) dealing with tasks that cannot be automated, require human interaction, literature surveys, and so forth. Here is how someone put it not too long ago:

The automatic examiner

In his last conference in The Hague, Mr Battistelli explained that in the future, examiners would get more support from their computer. Could it be that the Office is in the process of automating searches? In the age of Google, it is natural that our management is asking the question of automation. Computerised searches used to be the domain of a few selected database specialists, but nowadays everyone who types a few words into a search engine expects to find the relevant documents. It would thus appear that typing a few keywords into an artificial intelligence system should be sufficient to find all the “X” documents in a patent search. Or, even better, if one would directly feed the application in that system, it would extract the keywords, classify the application and spit out the “X” documents. Is that likely to work? Unfortunately, the answer is probably “no”. First, this is not at all what Google does. Google appears to use keywords but is a very different system internally: Google actually indexes the relationships between documents. To speak in examiners’s jargon, Google is more similar to ..combi than to ..xfull. The reason is simple: the creators of Google quickly realised that a pure keyword search does not work very well. Could we then imitate Google and use an automatic system that is similar? Unfortunately, again the answer is probably “no”. We already have automatic tools (like ..combi) using links between documents, but part of the problem is that new documents do not have links. Google has the same problem with new pages, which are very slow to enter their system. It is not clear how a patent office – that primarily deals with new documents – could overcome this problem.

Patent offices have a further specific problem: our users are not necessarily honest – if they all were, we would not need an examination system. In fact, Google and patent offices have exactly opposite problems: whereas Google advertisers want their pages to be found, some patent applicants may want to hide their application from their competitors. The “page rank” of Google is a valuable commodity. Top pages will be clicked more often than the bottom ones and clicks directly translate to sales. This is a real problem for Google, as some users try to play the system e.g. with “link farms”: collections of senseless pages designed to generate more links. Patent applicants (at least some of them) may not want their applications to be found. They also may not want us to find relevant documents. Some applicants try to obfuscate their application by avoiding keywords customary in the field. In such a situation the computer will fail to find relevant keywords and hence fail to find the relevant prior art. And this is presuming that the invention can be described in keywords, which is not necessarily the case either. Often the relevant information is in the drawings or in the arrangement of the features. For a human examiner all this is not a major problem. From an obfuscated application, he (or she) can still extract the information and knows how to rewrite the content in common keywords. A skilled examiner can extract the relevant information from drawings, tables, lists etc. He knows what is custom practice in his field, at what time in history and how various technologies developed. And he knows what documents he can find at which place in the classification.

Google is a commercial giant. It puts in a lot of effort in its search engines. For this it employs the world’s best IT experts. The effort comes at considerable cost. Unless the EPO thinks it can do better than Google, it may be wiser to rely on human examiners to design its patent searches rather than on IT experts.

Battistelli’s love for commercial giants has turned into an abhorrent, corrupt mess. Not only does he treat them favourably as applicants (UPC in its own right is beneficial to them) but he also gives them massive contracts without any transparency or as much as a public tender. Patent examiners aren’t Luddites and boards or appeal aren’t replaceable by some ludicrous, impractical system like that envisioned by UPC proponents.

If Battistelli stays in power for another year or two, nothing of value will be left at the EPO. He and his management team (many of whom are under-qualified buddies of his) ruin the Office and the misguided policies permeate and spread everywhere, even spilling to the outside (e.g. the boards).

Software Patents Decreasingly a Threat in the United States, But IBM and Microsoft Lobby for a Rebound

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 8:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Kappos as lobbyist
Source: David Kappos interview with Intellectual Property Magazine (2010), modified by us

Summary: Software patents are not as scary as they used to be (because many are effectively found to be of no value, or ruled invalid by US courts), but patent aggressors including IBM and Microsoft work towards a software patents comeback, aided by well-connected officials such as David Kappos (above)

THE reality behind software patents in the United States (or patent policy in general) isn’t just shaped by the USPTO, which grants patents too sparingly, but also by the courts, which increasingly demonstrate that the USPTO isn't doing its job (which should be examination and thus elimination of weak applications).

“Judging by the Bilski case, it might take another decade before Alice is shaken at all (if at all).”According to this new examination of upcoming SCOTUS cases, there is no imminent challenge to Alice. Judging by the Bilski case, it might take another decade before Alice is shaken at all (if at all). “Following its April 15 Conference,” wrote Patently-O, “the Supreme Court denied certiorari in a set of cases, including Vermont v. MPHJ; Limelight v. Akamai; Hemopet v. Hill’s Pet Nutrition; and Tas v. Beachy. In its April 1 Conference, the Court denied cert in Retirement Capital v. US Bancorp. That case had questioned whether subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 is a ground specified as a condition for patentability under 35 U.S.C. § 282(b)(2).”

It seems like very good news, unless you’re some patent lawyer or patent aggressor such IBM or Microsoft (they both pay the former Director of the USPTO to discredit SCOTUS rulings and restore the fangs of software patents by altering § 101). Over in Texas (capital of patent trolls, see yesterday's article to that effect) the press now bemoans Alice, i.e. the death of many software patents in the United States. The article was composed by patent lawyers (surprise surprise!) and it says:

Yes, we’re being a bit dramatic here but Alice has been killing patents, and especially software patents, at an impressive clip. In this case, Alice refers to the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court opinion Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. In that opinion, the Court announced a new two-step process to determine whether an idea is patentable and, ever since, this two-step process has been applied by courts and the Patent Office to disallow patents at an unprecedented rate. Law360 calculated that courts are granting around 70 percent of Alice motions. In raw numbers, there were more patents killed in the 14 months after Alice than in the five years before it.

It all sounds like good news, unless one is a greedy patent lawyer, especially from a place like Texas. Decline in proactive activity which invalidates software patents in the US has just been reported by MIP. To quote: “A total of 118 petitions were filed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) in March, down from 150 in February but up on the 99 in January. In contrast, 145 petitions were filed in March 2015.”

“It all sounds like good news, unless one is a greedy patent lawyer, especially from a place like Texas.”Perhaps — and we are only guessing here — after Alice-led challenges (which ultimately killed patents at the knock of a gavel) more companies realise that software patents would not survive the courts anyway. It means that there’s less incentive to sue at all. Suing can lead to loss of patents. As MIP put it in another article, “Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) petition filing in the first three months of 2016 fell to its lowest quarterly figure for two years.”

What matters, however, is rate/ratio of invalidation.

So less than two years after PTAB’s formation it seems to have become less necessary because the core issue, which is patent scope (or quality), is being addressed/tackled by Alice.

FOSS Force, a site which deals with Free/Open Source software (FOSS) matters, has just run a poll about software patents and here is what it came up with (see charts in page). To quote the author: “In recent years software patents haven’t been nearly as much in the news as they once were. This is partly due to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Alice Corp. vs. CLS Bank which took a slew of patents off the table. Also, thanks to the efforts of companies such as Newegg to duke it out in court instead of rolling over and settling, many patents that had been successfully leveraged by the trolls for years have been invalidated.”

“Both are aggressive patent predators amid layoffs which threaten their very monopolistic existence.”It sure seems like things are improving in the US, but don’t take that for granted. Companies like IBM and Microsoft (or more recently Apple) hire lobbyists in an effort to restore the old state of affairs, enabling more patent extortion against small companies. Recall what Microsoft is still doing against FOSS distributors (using patents on software for coercion and taxation) and then consider IBM's controversial joining. Both are aggressive patent predators amid layoffs which threaten their very monopolistic existence.

As we noted here some days ago, having maliciously destroyed Yahoo, Microsoft might now go after Yahoo’s patents, which MIP says aren’t that expensive anyway. To quote: “It identified 2,000 US patents currently assigned to Yahoo that are active and in-force. Yahoo’s 2015 10-K reveals the company reported almost $300 million in gains related to patent sales between 2013 and 2015.”

As for IBM, there’s some new patent propaganda (just published for IBM marketing), femmewashing its patents and wrongly equating them with “invention”.

Munich State Attorney is Pursuing Criminal Charges Against the European Patent Office

Posted in Deception, Europe, Law, Patents at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Weapons of mass distraction

EPO cricket club

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) keeps rotting under Battistelli’s leadership and the campaign of defamation against truth-tellers (shooting the messengers) within the Office/Organisation is made more apparent

THREE days ago we became aware of lawsuits against the EPO. We actually knew about this for longer than that, but it took a while to get a translation of an article which covered it (with quotes directly from those involved). It actually turned out to be bigger than we had imagined.

SUEPO has translated [PDF] this recent article from the German media and also highlighted this new article in French. This is about “France’s patent&™ office complaining about EPO’s delays,” Hugo Roy from the FSFE told me. There have been complaints from British stakeholders as well, regarding not just delays but also miscommunication and unprofessional handling of applications. Brain drain [1, 2, 3, 4] taking its toll? We wrote about this last week in the context of Patent Administration staff.

Anyway, the latest interesting article says it all really, and we have highlighted the important bits below.

Handelsblatt

Criminal charges at the Patent Office Uprising in Paradise getting worse

By: Jan Keuchel
Date: 06.04.2016 10:57

Still no ceasefire: The European Patent Office won’t calm down. Management and staff are sniping at each other, and the Munich State Attorney is pursuing criminal charges – a lot of them.

Battistelli in AFP
Benoît Battistelli
Dispute with the staff getting even worse.
(Photo: AFP)

Düsseldorf. The European Patent Office (EPO), one of the most important starting points for the protection of inventions, has been tearing itself apart for months in a bitter dispute between the President and sections of the staff. At issue are new promotional and sick leave arrangements, union rights, internal investigations, and sackings.

On 15 March, one day before an important meeting of his Administrative Council, President Benoît Battistelli suddenly started sending out peace signals. According to the Frenchman, 2016 will see a “general review of social rules and regulations”.

In the light of rumours that the Council might dismiss him from office due to the conflict, his overseers may have forced Battistelli’s hand. But only under certain conditions: The squabblers would have to get together and “conscientiously and honestly work towards finding a solution”.

But now things start to become clearer: The much heralded peace turns out to be nothing more than a ceasefire. According to information available to Handelsblatt, the conflict at the EPO has actually involved the Munich I State Attorney’s office since as far back as 2013, and there are still a good number of unresolved criminal cases being pursued.

[Photo]
EPO boss Benoît Battistelli
“Bullying and defamation causing massive disruption”

Benoît Battistelli is the boss of a public authority that is actually one of the most important for the entire European economy: The Patent Office. Critics call him the “Sun King” or “Stalin”. In an interview he speaks for the first time about the accusations made against him. More …

The first of the charges was laid by Battistelli’s Vice-President, and was aimed at a person or persons unknown. The main issue was an accusation of slander and defamation, as Munich I State Attorney’s office confirmed when asked. The charge evidently related to the issues surrounding an Irish patent judge, whom Battistelli had suspended.

At the end of 2015 the Irishman himself then laid charges against Battistelli, on the grounds that his honour has been besmirched. There have been more criminal accusations made against unknown persons, among them by the sacked union executive Elizabeth Hardon. All those involved deny the accusations.

The EPO has been conducting internal investigations against the judge and Hardon since 2013. The Office suspected both of them of having waged a campaign against the President and his deputy.

According to an internal report, among other things, the judge was found to have defamatory letters in his possession. The EPO investigators also found in his office a number of clubs and suspected Nazi material, such as brochure bearing a swastika and entitled “Ich kämpfe”.

Since then, the man concerned has stayed at home. Battistelli later also dismissed Hardon, the chief executive of the staff union Suepo, which he does not recognize. The accusation against her was of threatening non-union members.

Innovation-friendly Europe Development of patent applications

165 000 160 022
152 500
140 000
2011 2015

Applications received in 2015 by sectors

Medical technology 12 474
Digital communications 10 762
Computer technology 10 549
Electrical engineering/mechanical engineering/energy: 10 198
Transport 7802

Handelsblatt Source: EPO

The attorney acting for both of them, Munich-based labour lawyer Senay Okyay, disputes the accusations, contending, among other things, that the clubs which the Irishman had were for gymnastic exercises. The grounds for the criminal charges laid by her client were the wrongful and defamatory accusations that he was a Nazi.

As well as all this, an application for criminal charges has also been made against persons unknown due to the EPO investigation report having allegedly been leaked to various media. “The group of persons entitled to receive this strictly confidential report is restricted to my client, the Administrative Council, and the President of the Office”, says Okyay. Hardon has also sought to lay criminal charges against unknown persons due to her private E-mail account having allegedly been searched in the course of the investigations.

The EPO is unwilling to comment on the charges brought by the Vice-President. With regard to the judge, the word is that they became aware of this after Easter. The State Attorney’s office will know how to deal with such things.

The State Attorney’s office is emphasising that at present all the accusations are being looked into, and no further information can be forthcoming.

[Photo]
Squabbles at the European Patent Office
Uprising in Paradise

Allegations of death threats, a judge with clubs in his office: The European Patent Office is being crippled by internal brawls. The Office is already overdue with thousands of cases, and that is something the economy simply cannot afford. More…

Whatever the outcome, the criminal charges have been stirring things up even more with regard to the issues of social peace at the Office. One particular issue is what the Administrative Council knew about these events when it accepted Battistelli’s peace offering on 16 March.

At the EPO the word is that the Administrative Council has been kept “regularly informed of all relevant events”. The Chair of the Council, Jesper Kongstad, has no comment to make. Perhaps he’s saving his voice. The next Council meeting is in June.

The above contains plenty of new information. It also serves to reinforce the claim that Battistelli (which is referred to above as “Stalin”) has been witch-hunting staff, including (in particular) those who said the truth about Željko Topić (staff calls him “Putin”), about whom we have an ongoing series of articles this week.

As a side note, we no longer make local copies of SUEPO PDFs, but when the EPO management actively censored SUEPO’s Web site (using legal threats) the management basically encouraged us to do so, which meant that things management found embarrassing ended up spreading further and wider. It’s the Streisand Effect. The harder the EPO tries to silence the truth, the worse things will get.

EPO Integrity on the Line: The Story of Željko Topić’s Controversial Diploma – Part II

Posted in Deception, Europe at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Croatian media coverage about some of the scandals as they were seen 4 years ago (around the time Battistelli snatched Topić out of Croatia to become his right-hand man)

IN part one of this series we looked at how EPO Vice-President Željko Topić got accused of forgery. We are not suggesting that it was indeed forgery; we are just presenting what is/was known and who says/said what.

“We are not suggesting that it was indeed forgery; we are just presenting what is/was known and who says/said what.”“These matters were reported in the Croatian press at the time,” told us a person who is responsible for translating some reports, or for putting together some translations. “See for example the article dated 26 April 2012 which was written by the journalist Ilko Ćimić and published in Index.hr.”

Original Croatian text can be found here and below is the English translation with highlights in yellow:

Index reveals – Jovanović investigates the SIPO: Where did the million kuna go? Who was driving the (overly) expensive cars?

Željko Jovanović
Željko Jovanović, Minister of Science

Author: I. Ćimić
Date: 26 April 2012

Index is in a position to reveal that Željko Jovanović, the Minister of Science, Education and Sports, recently sent a request to the Ministry of Finance for a budgetary audit of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), for the period from 1 March 2008 to 22 December 2012 in order to look into a series of allegations about the actions of the controversial SIPO Director, Mr. Željko Topić. The Ministry of Science also found a number of irregularities during their investigation of SIPO’s operations and has requested the assistance of the State Inspectorate and the Labour Inspection! While the Ministry was in the process of investigating the actions of the controversial Director against whom criminal proceedings are pending before the Zagreb County Court, SIPO officially announced that he was stepping down from the position of SIPO Director to take up the position of Vice-President at the European Patent Office based in Munich!

SIPO was responsible for the oversight of ZAMP

For the moment, the question seems to be how much the European institutions really know about Mr. Topić’s track-record as SIPO Director and whether or not they were informed of the charges pending against him. It would also be interesting to know to what extent the credit for his appointment can be attributed to Croatian diplomatic lobbying conducted by the Pantovčak [i.e. the Office of the Croatian President].

We wish to remind our readers that the SIPO is the official institution responsible for the oversight of the Croatian Composers’ Society and its professional service ZAMP. However, it was recently established during the handover to the new government that for years nobody has properly supervised the operations of the SIPO itself. The role of the Director Topić is of key importance here because it was he who responded to a query from the Ministry of Finance as to whether the business operations of ZAMP were actually carried out by a private company Emporion. At the time, Topić claimed that everything was done in accordance with the law.

The Ministry will specifically check the diploma of Director Topić

According to a document in the possession of Index – which can be seen in the picture gallery – Jovanovic’s Ministry carried out its own investigation into the work of SIPO to follow up on some of the allegations against the controversial Director.

The document itself does not contain any spectacular revelations, but it raises a number of questions about Topić’s management of the SIPO as it shows how assistance is being sought from other government agencies such as the State Inspectorate to shed light on Željko Topić’s controversial reign as SIPO Director.

Amongst other things, Mr. Jovanović’s Ministry questioned whether Topić had the educational qualifications needed to lead the SIPO. It was established that the Office which deals with the protection of industrial property and copyright and related rights is managed by an economist who claims to have graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Banja Luka with a master’s degree. Topić sent to the Ministry only a copy of his master’s diploma without the date of issue, and such evidence was considered insufficient so the Ministry requested the Faculty in Banja Luka to kindly send “relevant documents and a statement regarding the academic qualifications of Master of Science, Mr. Željko Topić”.

Disputed payments of around HRK 1m for “unnecessary” work

The Ministry also investigated allegations concerning the expenditure of around one million kuna, which the SIPO paid for intellectual and personal services. It was discovered that some of the money was paid as compensation for participation in organizing professional examinations for authorized representatives in the field of industrial property rights. The problem is that the candidates only paid 4,000 kuna in fees for these professional examinations whereas the total gross compensation paid to the chairman, deputy secretaries and members of the examination committee exceeded the amount that was paid by the candidates.

Another part of the disputed expenditure was on payments for service and copyright contracts which appear not to have been in accordance with the regulations. According to the opinion of Jovanović’s Ministry, the amounts paid for translations are also controversial given that this work should have been performed by SIPO employees [as part of their regular duties].

Sanader approved the purchase of the cars

The Ministry has also found a series of errors in service contracts and has requested special supervision by the State Inspectorate and Inspectors from the Ministry of Labour.
Concerning the controversial purchase of vehicles, including an Audi A6 TDI Quattro Tiptronic B worth 80,000 EUR and a Mercedes E 280 CDI worth 70,000 EUR, which was also subject to investigation by the Ministry, it was established that Topić had the permission of the Government, headed by Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, for the disputed purchase of these vehicles.

Ivo Sanader is now in prison and the local press habitually calls Topić "Sanader's protégé", which helps Topić’s case not at all.

“The reporting in the Croatian press seems to have annoyed Mr. Topić,” we got told, “who had in the meantime been appointed as a Vice-President at the EPO and had moved to Munich.”

In future parts we are going to step deeper into this affair and also cover Topić’s and the EPO’s response.

Links 19/4/2016: Kali Linux Rolling Release, PCLOS Reviewed

Posted in News Roundup at 5:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why the Internet of Things needs open source

    It should come as no surprise to you that the Internet of Things already depends upon open source. Many IoT devices run one form of embedded Linux or another. In fact, without Linux many IoT devices simply wouldn’t exist. What should come as a surprise to you is when companies that produce these IoT devices close up shop, they leave those devices out in the wild to die. Perfectly good hardware no longer capable of functioning…even when open source is at the heart of the device.

    This needs to change.

  • CUBA Platform is Going Open Source

    The long-awaited moment has come, and now we are happy to announce that the CUBA Platform has finally joined the free software community! From now on, the runtime part of the platform is open source and distributed under the Apache 2.0 license. This means that you will be able to create and distribute your applications for free! So, go ahead and start your CUBA application right now!

  • Events

    • Device Tree Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Device-tree discussions are probably not quite as spirited as in the past, however, device tree is an active area. In particular, significant issues remain.

    • OpenSchool 2016 in Brno

      Last week Red Hat Czech has for the first time hoster a very special event. We’ve called it OpenSchool and the purpose of the event was to explain to high school students trends in IT, trends in software development as well as why should they care about opensource. It was fairly tough for us to figure out the level of knowledge that these kids between 12-16 years of age know about IT now. Sure they use smart phones daily, are on most of social networks and intuitively use tons of different applications – but do they know how their favorite apps are developed and what powers their daily used social network in the back?

    • Event report: rootconf 2016

      Rootconf is the largest DevOps, and Cloud infrastructure related conference in India. This year’s event happened on 14-15th April in the MLR convention center, Bangalore. I traveled on the day one of the event from Pune. Woke up by 3AM in the morning, and then took the first flight to Bangalore. Picked up Ramky on my way to the venue. Managed to skip most of the (in)famous Bangalore traffic thanks to a govt holiday.

    • The night I became a hacker

      You may ask yourself, how does one become a hacker?

    • Announcing systemd.conf 2016

      After our successful first conference 2015 we’d like to repeat the event in 2016 for the second time. The conference will take place on September 28th until October 1st, 2016 at betahaus in Berlin, Germany. The event is a few days before LinuxCon Europe, which also is located in Berlin this year. This year, the conference will consist of two days of presentations, a one-day hackfest and one day of hands-on training sessions.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Some Of What You Can Find On Mozilla’s Servo Roadmap

        Besides planning for the Servo and Browser.html initial release this summer there are a lot of other exciting items on the roadmap for developers working on Mozilla’s Servo next-generation engine written in Rust.

        Among the hopes for Servo in 2016 are more performance improvements, continue advancing the browser front-end (such as the current browser.html effort), fill in remaining subsystem implementations, bringing the Windows port up to scratch, moving WebRender into production quality, and begin shipping Rust/Servo components gradually within the Gecko engine. Among the performance items on the agenda for Servo this year is CSS support on the GPU, SIMD layouts, DOM wrapper fusion, and more.

      • This Week In Servo 60
  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Richard Stallman Talks GNU, Linux, Terrorism and French Politics

      What is Richard Stallman, the father of free software (if not open source) like in person? And what is he thinking now about Linux, terrorism and French politics? I gained some insight recently when the founder of the GNU operating system spoke near Paris.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Study: Govt should nurture open source sector

      Governments that want to increase the use of open source software by public administrations should encourage the growth of an open source service sector, recommends Maha Shaikh, researcher at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick (UK). Public administrations should share their open source expert consultants.

    • OSI’s Comments to the White House Office of Management and Budget Regarding the “Federal Source Code Policy”

      Governments around the globe recognize the value of open source as both a technology solution delivering value to the public they serve, as well as an approach for development returning tax-payer investments back to the society they represent. The implementation of the Federal Source Code Policy will be a key component in “reducing Federal vendor lock-in, decreasing duplicative costs for the same code, increasing transparency across the Federal Government, and minimizing the challenges associated with integrating large blocks of code from multiple sources” (Line 30, Federal Source Code Policy).

    • Munich publishes interim report on IT performance

      The city of Munich (Germany) has published the first part of a report on improving the city’s IT performance. The report by Accenture, a consultancy, suggests that the city uses a great many software applications, making its IT too complex.

    • Munich, Revisited

      News of the death of GNU/Linux in Munich’s local government is exaggerated, apparently. A thorough review of the global IT-system finds nothing to report. What it does find is that Munich is still using too many applications even after pruning them back severely in the migration to GNU/Linux.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Open Source: Licensing Pitfalls May Outweigh Benefits [Ed: certainly another attack on using common talking points]

      A common provision of such licenses, however, is that any software that derives from the open-source software must also be made publically available under the same copyleft provisions. Some of these licenses can be incompatible with one another, so that by combining code blocks with different licenses a developer would create a situation where conforming to one license violates the terms of the other license. Some licenses may conflict with a businesses’ objectives by forbidding commercialization of derivative products. And some licenses, Leach noted, are “viral” in nature in that not only is the specific software built on the open-source component to be made open source under the license, so is all other integrated software that becomes part of the product. Further, such a viral license not only “infects” the developing company’s proprietary product software, forcing it to be open source, the license can force application software created by the product’s user to also become open source under the viral license.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • This open source tool will help you use your mind to control DIY projects

      Move over pressing buttons with hands. You can now use your mind to control smartphones, robots, and even your friends’ limbs with OpenBCI, an open-source brain-computer interface.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • RuuviTag, an open-source Bluetooth Sensor Beacon, heading to KickStarter

        RuuviTag is a low power, compact Bluetooth beacon solution that can monitor its surroundings in various ways, that can be implemented to other devices and projects due to its open development.

        Aside from being just a standard proximity beacon, it can also monitor temperature, humidity, air pressure and acceleration, and can be easily adjusted to cover different kinds of needs without programming or electronic knowledge. The device can operate for several years on a single coin battery.

  • Programming/Development

    • 5 more timeless lessons of programming ‘graybeards’

      The HR departments and hiring managers in Silicon Valley have a challenge. They can’t ask an applicant’s age because their companies have lost brutal discrimination lawsuits over the years. Instead, they develop little tricks like tossing in an oblique reference to “The Brady Bunch” (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”) and seeing if the candidate gets the joke. Candidates who chuckle are deemed a poor cultural fit and are tossed aside.

    • Node.js Foundation 2016 User Survey Report

      The Node.js Foundation recently conducted an expansive user survey to better understand Node.js users (you, or maybe you :). We were interested in getting a better sense of the type of development work you use Node.js for, what other technologies you use with Node.js, how the Node.js Foundation can help you get more out of Node.js, how you learn new languages, and more.

    • Learn Computer Science And Programming With Google’s New Education Website

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Britain’s scientists must not be gagged

      Unless government officials make a major U-turn in the next few days, many British scientists will soon be blocked from speaking out on key issues affecting the UK – from climate change to embryo research and from animal experiments to flood defences. This startling, and highly controversial, state of affairs follows a Cabinet Office decision, revealed by the Observer in February, that researchers who receive government grants will be banned, as of 1 May, from using the results of their work to lobby for changes in laws or regulations.

      The aim of the Cabinet Office edict was to stop NGOs from lobbying politicians and Whitehall departments using the government’s own funds. The effect, say senior scientists, campaigners and research groups, will be to muzzle scientists from speaking out on important issues. The government move is a straightforward assault on academic freedom, they argue.

    • How ‘The Jungle Book’ Made Its Animals Look So Real With Groundbreaking VFX

      A small, colorful bird flutters about on screen in the opening scene of Disney’s new live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book, inviting the audience into the mythical wilds with an adorable chirp and clear message on behalf of the filmmakers, which amounts to, “Look what we can do now!”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • John Oliver Shames Congress for America’s Lead Contamination Crisis

      “There is no safe level of lead,” Oliver said. “It’s one of those things that are so dangerous, you shouldn’t even let a little bit inside of you—much like heroin or Jeremy Piven. Even low-level exposure can lead to irreversible damage like lower IQ’s, anti-social behavior, and reduced attention span.”

    • Bernie and Hillary Have Very Different Positions When It Comes to Fracking

      When Bernie Sanders addressed a huge crowd in Binghamton, New York last week and proposed a national fracking ban, it was the first time I’ve heard a national leader of his prominence get the science on fracking right.

      New Yorkers know that science, because we fought tooth and nail to ensure the perils of fracking were understood. In December 2014, our voices were heard, as the health commissioner found that fracking endangered public health. Governor Cuomo famously said he would follow “the science, not emotion” on fracking, and banned it throughout New York.

    • Davison student journalists broadcast loud and clear

      Surrounded by a throng of media outlets from all over the state at a news conference with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver about replacing the city’s lead-tainted water pipes, Bruns, a 17-year-old reporter with Davison Community Schools’ DTV, knew she had to ask a question. Her camera person gave her a small shove into the crowd. She asked about the cost.

      “I have to put my voice out there,” said Bruns, a junior at Davison High School. “It’s taught me a lot about putting myself out there and being confident in my questions. …We’re the only high school doing this.”

      Bruns is part of a small but ambitious group of high school journalists at DTV, Davison’s student-run cable access station. Covering Flint’s water crisis long before the national media descended on Flint, they’re getting powerful first-hand lessons about the role of the media, politics and the human toll when government fails to do its job. Davison is just 10 minutes outside Flint.

    • Investment Court System put to the test

      New EU proposal will perpetuate investors’ attacks on health and environment

  • Security

    • Security updates for Monday
    • DHS CIO walks back staff comments on open source

      Some IT professionals at the Department of Homeland Security raised eyebrows over recent comments on GitHub that suggested a proposed federal open-source policy could result in the “mafia having a copy of all FBI system code” or could give terrorists “access to air traffic control software.” The comments were attributed to the CIO’s office.

      However, DHS CIO Luke McCormack has since filed his own official comments, noting that “prior comments do not represent DHS policy or views.”

    • Microsoft PowerShell — Hackers’ New Favorite Tool For Coding Malware

      You might not know but PowerShell, the ubiquitous force running behind the Windows environment, is slowly becoming a secure way for the attackers to hide their malicious activities. Unfortunately, at the moment, there’s no technical method of distinguishing between malicious and good PowerShell source code.

    • MIT reveals AI platform which detects 85 percent of cyberattacks

      Today’s cybersecurity professionals face daunting tasks: protecting enterprise networks from threats as best they can, damage limitation when data breaches occur, cyberforensics and documenting the evolution and spread of digital attacks and malware across the world.

    • Changing your password regularly is a terrible idea, and here’s why [Ed: security advice from agencies whose modus operandi, based on leaks, is to target sysadmins and hoard all their passwords isn't good advice]

      Most administrators force users to change their password at regular intervals — every 30, 60, or 90 days, for example. But this carries no real benefits as stolen passwords are generally exploited immediately, said CESG, the IT security arm of surveillance agency GCHQ.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • US-Led Coalition Against Daesh Contracts for ‘Indefinite Quantity’ of Ammo

      The US-led coalition against Daesh will buy an unspecified amount of non-standard ammunition from Orbital ATK weapons manufacturer.

    • Orbital ATK making non-U.S. standard ammo for U.S. allies

      Non-U.S. standard ammunition and mortar weapons systems are to continue to be produced by Orbital ATK under a new indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity award from the U.S. Government.

    • Orbital ATK Wins Ammunition and Mortar Weapons Contract From Dept. of Defense (NYSE:OA)
    • Explaining Trump and Clinton to a Global Audience (and to Americans)

      Then across the span of a day, September 11, 2001, America changed. We became, as a nation, afraid.

      We were afraid of enemies most Americans had heard little about. We were afraid of what might happen next. We were afraid of an attack against the shopping mall, the school, the tiny place in our tiny town that didn’t show up well on most local maps, never mind one bin Laden might use. Our fears were carefully curated by opportunistic people in two successive administrations, who used that fear to manipulate democracy itself. They turned America’s vast spying apparatus inward, imposed a global gulag archipelago of torture sites and secret prisons, and institutionalizing the drone wars.

      Amid the various causes and justifications, that it is all about oil, or empire, what it is all about at the root level is fear. Fear of the latest bogeyman, fear screeches of groups on YouTube are real, and that they are ready to strike what we now all call the Homeland. That word never existed in America prior to 9/11.

    • US War Crimes in Iraq: Fallujah Residents Starving, Murdered, Besieged by US Backed Government Forces and ISIS

      Fallujah is now under siege by the US imposed Iraqi puppet government and ISIS – as people demonstrate in thousands in protest at yet another American backed administration which has brought nothing but misery to the population. Incredibly US Vice President Joe Biden and Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani have come together: “to make clear … that no attempt should be made to unseat” the current Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi. (“US, Iran Keep Iraqi PM in Place”, Reuters, 6 April 2016.)

    • Saudis have lobbying muscle for 9/11 fight

      Saudi Arabia has an army of Washington lobbyists to deploy as it tries to stop Congress from passing legislation that could expose the country to litigation over the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

      The kingdom employs a total of eight American firms that perform lobbying, consulting, public relations and legal work.

      Five of the firms work for the Saudi Arabia Embassy, while another two — Podesta Group and BGR Group — have registered to represent the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court, an arm of the government. PR giant Edelman, meanwhile, is working for the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority to encourage international investment.

    • Uncovering the Hidden Truths of 9/11

      This vexing issue is back in the news again thanks to CBS, whose 60 Minutes program reported on the so-called “28 Pages,” the portion of the official report on 9/11 that has been withheld from the public since 2003, through two presidencies. Many former officials, including members of Congress, long demanded Washington release the 28 Pages, to no avail. Presidents Bush and Obama have demurred because those pages reveal some very unflattering things about Saudi Arabia, our longtime ally.

    • An Interview With Gustavo Castro, Sole Witness to Assassination of Berta Cáceres

      The government wanted me under its control. It has no laws that protect victims. Nor does it have regulations or protocols or a budget to protect human rights activists. Nor does it have regulations for protected witnesses. So they wanted me under their so-called protection where there is no law that obligates them to do anything. Which is why I stayed in the Mexican Embassy. But it was a month of horrible stress and tension, in which the government, with its complete lack of regulations or protocols, could easily accuse me of anything at any moment, show up with a judicial order, and the Mexican Embassy wouldn’t have been able to do anything. One week before I arrived in Honduras, the Judicial Commission had been dissolved, so there was no legal instrument with which I could defend myself. There was no commission before which I could denounce a judge who acted illegally, because that commission had been dissolved. So I found myself in total legal defenselessness — without a lawyer, because they suspended her. And it seemed neither international pressure nor the Mexican government could do anything. So it was a state of complete insecurity and a constant violation of my human rights.

    • Saudi Arabia Coerces US Over 9/11

      Saudi Arabia is threatening to financially punish the U.S. if it holds the kingdom to account for its 9/11 role…

    • Clinton and Sanders Back Saudi-9/11 Bill, But Who Has Read ‘Missing 28 Pages’?

      Though he has access to the pages, Sanders told “CBS This Morning” on Monday that he hasn’t yet read them—nor will he, until they are publicly released.

      “The difficulty is,” he explained, “you see then, if you read them, then you’re gonna ask me a question, you’re gonna say, ‘You read them, what’s in them?’ And now I can tell you honestly I have not.”

    • The Pretense of Nation-Building

      It is no wonder then, that U.S. intervention has fomented and fueled sectarian and tribal civil wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere. The expertise of America’s geopolitical planners has proven to be, not in the building of nations, but in the demolition of societies.

    • Tomgram: William Astore, Words About War Matter

      Since 9/11, can there be any doubt that the public has become numb to the euphemisms that regularly accompany U.S. troops, drones, and CIA operatives into Washington’s imperial conflicts across the Greater Middle East and Africa? Such euphemisms are meant to take the sting out of America’s wars back home. Many of these words and phrases are already so well known and well worn that no one thinks twice about them anymore.

      Here are just a few: collateral damage for killed and wounded civilians (a term used regularly since the First Gulf War of 1990-1991). Enhanced interrogation techniques for torture, a term adopted with vigor by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the rest of their administration (“techniques” that were actually demonstrated in the White House). Extraordinary rendition for CIA kidnappings of terror suspects off global streets or from remote badlands, often followed by the employment of enhanced interrogation techniques at U.S. black sites or other foreign hellholes. Detainees for prisoners and detention camp for prison (or, in some cases, more honestly, concentration camp), used to describe Guantánamo (Gitmo), among other places established offshore of American justice. Targeted killings for presidentially ordered drone assassinations. Boots on the ground for yet another deployment of “our” troops (and not just their boots) in harm’s way. Even the Bush administration’s Global War on Terror, its label for an attempt to transform the Greater Middle East into a Pax Americana, would be redubbed in the Obama years overseas contingency operations (before any attempt at labeling was dropped for a no-name war pursued across major swathes of the planet).

    • Iraqi Refugee Kicked Off Plane for Speaking Arabic in L.A. Says Islamophobia Boosts ISIS

      An Iraqi college student was removed from a Southwest Airlines flight in Los Angeles this month and interrogated by the F.B.I. because a fellow passenger overheard him speaking Arabic during the boarding process.

      The student, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, was granted asylum in the United States after his father was killed by Saddam Hussein’s secret police. He told The Intercept that he wants Americans to know about what happened to him because the current wave of anti-Muslim hysteria in the United States is counter-productive, since it reinforces the propaganda of the Islamic extremists. Americans who see all Muslims as potential terrorists, he said, are “playing straight into the rhetoric of the Islamic State — they fall into the trap.”

    • Politics, racism and Israel/Palestine

      If we need to be vigilant against the evil of antisemitism, we need to be equally vigilant against the kind of virulent racism which is gaining ground in Israel.

      [...]

      Anti-Zionist Jews in Israel and in the diaspora find common cause with the Palestinian Authority not because they share a desire to annihilate the Jewish state but because they oppose a militant, ultra-nationalist Zionism that ironically has the denial of Palestinian statehood at its core.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Netherlands moots electric car future with petrol and diesel ban by 2025
    • The Netherlands Could Soon Ban The Sale Of Non-Electric Cars

      In the Netherlands, gas-powered cars could soon be a thing of the past.

      The lower house of the Dutch parliament passed a motion recently that would ban the sales of non-electric cars in the country by 2025. The motion still needs to pass the Senate to become binding, but if it does, it would mean that the only non-electric cars allowed in the Netherlands would be those already on the road today: anyone in the country looking to buy a new car would have to buy electric.

      Such a law would, naturally, lead to a big increase in electric car ownership in the Netherlands. Already, the Netherlands is doing pretty well on EV purchasing: last year, Dutch residents bought more than 43,000 new electric cars, and EVs currently make up nearly 10 percent of the country’s market. The Netherlands ranks second in the world for market share of electric vehicles — behind Norway, where over 22 percent of the market is made up of electric cars. In the United States, for comparison, EVs make up 0.66 percent of the market.

    • 250 Faith Leaders Demand Nations Ratify Paris Climate Deal

      Former U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres has credited faith groups for helping to advance the Paris Climate Agreement by supporting “holistic, equitable, but above all, ambitious climate action.”

    • Fossil fuels could be phased out worldwide in a decade, says new study

      The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to an article published by a major energy think tank.

  • Finance

    • How The American Neoconservatives Destroyed Mankind’s Hopes For Peace

      The only achievements of the American neoconservatives are to destroy in war crimes millions of peoples in eight countries and to send the remnant populations fleeing into Europe as refugees, thus undermining the American puppet governments there, and to set back the chances of world peace and American leadership by creating a powerful strategic alliance between Russia and China.

    • Lies and the Koh I Noor Diamond

      Britain annexed the Sikh Kingdom. Poor Dulip Singh was forcibly separated from his mother and exiled to Scotland, where he was held effectively a state prisoner until his death.

      It is bad enough to see senior Indians kowtowing to that lazy bald bloke and his skinny wife, on the very expensive luxury holiday I am paying for, without also seeing the Indian government playing lickspittle in court.

    • Wonks and Activists

      In other posts I wrote about how Paul Krugman, a genuine expert, was completely wrong about the impact of trade treaties, especially NAFTA. Larry Summers, a genuine expert with a lot of real-world experience, has been disastrously wrong on a number of occasions, not least of which was his loud endorsement of financial deregulation, even after the Long Term Capital Management debacle. Summers was one of the people who quashed the efforts of Brooksley Born to regulate derivatives.

    • The Obamacare “Wonks” Are Awfully Selective about Which Taxes and Costs They See

      In this passage, Cohn talks about the things that Bernie Sanders might do as President that fall short of his goal of “single payer” health care (I put that in quotes because what we’re really talking about is government paid health insurance — as providers pull out of exchanges in Obamacare we’re actually moving closer to a much more alarming sort of single payer model).

    • Panama Papers: Reigniting the Debate for a Global Tax Body

      Globally, economists estimate that $7.6tn worth of assets are held off shore and are thereby avoiding taxation – 25% more than five years ago and equivalent to 8% of the world’s total financial assets. Citizens for Tax Justice have calculated that Fortune 500 companies alone hold a record $2.4tn in offshore accounts, which they argue allows them to avoid almost $700bn in US federal income taxes. Most recently, Oxfam have estimated that the 50 largest US companies have $1.4 trillion hidden in Tax havens, which costs the US government approximately $111 each year. In the EU, governments are reportedly losing out on revenues of between 50-70bn euros ($56-79bn).

    • The Panama Papers and the 1%

      Mainstream media have had little to say about the tax evasions of global corporations, choosing instead to focus on world leaders who, personally or via family and cronies, have moved funds into companies abroad to avoid paying taxes—for instance, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, David Cameron, Nawaz Sharif, and Iceland’s Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (the only one to step down). Naturally, they all reject criticism, saying that what they did isn’t illegal (Britain, Pakistan, and Iceland), or the leaks are a Western attempt to undermine their rule (Russia), or the news isn’t fit to print (China). Largely missing from the discussion is the consequences of tax avoidance: it robs the poor—countries and people—to further enrich the wealthy. Unpaid taxes skew government budgets, reduce spending on social well being, and, for a poor country, force reliance on foreign loans that typically come with strings attached. In countries with widespread official corruption, the poor are doubly cheated.

    • Patriotic Philanthropy?

      On one hand, Rubinstein uses his wealth to preserve various artifacts of American history. On the other, he uses his wealth to convince lawmakers to maintain a preferential and fundamentally unfair tax status for himself and other millionaires and billionaires. There’s nothing patriotic or philanthropic about subverting the fabric of our democracy.

    • Hooray for Hillary Clinton’s Ties to Walmart

      Senator Bernie Sanders is emailing supporters highlighting the fact that his opponent in the Democratic presidential primary, Hillary Clinton, is being supported by “enormous checks from people like Alice Walton (yes, Wal-Mart).” And it is true. Federal campaign finance records show that Walton, of Bentonville, Arkansas, gave Hillary Clinton’s campaign $2,700, and then wrote another check, for $353,400, to the “Hillary Victory Fund.”

      The support for Clinton’s campaign represents something of a political shift for Walton. Previously, her large donations had mainly gone to Republicans. The Federal Election Commission records show she donated a total of $200,000 in 2011 and 2012 to a committee backing Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, and a total of $2 million in 2004 to a group supporting President George W. Bush’s reelection. Additional contributions of more than $150,000 in the past dozen years have gone to groups supporting Republican candidates for the House and Senate.

    • Panama and the Criminalization of the Global Finance System

      Well, Panama was basically carved off from Colombia in order to have a canal. It was created very much like Liberia. It’s not really a country in the sense that a country has its own currency and its own tax system. Panama uses U.S. dollars. So does Liberia.

      The real story didn’t come out in the Panama papers. Reporters naturally focused on criminal people laundering money. But Panama wasn’t designed to launder money. It was designed to launder earnings – mainly by the oil and the gas industries, and the mining industry.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Hillary Clinton and the Gender Card

      Not race nor gender — nor any other innate characteristic — should be the touchstone in voting for President of the United States. Yet, as I have traveled the country these past several years, I have been amazed at how many Americans have no qualms in stating that their support for President Barack Obama is based solely – or mostly – on his being black. Equally amazing is the unabashedly indiscriminate support I hear voiced by highly educated women for Hillary Clinton – “because she is a woman and it’s our turn,” as they put it.

    • Bernie Sanders Is Almost Tied Nationally and Ahead of Clinton in Three Democratic Primary Polls
    • Once Ahead by 60 Points, Clinton National Lead over Sanders Has Dwindled to Zero

      Though all political eyes in the U.S. are now focused like a laser beam on Tuesday’s New York primary, the national trends remain startling when it comes to the intense competition between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

      Though Clinton led Sanders by sixty points when he entered the campaign less than a year ago, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Monday shows that lead has been “all but eliminated” – with only two percentage points now separating the Democratic candidates.

      As the Journal reports, “The result continues a steady narrowing of the gap between the two Democratic candidates since January, when Mrs. Clinton led by 25 points, 59% to 34%. And it is a far cry from the way the race looked when Mr. Sanders began his campaign last year: In June 2015, a Journal/NBC poll found Mrs. Clinton leading by 60 percentage points, 75% to 15%.”

    • Bill Moyers: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics

      When a politician talks anger and they talk fear, they are mainlining, just like a heroin addict, going straight for the most sensitive parts of the brain because fear and anger are those emotions that we really relate to. And when a politician engages and indulges people’s fears and their angers, they seem really authentic. That’s why Donald Trump seems so authentic to so many millions of people because these emotions are so strong and powerful.

    • Democrats March Toward Cliff

      It is hard to imagine someone who is viewed unfavorably by a clear majority of voters (56 percent) and with a net-negative of 24 points winning the White House, except that most voters also don’t like the top Republican choices either. Donald Trump sports a 41-point net-negative and Sen. Ted Cruz is at minus-23 points. (By contrast, of the two trailing candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders gets a net-positive 9 points and Gov. John Kasich a net-positive 12 points.)

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Russia’s Top Investigator Wants Internet Censorship to Fight U.S. ‘Info War’
    • Top Russian investigator proposes internet censorship using Chinese experience
    • Literary censorship in schools impedes progress

      “I believe that books challenge and interrogate. They give us windows into the lives of others and give us mirrors so that we can better see ourselves. Ultimately if you have a worldview that can be undone by a novel, let me submit that the problem is not with the novel,” states bestselling author John Green in his latest YouTube video, “On the Banning of Looking for Alaska.” His response comes right after the American Library Association (ALA) released its list of the most banned or challenged books of 2015 with Green’s award-winning novel, “Looking for Alaska,” topping off the list at number one.

    • American Self-Censorship Association

      The American Bar Association is bowing to China again. Last year it barely mumbled condemnation after Beijing rounded up more than 200 lawyers and legal activists across China. Now comes news that it also nixed a book deal with a leading human-rights lawyer for fear of “upsetting the Chinese government.”

    • Teng Biao Book Canceled for Fear of “Upsetting” China

      Human rights lawyer and activist Teng Biao, living in the U.S. since 2014 as the situation for rights lawyers back in China has become increasingly bleak, has been working on the book “Darkness Before Dawn,” a reflection on his 11 years of fighting for human rights in China. The American Bar Association (ABA), which had commissioned the book in late 2014, last year wrote Teng with bad news: they would not be able to publish the book due to “concern that we run the risk of upsetting the Chinese government.”

    • Leaked Email: ABA Cancels Book for Fear of ‘Upsetting the Chinese Government’

      The American Bar Association insists the move was market-driven, but an employee email says otherwise.

    • Is the ABA Afraid of the Chinese Government?

      The American Bar Association retracted an offer to publish the book of a well-known Chinese human rights lawyer last year, Foreign Policy reported on Friday.

      In a January 2015 email to human rights lawyer and author Teng Biao, one ABA employee said the book was being killed because of the “risk of upsetting the Chinese government,” according to the article in Foreign Policy. A reporter for the magazine said Teng only forwarded the ABA’s email to his publication last week.

    • China Bans Rich Kids From TV So They Can’t Embarrass the State
    • Censorship FTW! China bans Paris Hilton, minor Kardashians et al

      It might be time to reconsider the evils of China’s censorship regime, after the Middle Kingdom slapped a ban on reality TV shows featuring celebrities’ children.

      China’s not super-keen on reality shows: this 2015 speech by official Tian Jin urges their producers to make people, not celebrities, the real heroes of such programs. It also calls for reality shows to demonstrate proper socialistic values, represent historical and cotemporary Chinese culture faithfully and avoid sexing things up and thereby straying from the truth.

      State-owned outlet Xinhua now reports that the nation’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) has circulated an edict effectively banning reality shows featuring celebrities’ kids from state-owned media.

    • Government denies allegations of state media censorship

      This declaration comes days after a US State Department Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2015, cited actions of Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo under the heading of ‘Censorship or Content Restrictions’.

    • US Human Rights report cites PM’s “headline” concern

      Nagamootoo’s directive to the state-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper that all headlines must first get his office’s green-light.

      ‘In August the prime minister issued a directive that all headlines in the state-owned print media be first scrutinized and approved by his office before they are published. The directive was a response to a headline criticizing the government,” the report notes.

    • Nothing About The Story Of An Artist Being Threatened With A Lawsuit Over A Painting Of A Small-Dicked Donald Trump Makes Sense

      The Guardian had a weird story over the weekend claiming that artist Illma Gore is being threatened with a lawsuit if she sells a painting she created of a naked Donald Trump with, well, a less than average sized schlong (and I use that term, only because Trump apparently likes that word). I won’t post an image of the painting. The Guardian has the whole thing if you really feel like seeing it. But almost nothing in the story makes any sense at all.

    • Another police report made against Amos Yee – this time for insulting Islam

      Amos Yee whose whereabouts is still unknown has uploaded a photo in his Facebook. In the photo he is seen with a shawl over his head, holding up a Quran with one hand and making an extremely rude gesture with another.

    • Indonesia tells Singapore to mind its own business over the haze issue

      IN comments certain to rile Singaporean officials, Indonesia’s Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said Singapore should stop commenting on Indonesia’s efforts to combat haze and fires, and “focus on their own role.”

      Indonesia’s neighbors, Singapore and Malaysia, are frequently victims of haze from fires in Indonesian territory in what seems to be an annual affair. Jakarta has often been accused of not doing enough to address the problem, and the minister’s comments suggest that it is irritated over the criticism it receives.

      While strongly defending her government’s commitment to curbing land and forest fires, Siti questioned Singapore’s role in doing the same.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Indonesia rules out apology to victims at state-endorsed talks on 1965 massacres

      Human rights advocates are hopeful the symposium will lead to a public hearing process, so Indonesians can hear firsthand accounts from survivors and descendants of victims.

      “This is an essential element of an effective accountability process,” said Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth.

      “Dozens of countries around the world have had truth commissions shed light on past atrocities, issues that are always difficult matters to address. Why not Indonesia?”

    • Police Officer Attempts To Set Record For Most Constitutional Violations In A Single Traffic Stop

      As we’re well aware, officers need not trouble themselves as to the details of the laws they enforce. If they feel something is a violation of the law, they’re pretty much free to pull someone over and engage in some light questioning. (The Ninth Circuit Appeals Court recently declared it’s even OK for police officers to lie about the reason they’ve pulled you over.)

    • 27 Percent of New York’s Registered Voters Won’t Be Able to Vote in the State’s Primary

      New York’s restrictive voting laws hurt voters across the political spectrum, but could have a particularly chilling effect on younger Bernie Sanders supporters. “Thirty-seven percent of voters under the age of 30—the Vermont senator’s core group of supporters—aren’t registered to a political party in New York City,” writes Russell Berman in The Atlantic. There’s a good chance a surge of non-affiliated voters will show up at the polls on Tuesday, only to be turned away. (Hundreds of New Yorkers have also filed suit because their registrations have mysteriously changed from Democratic or Republican to not affiliated or independent.)

    • Only Bernie Sanders can break the power of capitalism in the US

      Defining the race as a choice between class and identity, between economic justice and social justice, was Clinton’s masterstroke. If it works, Sanders will be sunk by a combination of Wall Street money and millions of black votes in the southern states. The latter backed Clinton in some places eight or nine to one.

    • UC Davis Chancellor Survives 5-Week Sit-In Protesting Her Ties To Companies That Profit Off Students

      It’s one thing for a university chancellor to sit on a for-profit board. It’s another for a chancellor to sit on the board of a company that makes money off of students with expensive textbooks, and then move on to another that’s under investigation by the federal government.

    • #BlackLivesMatter in Britain too: why does our media care less?

      The UK media seems more comfortable talking about race issues in America than those closer to home. It is the BBC’s responsibility to challenge these double standards.

    • Pennsylvania Cop Threatens Child on School Bus: Don’t Smile or I’ll Drag You to the F*cking Police Car

      A police officer outside the city of Pittsburgh was caught on tape berating a school child on a bus for smiling at him, according to a video posted to Facebook.

      The video was posted on April 13 but the caption doesn’t give much in the way of details. It says the officer works for the North Braddock Police Department. He walks over to a child seated on a school bus and leans over threateningly.

    • Court Shoots Down Cops Attempting To Prop Up Two Warrantless Searches With A Stack Of Lies

      “Our word against yours,” says law enforcement. The accusers are almost always deemed eminently credible. Presumption of innocence and all that, but the accused are almost always deemed… incredible[?]… right up until law enforcement shows its narrative can’t hold hydrogen or oxygen, much less water. (via FourthAmendment.com)

      Roughly paraphrased, this is the story: some cop saw a guy take a white grocery bag full of something and put it in his car. Surveillance commenced. The car’s driver failed to signal a turn, which was all the cops needed to begin an exploratory stop.

      As we know, law enforcement is no longer allowed to artificially prolong traffic stops until probable cause for a search develops. Instead, it must hand out its tickets and move along. Exceptions apply, of course, but that is the gist of the Supreme Court’s Rodriguez decision.

    • N.D.Okla: Material govt’s LEO witnesses to consent were so bad govt retracted their testimony, and search fails

      The government realized when they called defendant’s estranged wife near the end of the suppression hearing about the alleged consent search of their house that “As the suppression hearing unfolded over the course of two days, the credibility of certain law enforcement witnesses was called into serious question” about the search of the house. They regrouped, asked to reopen the proof, and retracted the testimony they found false. The court makes the credibility determination that all the material government witnesses aren’t believable and suppresses the consent search. Without the consent search, the search warrant fails, too. United States v. Fernandes, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17933 (N.D.Okla. Feb. 12, 2016).

    • City Council Using Open Records Requests To See What Members Are Saying About Them Behind Their Backs

      Most convicts already have diminished rights, depending on their convictions. Denying open records to ex-cons or those in prison denies them access to justice. It doesn’t happen often, but prisoners have been able to have their cases reheard by uncovering prosecutorial misconduct through FOIA requests. And let’s not forget that a man imprisoned for tax fraud blew the lid off law enforcement’s use of Stingray devices while still behind bars, thanks to incessant FOIA requests.

      The step back from the slope was one of pure capitulation: council member Emma Acosta never tabled the motion. Apparently she was well-aware the discriminatory suggestion wouldn’t survive a challenge. She instead proposed that telephone numbers of city employees should be redacted and her “no criminals allowed” suggestion was removed from the agenda.

    • Bernie Supporters Are Mostly Disappointed in Obama

      As for Bernie supporters, I don’t think they view Obama as a rebel or a truthteller. Bernie himself is careful not to criticize Obama, but a lot of his supporters see Obama as basically a disappointment: just another squishy centrist who made some incremental progress and called it a day. In the end, we still don’t have universal health care; the banks are still running things; the Republican Party continues to obstruct; and rich people are still rich. That’s the very reason we need a guy like Bernie in the Oval Office.

    • The Oregon Department of Justice Trains Agents on How to Break the Law

      After about five months of waiting, the Oregon Department of Justice last week released its internal human resources investigation conducted by the special assistant attorney general looking into the surveillance of people on Twitter using #BlackLivesMatter.

    • An Internal Report on Oregon’s Illegal Surveillance of Black Lives Matter on Twitter Leaves Us With More Questions Than Answers
    • The Oregon Department of Justice’s Illegal Surveillance Shows It Lives Inside a Bubble of Bias

      The state of Oregon last week finally released the long awaited report on its Department of Justice’s surveillance of people using the Black Lives Matter hashtag among others. The report and the 162 page appendix, the work of an independent investigator, is disturbing and reveals a range of deeply troubling issues about the Justice Department’s Criminal Justice Division, so much so, that we decided we needed to tackle it in separate posts.

    • More than 900 ‘Democracy Spring’ protesters arrested in D.C. – so far

      Police have calmly arrested hundreds of people in Washington, D,.C. protesting the influence of money in politics during the last week, in what several participants described as a striking display of restrained law enforcement.

      More arrests are expected Monday, the final day of protests when the focus of the non-violent protests turn to voting rights and timely consideration of the Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court. U.S. Capitol Police have arrested more than 900 protesters through Saturday.

      Mass demonstrations by a group called “Democracy Spring” began last Monday. A related group, “Democracy Awakening,” joined the efforts on Saturday and are holding often integrated sit ins and other demonstrations to protest laws it considers discriminatory, such as Voter ID laws.

    • Why Can’t The Nation & the Left Deal With Election Theft?

      To avoid the circular firing squad in which the left indulges every election year, we should make it clear that we are both members of the Green Party. We prefer Bernie to Hillary, but like Jill Stein most of all. We hope Bernie at some point will establish a substantial string of grassroots training camps so the thousands of highly active young people who are supporting him will convert those energies to great long-term community organizing.

    • Sweden’s housing minister resigns amid ‘extremist links’ row [iophk: "This is the same guy that has openly admitted to pushing an islamist agenda"]

      Turkish-born Mehmet Kaplan denies wrongdoing and says he is stepping down due to public and media criticism

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Broadband Industry Is Now Officially Blaming Google (Alphabet) For…Everything

      From net neutrality to municipal broadband, to new broadband privacy rules and a quest to open up the cable set top box to competition, we’ve noted repeatedly that the FCC under Tom Wheeler isn’t the same FCC we’ve learned to grumble about over the years. For a twenty-year stretch, regardless of party control, the agency was utterly, dismally apathetic to the lack of competition in the broadband space. But under Wheeler, the FCC has not only made broadband competition a priority, but has engaged in other bizarre, uncharacteristic behaviors — like using actual real-world data to influence policy decisions.

    • House Passes Bill Attempting To Gut Net Neutrality, Supporters Declare The Internet Saved

      As we’ve been discussing, the House has been pushing a new bill dubbed the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act” (pdf). As the name implies, the bill is being framed as a way to keep an “out of control” government from imposing new price caps on broadband, not coincidentally as the broadband industry increasingly eyes usage caps and overages to take advantage of a lack of sector competition. The bill has numerous problems, not least of which being that a special definition of “rate regulation” included in the bill would effectively prevent the FCC from doing, well, anything.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Russia: New Amendments Would Allow Use Of Inventions Without Permission Of Patent Holders

      The Russian government is considering approval of a package of controversial amendments to national legislation that would allow the use of inventions without the permission of patent holders.

    • WIPO Committee Adopts New Development Projects, Agrees Future Work, Stumbles On Technical Assistance

      The issue of technical assistance that WIPO provides to developing countries is a tough issue as developing countries have expressed concern about the nature of advice being provided – that it might favour the strict application of intellectual property rights instead of also presenting flexibilities available to developing and least-developed countries.

    • Computer generates all possible ideas to beat patent trolls

      Alex Reben came up with 2.5 million ideas in just three days. Nearly all of them are terrible – but he doesn’t mind. He thinks he has found a way to thwart patent trolls by putting their speculative ideas in the public domain before they can make a claim.

      In his project, called All Prior Art, Reben, an artist and engineer, uses software to rummage through the US patent database, which is freely available online. The software extracts sentences from patent documents and splices them into phrases that describe new inventions.

      The result is a bizarre array of contraptions that don’t quite make sense. A robotic phone book. A nasal plug adorned with magnetic jewellery. 3D-printed soap that kills pests on strawberry plants. And one of Reben’s favourites – a temperature-regulating adult nappy with a built-in hood.

    • Epic Trade Secret Case Billion Dollar Verdict

      I expect that 2016 will be the year that Congress to creates a federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation. Acting in rare unanimous fashion, the Senate recently passed the Defend Trade Secret Act (DTSA) with republican leadership. The house is expected to follow with President Obama also indicating support. In his most recent State of the Union Address, President Obama noted that “[n]o foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to . . . steal our trade secrets.”

    • Copyrights

      • After 4 Years… Copyright Holders Still Think Megaupload is Alive

        More than four years after Megaupload was taken down by the U.S. Government, several prominent copyright holders still ‘think’ that the site is hosting infringing content. Automated bots operated by their anti-piracy partners continue to send Google numerous takedown notices for Megaupload URLs, more than it received when the site was still online.

      • A Pirate in Local Government – An Interview with David Elston
      • EU Regulators Seem To Think They Can Tell YouTube That Its Business Model Should Be More Like Spotify

        We’ve been quite concerned about new internet regulations on the way from the EU, with a focus on how internet platforms must act. As we’ve noted, the effort is officially part of the (reasonable and good!) idea of making a “Digital Single Market,” but where the process is being used by some who think it’s an opportunity to attack the big internet companies (mainly Google and Facebook). There are two EU Commissioners heading up the effort, and one, Gunther Oettinger, has been fairly explicit that he’d like to burden American internet firms with regulations to “replace” them with European equivalents. Of course, as we’ve noted, when you have giant companies like Google and Facebook, they can pretty much handle whatever regulatory burden you throw at them. It’s the innovators and the startups that will be shut out because they won’t be able to manage it. So, ironically, in trying to hold back Google and Facebook with regulations, the EU would really only entrench them as the only players able to handle those regulations.

      • Supreme Court Says It Won’t Hear Authors Guild Appeal Over Google Books Ruling

        Last fall, the 2nd Circuit appeals court gave a clear and convincing win to Google in the long-running Authors Guild case against Google’s book scanning program. And, really, the decision was a massive win for the public, in that it was a strong defense of fair use (even in commercial settings). But, of course, the still clueless Authors Guild — which doesn’t seem to actually represent the interests of most authors (many of whom have found Google Books to be a profoundly useful tool) — decided to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the case.

      • Case Closed: Supreme Court Lets Fair Use Ruling Stand in Google Books Litigation

        The Google Books case is over after a decade of litigation, leaving in its wake new guidance on the reach of the fair use doctrine and, not incidentally, protection for an extraordinary public resource for finding books and information.

04.18.16

Links 18/4/2016: Linux 4.6 RC4, Tomb Raider for GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 8:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Keeping the Blockchain Open in the Shadow of Tech Giants

    You’ll find it parroted most in the open source community, particularly when Microsoft pulls stunts like their recent “partnering” with canonical to implement an Ubuntu-like Posix environment in Windows Ten. The phrase originates from the DOJ’s findings during the United States v. Microsoft Corp. antitrust case in 2003, as an internal standard for their technology development. Examples of Microsoft’s attempts at this methodology are pervasive in their offerings, including ActiveX and DirectX in the web and graphics software ecosystems, and recently, their involvement with the Linux community.

  • MEF, China Unicom, ON.Lab, Huawei Sign Open Source Agreement

    The MEF, China Unicom, ON.Lab, and Huawei are pleased to announce a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on using open source solutions to transform Central Offices and accelerate the industry transition to Third Network services. MOU partners will develop Proof of Concept use cases that illustrate how operators can deliver agile, assured, and orchestrated MEF-defined services by using open source software and open specification hardware. These use cases will serve as a stepping stone for deployable Third Network services that yield productivity-enhancing benefits for end customers.

  • Events

    • Mixing Linux and ZFS, LinuxFest NorthWest and More…

      It’s LinuxFest NorthWest time! I’ve never been to LFNW, but I have a soft spot in my heart for it’s hometown of Bellingham, Washington. Back in the day — we’re talking the late 1960s and early 70s — Bellingham was home to a hippie underground newspaper, Northwest Passage, that was known in counterculture circles of the day across the continent. Alas, the Passage has been gone since ’86, but its spirit seems to live on in a high techy, Linuxy sort of way at LFNW. From what I’ve seen, LFNW seems to be the most community driven and for-the–people of the major festivals in the U.S.

    • Reflections on Starting a Local FOSS Group

      Last Wednesday was no less than the third time the local FOSS group in Aalborg met. Today I’m looking back at how it all started so I thought I would share some thoughts that may help others who would like to spread free and open source software in their local area.

    • BrickHack 2016

      Last month at the Rochester Institute of Technology, BrickHack 2016 came to a close. BrickHack is an annual hackathon organized by students at RIT. Close to 300 people attend every year. This year was BrickHack’s second event.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • An introduction to Redox

        Back in March, a young operating system project attracted attention in the open source community. The project is called Redox and its developers are working on a Unix-like operating system written in the Rust language. The Redox operating system features a microkernel design (like MINIX), the permissive MIT license and some interesting design ideas.

        While I read a lot of opinions in March about the developers and their design goals, I encountered very little commentary on what it was like to use the young operating system itself. This lead me to become curious and download the project’s small installation ISO which is just 26MB in size.

      • Firefox 45.0.2 Has Been Released
      • Thunderbird 45.0 Has Been Released, Bringing New Features And Bug-Fixes
      • ‘BLATANTLY ILLEGAL’: 17 newspapers slam ex-Mozilla CEO’s new ad-blocking browser [Ed: means he does it right!]

        A group of the biggest US newspaper publishers — including Dow Jones, The Washington Post, and The New York Times Co. — have cosigned what they are calling a “cease and desist” letter (read it in full below) sent to the former Mozilla CEO’s new browser company.

      • A nail in the coffin for Firefox? Mozilla struggles to redefine browser

        A quiet announcement about a new Mozilla project sounded like a death knell for the Firefox browser.

        It wasn’t. But the project, called Tofino, reveals the technology challenges Mozilla faces more than a decade after Firefox’s debut. Hundreds of millions of people still use the browser, but its star is fading compared with Google’s Chrome.

        Mozilla released details about the Tofino project Friday, saying a six-person team at Mozilla will consider how to radically revamp Web browsers.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • LibreOffice

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Richard Stallman on Free Software: Freedom is Worth the Inconvenience

      Dr. Richard Stallman is an inductee of the internet hall of fame as well as the founder of the “Free Software” movement. In the words of Robert Grüning “Richard Stallman is like the Socrates of software, the money making colleagues are the sophists.” Another member of my audience said that Stallman is like Tron – he fights for the users. Yet Richard himself disliked both characterizations and called them misleading. So I suggest you check out my Singularity 1on1 interview with Richard Stallman, learn about the Free Software movement and judge for yourself.

    • DejaGnu 1.6 released

      DejaGnu 1.6 was released on April 15, 2016. Important changes include decent SSH support, many bug fixes and a much improved manual. Many old and defunct board files have been removed.

    • Libgcrypt 1.7.0 released
  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Free, high-quality education resources from the National Science Digital Library

        The use of open educational resources is growing. Open education involves making learning materials, data, and educational opportunities available to all without the restrictions of copyright and proprietary licensing models. According to U.S. Secretary of Education John King, “Openly licensed educational resources can increase equity by providing all students, regardless of zip code, access to high-quality learning materials that have the most up-to-date and relevant content.”

    • Open Hardware or OS

      • Redox: a Rust-based microkernel

        Creating a new operating system from scratch is a daunting task—witness the slow progress of GNU Hurd, for example. But it would be hard to argue that the existing systems are the be-all and end-all of how we interact with computer hardware. At least some of the deficiencies in today’s offerings can arguably be traced to the language used to implement them; C, for all its power, has some fairly serious flaws that lead to bugs and security holes of various sorts. So it is interesting to see a new entrant that uses the Rust language, which is focused on memory safety. The result is Redox, which is still far from ready for everyday use, but may provide an interesting counterpoint to Linux, the BSDs, OS X, Windows, and others.

      • Announcing Kestrel-4

        Based on the recent and wild success of the Kestrel-3 home-brew computer project, I am happy to announce my next project for the open computing masses. Say hello to the Kestrel-4.

      • An Open-Source Steam Controller Driver is in Development

        What properly holds me back from buying one is the fact I need to use Steam to use the controller, and the few games I do play aren’t available on Steam (e.g, SuperTuxKart, MAME, etc).

      • Open-source 3D printed WireBeings robot allows for voice controlled wifi functionality at a bargain

        When I was a child growing up in the 1980s robots were something found exclusively in the realm of science fiction. As time passed, the 1990s emerged and Honda’s Asimo started making appearances in tech-centric television programming on the Discovery Channel or TLC (this, during an era when those networks still focused on educational content).

  • Programming/Development

    • RFC: EfficiencySanitizer

      We plan to build a suite of compiler-based dynamic instrumentation tools for analyzing targeted performance problems. These tools will all live under a new “EfficiencySanitizer” (or “esan”) sanitizer umbrella, as they will share significant portions of their implementations.

    • Google Is Working On An Efficiency Sanitizer To Improve Performance Problems

      Derek Bruening of Google has announced the company’s interest in creating an “Efficiency Sanitizer” for LLVM/Clang for analyzing targeted performance problems.

      Worked on Google and other compoanies have been Address Sanitizer, Memory Sanitizer, Thread Sanitizer, Leak Sanitizer, Data Flow Sanitizer, and other sanitizers found in LLVM/Clang some of which have also been ported to GCC. These sanitizers have been incredibly helpful for developers in catching various problems within program code-bases, including many security issues. The latest focus being pursued by Google’s compiler engineers is on an Efficiency Sanitizer.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • 10 Inventors Who Died Because Of Their Own Inventions

      These people made contributions to the mankind but they would have never thought that their own creation would be held accountable for their last breath.

    • Actor Wil Wheaton Brings Love of Arts to STEM Festival

      Actor and writer Wil Wheaton wants to “add an A to the STEM acronym and make it STEAM.” He’ll be speaking at the USA Science and Engineering Festival April 16-17 in Washington about why he thinks the arts should be represented in the acronym commonly used when referring to the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

      Wheaton, 43, best known for his role as Wesley Crusher on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in the 1980s and ’90s and more recently as a fictionalized version of himself on “The Big Bang Theory,” says that he has always been fascinated by science and technology, and has made it a goal of his to ensure that kids get the encouragement they need to pursue those fields.

    • Kettering Cosmos: How school children exposed Soviet secret

      The existence of the Plesetsk site was not admitted by the USSR for a further 17 years.

      It was reported at the time that the schoolboys had “beat the Americans” in discovering the site. Bob Christy, another pupil who participated in the experiment, thinks they probably knew of its existence, but the school’s work made sure the information was made public.

      “It wasn’t about studying the Russian space programme, it was about helping children understand space,” he said.

  • Hardware

    • Intel planning for thousands of job cuts, internal sources say

      Intel is preparing a significant round of job cuts across business units this spring, according to multiple sources inside the company familiar with its plans.

      The cutbacks will reduce employment in some parts of the business by double-digit percentages, according to Intel insiders, amounting to thousands of job cuts across the company by the end of the year. The planned downsizing could begin soon after Intel reports its first-quarter financial results Tuesday, though sources say timing and specifics remain fluid.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Monsanto’s Most Dangerous Product?

      On 13 April, the EU Parliament called on the European Commission to restrict certain permitted uses of the toxic herbicide glyphosate, best known in Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’ formulation.

      Glyphosate was last year determined to be “probably carcinogenic” by the WHO, and the resolution calls for no approval for many uses now considered acceptable, including use in or close to public parks, playgrounds and gardens and use where integrated pest management systems are sufficient for necessary weed control. The resolution falls short of an outright ban called for by many and also calls for the renewal of the licence for glyphosate to be limited to just seven years instead of the 15 proposed by the Commission.

      Nearly 700 MEPs voted on the seven-year licensing of glyphosate and the vote was passed by 374 votes in favor to 225 votes against.

    • This is what a dying NHS looks like

      If you don’t believe the Tories would destroy the NHS it’s time to face reality. It’s happening right now. The NHS is critically unwell, and whether it’s deliberate or not, death’s door is open.

  • Security

    • Backdoor in JBoss Java Platform Puts 3.2 Million Servers at Risk
    • Let’s Encrypt: threat or opportunity to other certificate authorities?

      Let’s Encrypt is a certificate authority (CA) that just left beta stage, that provides domain name-validated (DV) X.509 certificates for free and in an automated way: users just have to run a piece of software on their server to get and install a certificate, resulting in a valid TLS setup.

    • Making it easier to deploy TPMTOTP on non-EFI systems

      On EFI systems you can handle this by sticking the secret in an EFI variable (there’s some special-casing in the code to deal with the additional metadata on the front of things you read out of efivarfs). But that’s not terribly useful if you’re not on an EFI system. Thankfully, there’s a way around this. TPMs have a small quantity of nvram built into them, so we can stick the secret there. If you pass the -n argument to sealdata, that’ll happen. The unseal apps will attempt to pull the secret out of nvram before falling back to looking for a file, so things should just magically work.

    • Badlock Vulnerability Falls Flat Against Its Hype

      Weeks of anxiety and concern over the Badlock vulnerability ended today with an anticlimactic thud.

    • Samba 4.4.2, 4.3.8 and 4.2.11 Security Releases Available for Download
    • The Internet of bricks

      One of the promises of the “Internet of things” is that it gives us greater control over our homes, gadgets, and more. Free software also offers that sort of promise, along with the idea that, if necessary, we can support our own gadgetry when the manufacturer moves on to some new shiny object. The currently unfolding story of the Revolv hub shows that, in many cases, these promises are empty. The devices we depend on and think we own can, in fact, be turned into useless bricks at the manufacturer’s whim.

      The Revolv “M1″ home-automation hub was one of many products designed to bring home control to the Internet. It is able to control lights, heating, and more, all driven by smartphone-based applications. The product was sufficiently successful to catch the eye of the business-development folks at Nest, who acquired the company; Nest was acquired in turn by Google, and is now a separate company under the “Alphabet” umbrella.

    • Underwriters Labs refuses to share new IoT cybersecurity standard

      UL, the 122-year-old safety standards organisation whose various marks (UL, ENEC, etc.) certify minimum safety standards in fields as diverse as electrical wiring, cleaning products, and even dietary supplements, is now tackling the cybersecurity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices with its new UL 2900 certification. But there’s a problem: UL’s refusal to freely share the text of the new standard with security researchers leaves some experts wondering if UL knows what they’re doing.

      When Ars requested a copy of the UL 2900 docs to take a closer look at the standard, UL (formerly known as Underwriters Laboratories) declined, indicating that if we wished to purchase a copy—retail price, around £600/$800 for the full set—we were welcome to do so. Independent security researchers are also, we must assume, welcome to become UL retail customers.

    • Combined malware threat is robbing banks of millions every day

      THE SECURITY attack dogs at IBM have uncovered two normally solo malware threats working together to rob banks in the US and Canada.

      IBM’s X-Force division has dubbed the combined malware Stealma and Louise GozNym by merging the names of the individual, but now friendly, Gozi ISFB and Nymaim.

      “It appears that the operators of Nymaim have recompiled its source code with part of the Gozi ISFB source code, creating a combination that is being actively used in attacks against more than 24 US and Canadian banks, stealing millions of dollars so far,” said IBM in a blog post.

    • Flaw-finding Ruby on Rails bot steams past humans
    • Future of secure systems in the US

      Security and privacy are important to many people. Given the personal and financial importance of data stored in computers (traditional or mobile), users don’t want criminals to get a hold of it. Companies know this, which is why both Apple IOS and Google Android both encrypt their local file systems by default now. If a bill anything like what’s been proposed becomes law, users that care about security are going to go elsewhere. That may end up being non-US companies’ products or US companies may shift operations to localities more friendly to secure design. Either way, the US tech sector loses. A more accurate title would have been Technology Jobs Off-Shoring Act of 2016.

    • Software end of life matters!

      Anytime you work on a software project, the big events are always new releases. We love to get our update and see what sort of new and exciting things have been added. New versions are exciting, they’re the result of months or years of hard work. Who doesn’t love to talk about the new cool things going on?

    • JBOSS Backdoor opens 3 million servers at risk of attacks
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Hillary’s Neocon Problem

      Hillary Clinton has a dark history in foreign policy. Indeed, if the Nuremberg principles were applied evenly, her name would certainly be on the docket, along with her former boss in the White House, who is actually less of a hawk than she. When Donald Trump publicly expressed a willingness to negotiate with Russia over international conflicts, she referred to such an idea as putting “Christmas in the Kremlin.” She’s red-baited Bernie Sanders for his support for the Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions back in the 1980s. Clinton basically backs not “political realism,” but the more imperial tradition of neoconservative “American exceptionalism,” a chauvinist mindset by which the US sets the political, economic, and military priorities of the world and the places and times of its interventions, sometimes with allied support, sometimes without, at its own discretion.

    • Is Hillary Clinton Above the Law?

      Secretary of State Clinton was harsh on subordinates who were careless with classified information, but those rules apparently weren’t for her, a troubling double standard, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

    • Young Iraqis Overwhelmingly Consider U.S. Their Enemy, Poll Says

      The poll was conducted by Penn Schoen Berland, a public relations and market research firm co-founded by controversial strategist Mark Penn, and was sponsored by a Dubai-based affiliate of Burson Marsteller, once described as “the PR firm for evil.” Still, the undertaking, as outlined by organizers, sounds ambitious. It included 250 face-to-face interviews in three Iraqi cities, plus another 3,250 interviews in 15 other countries throughout the Arab world, all with men and women ages 18-24 “selected to provide an accurate reflection of each nation’s geographic and socio-economic make-up.” It claims an error rate of plus or minus 1.65 percent.

    • Pope Francis Takes On ‘Just War’ Theory

      The Catholic Church, which over the centuries has blessed many dreadful wars, is shifting to an anti-war position favored by Pope Francis and more in line with Jesus’s teachings, writes ex-CIA official Graham E. Fuller.

    • Deadly Myths: Iraq ‘Surge’ General Calls for ‘Surge 2.0’

      There is no question that the neocons in the room, whose lavish sinecures come to them courtesy of the military-industrial complex, were hyperventilating in anticipation of another major US invasion of Iraq (and Syria). War is the greatest DC jobs program and the hits just keep coming.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Lawsuits Charge that 3M Knew About the Dangers of Its Chemicals

      FOR DECADES, 3M was the primary producer of C8, or PFOA, and was the sole producer of a related chemical known as PFOS. But while DuPont was caught up in a massive class-action suit over C8, 3M has largely avoided public scrutiny and serious legal or financial consequences for its role in developing and selling these industrial pollutants.

      In February, however, a state court in Minnesota, where the company is headquartered, allowed a lawsuit against 3M to move forward. And late last year, lawyers filed a class-action suit in Decatur, Alabama, home to one of 3M’s biggest plants. Both lawsuits charge that 3M knew about the health hazards posed by the perfluorinated chemicals it was manufacturing and using to make carpet coating, Scotchgard, firefighting foam, and other products — and that the company knew the chemicals were spreading beyond its sites. With PFCs cropping up in drinking water around the country and all over the world, the two lawsuits raise the possibility that 3M may finally be held accountable in a court of law.

    • WWF: Finland has spent its natural resources for 2016

      The environmental group WWF Finland says that as of today, the country has already used up its share of natural resources for the entire year. Energy production, traffic emissions and food production are the top ills.

    • We Just Crushed The Global Record For Hottest Start Of Any Year

      NASA reports that this was the hottest three-month start (January to March) of any year on record. It beat the previous record — just set in 2015 — by a stunning 0.7°F (0.39°C). Normally, such multi-month records are measured in the hundredths of a degree

      Last month was the hottest February on record by far. It followed the hottest January on record by far, which followed the hottest December by far, which followed the hottest November on record by far, which followed the hottest October on record by far. Some may detect a pattern here.

    • Going out, I found I was really going in: John Muir’s spiritual and political journey

      However, his friends were worried. Muir’s siblings pleaded with him to abandon his “clouds and flowers” for more practical pursuits. “You must be social John,” Jeanne Carr, a transcendentalist friend and spiritual mentor had written him, trying to coax him to leave the mountains and re-enter public life. “I could envy you your solitude, but there may be too much of it.” Carr felt strongly that Muir had a singular gift for carrying the transcendentalist vision of a sacred nature to a wider public, a vision she believed could help to dismantle the industrial consensus that saw nature only as a commercial resource to be exploited.

  • Finance

    • US Corporate Tax Cheats Hiding $1.4 Trillion in Profits in Offshore Accounts

      The biggest tax dodger is technology giant Apple, with $181 billion held offshore. General Electric had the second-largest stash, at $119 billion, enough to repay four times over the $28 billion GE received in federal guarantees during the 2008 Wall Street crash. Microsoft had $108 billion in overseas accounts, with companies like Exxon Mobil, Pfizer, IBM, Cisco Systems, Google, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson rounding out the top ten.

      Overseas tax havens have been the focus of recent revelations about tax scams by wealthy individuals, based on the leak of the “Panama Papers,” documents from a single Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, involving 214,000 offshore shell companies. The firm’s clients included 29 billionaires and 140 top politicians worldwide, among them a dozen heads of government.

    • Paul Krugman Is Proof That To Be Successful Even As An “Objective” Academic You Must Serve The One Percent
    • Bernie Sanders publishes tax returns showing $205,000 earnings following Hillary Clinton’s challenge

      Bernie Sanders has revealed he earns $205,000 dollars (£145,000) a year, after being challenged by Hillary Clinton to publish his tax returns.

      Mr Sanders’ annual income, which is shared with his wife, is less than his multimillionaire rival made for three recent speeches delivered to Goldman Sachs employees.

      The banking giant paid Ms Clinton $675,000 (£475,000) for the appearances. She and her husband have an estimated net worth of $110m (£77m), far surpassing the Sanders, who are worth around $300,000 (£210,000).

    • Hillary’s Bold Plan to Financially Penalize Recidivist Super-Predators

      The other day Hillary promised she would appoint Attorneys General like Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. “I will appoint an Attorney General who will continue the courageous work of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.” Given that the comments came at an Al Sharpton event, I assumed the comment meant to invoke Holder and Lynch’s efforts to reform criminal justice and, presumably, their even more laudable support for civil rights.

      Nevertheless, it was a disturbing comment, given that Holder and Lynch have also both coddled the bankers who crashed our economy. Indeed, when Hillary tries to defend her huge donations from bankers, she always points to Obama’s even huger ones, and insists that there’s no evidence he was influenced by them. But the Obama DOJ record on bank crime is itself the counter to Hillary’s claim those donations didn’t influence the President.

    • 99% Party: Sanders Supporters Shower Clinton Motorcade with 1000 $1 Bills

      Actor George Clooney hosted a couple of obscenely expensive fundraising events for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign on Friday and Saturday nights. 1%er couples needed to pony up $353,400 to buy access. Saturday’s event was at Clooney’s home at 7:00 pm.

      At the same time, Howard Gold, a next-door neighbor of Clooney, hosted a $27 per person fundraiser in support of Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, according to The Hill.

      Gold, whose family founded the 99 Cents Only store chain, called his event the “99% Party.” The email invitation to the 99% party read, “Swimming pools, Movie Stars and merriment for all! This is happening right next door to Clooney’s party for Hillary!” according to The Hill.

    • Here’s a Way to Shut Down Panama Papers-Style Tax Havens — If We Wanted To

      IT WOULD HAVE been infuriating at any time of the year to learn about the massive tax evasion by the global 0.01 percent revealed by the Panama Papers leak. But it’s especially maddening for regular American schlubs to hear about it in April, just as we’re doing our own taxes.

      According to estimates by Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman in his book The Hidden Wealth of Nations, rich individuals and big corporations use various machinations to pay at least a third of a trillion dollars less than they owe every year. For everyone else, this translates directly into higher taxes, more national debt, and less government spending.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Facebook denies that it would ever try to influence the election

      Gizmodo published a screenshot Friday of an internal poll that Facebook employees were purportedly using to decide what questions to ask CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a meeting in March.

    • Like it or not, Mark Zuckerberg is now Silicon Valley’s ambassador to the rest of the world

      The company’s main product announcement, its attempt to turn Messenger into a hub little programs for businesses to chat with customers, was greeted by puzzlement from users and skepticism from the developers who were the main audience for the show.

    • To Protect Hillary Clinton, Democrats Wage War on Their Own Core Citizens United Argument

      FOR YEARS, THE Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Citizens United was depicted by Democrats as the root of all political evil. But now, the core argument embraced by the Court’s conservatives to justify their ruling has taken center stage in the Democratic primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — because Clinton supporters, to defend the huge amount of corporate cash on which their candidate is relying, frequently invoke that very same reasoning.

    • Superdelegates have destroyed the will of the people: As a political activist and hopeful millennial, I won’t support a broken system by voting for Hillary

      Four years ago, I attended a College Democrats conference in Chicago. I set foot inside Obama’s campaign headquarters and felt the enthusiasm about his presidency first-hand. For the first time, I called myself a Democrat with confidence. Democracy empowered me. I wanted to share my enthusiasm with the entire world.

      Throughout my college career, I was actively involved with the College Democrats. I served as president. I recruited friends to attend meetings, volunteer for voter registration drives, petition for candidates, canvass in local neighborhoods and spread the word about upcoming presidential debates. I even formed close relationships with fellow Democrats through it. Civic engagement and active citizenship was my life. I wanted to empower everyone around me to exercise their political power.

      [...]

      In a truly democratic system, we’d have more competent, diverse candidates. Voting no longer provides me the indulgence and satisfaction it once did. I feel it does more harm than good with our current political climate. If I vote for Clinton as a rejection of Trump, or vote for Sanders to dodge a Clinton vote, what duty am I actually performing? When I vote for a president I don’t support, I support a flawed political system. I refuse that system.

    • New York Observer Reporter Who Resigned Over Trump Ties And Endorsement: For Me, “A Line Had Been Crossed”
    • Wall Street Journal Slimes Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Forgets About George W. Bush’s Monumental Blunders

      In an article titled “Islam and the Radical West” published in the Wall Street Journal, columnist Bret Stephens raises the important issue of the radicalization of Western Muslims. But as far as responsible and informed journalism goes, the piece’s credibility ends there. Stephens goes on to make a number of stereotypical and weakly supported claims regarding Islam while taking amateurish pot shots at some of America’s most important thinkers, including Noam Chomsky.

    • Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon

      Beyond sharing this neocon “regime change” obsession, former Secretary of State Clinton also talks like a neocon. One of their trademark skills is to use propaganda or “perception management” to demonize their targets and to romanticize their allies, what is called “gluing white hats” on their side and “gluing black hats” on the other.

    • Meet The Protesters Who Crashed Donald Trump’s Private Event

      Maya Randolph and Aru, who declined to give her last name, were two of the few dozen New Yorkers arrested Thursday evening at a massive protest of Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump. The young women were part of a group of 10 people who were arrested and charged with criminal trespass after they stormed the hotel where Trump was speaking at a private event.

    • Trump Manager Said Apologizing To Reporter He Allegedly Assaulted Would Be ‘Unrealistic’

      Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, refused to apologize on Sunday for his alleged assault of former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields.

    • The Best Reporting on Bernie Sanders Over the Years

      Bernie Sanders became the first socialist mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and ran successfully as an Independent for the House of Representatives and then the Senate. Now, the Democratic challenger to Hillary Clinton has young voters “feeling the Bern.”

      The political career of Bernie Sanders nearly ended before it began. In the early 1970s, he lost his first four races — two for the Senate and two for governor — running on the ticket of Vermont’s radical Liberty Union Party, while espousing positions such as ending the Vietnam War and abolishing the CIA. But when he ran as an Independent for mayor of Burlington in 1981, the socialist Sanders beat the five-term Democratic incumbent.

    • Barack Obama Never Said Money Wasn’t Corrupting; In Fact, He Said the Opposite

      DURING THURSDAY’S DEMOCRATIC debate in Brooklyn, Bernie Sanders asked this question about Hillary Clinton: “Do we really feel confident about a candidate saying that she’s going to bring change in America when she is so dependent on big money interests?”

      Clinton’s response was to invoke Barack Obama. “Make no mistake about it, this is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on President Obama,” she said. “President Obama had a Super PAC when he ran. President Obama took tens of millions of dollars from contributors. And President Obama was not at all influenced when he made the decision to pass and sign Dodd-Frank, the toughest regulations on Wall Street in many a year.”

    • Breaking Up the Banks: Why Sanders is Right

      Now Krugman has always been a defender of the banks and always in denial that banks can be crooked. A few years ago, Iceland had a problem. The banks were very crooked. They controlled the government that was about to give enormous amounts of money to the banks. I had gone over and met with the Prime Minister and former Prime Ministers and convinced them not to pay Britain and the sort of crooked depositors. They hired Krugman at a very high fee and gave him the handouts and he said no, the Icelandic banks are not crooked. Iceland should really bankrupt itself and pay for the Icesave and the British bank affiliates that went under, even though these were not bank branches but bank affiliates.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Online censorship on the rise: Why I prefer to save things offline

      It took me some time to trust the cloud. Growing up with digital technologies that were neither resilient nor reliable — a floppy drive could go kaput without you having done anything, a CD once scratched could not be recovered, hard drives malfunctioned and it was a given that once every few months your PC would crash and need a re-install — I have always been paranoid about making backups and storing information. Once I kicked into my professional years, I developed a foolproof, albeit paranoid, system, where I backed up my machines to a common hard drive, made a mirror image of that hard drive, and for absolutely crucial documents, I would put them on to a separate DVD which would have the emergency documents. It was around 2006, when I discovered the cloud.

      [...]

      Turkey, recently, demanded that German authorities remove a satirical German video titled Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan mocking their President. In response, Germany reminded the Turkish diplomacy of that lovely little thing called freedom of speech, and in the meantime, Extra 3, the group that had released the video on YouTube, added English subtitles to the video. Just for perks. I hope you gave a brownie point to Germany, even as you scrambled to see the video.

    • Decision to hide UAlbany student newspapers ‘inappropriate’

      The decision to hide issues of a student-run newspaper at the University at Albany that called attention to a rise in reported campus sexual assaults — coming during a visit by accepted students — was inappropriate, a top college official said.

    • Silent censorship

      JUST living in Australia for a few months and watching television, makes you see clearly, how the Fiji public is so badly denied by the poverty of Fiji media offerings and silent censorship

      There are wonderful Australian media programs such as Q and A, Insiders, Catalyst, Landline, Insights, Foreign Correspondent, Four Corners, to name just a few, not even mentioning the many specials every week on ABC and SBS.

      Just in the past two months alone, Landline explored how an Australian sugarcane farmer, successfully intercropped rice to pander to his Vietnamese wife. Another intercropped with sunflowers for the seeds and oil, and mung beans (which Fiji farmers have also tried on a very small scale).

    • Soaring Subsidies and Nutritional Censorship Highlight Food Policy Disasters: New at Reason

      Recently, a pair of controversial federal food issues has made the news. The unpredicted increase in USDA farm subsidies and continuing fallout from the new dietary guidelines have captured headlines. They’re worth focusing on together, as they represent some varied and truly awful federal food law and policy.

      Earlier this week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-Tx.) blasted critics of farm subsidies, claiming we live in a “fantasyland” where such subsidies aren’t needed.

    • IHT Retrospective | 1941: Roosevelt Tells Press He Wants No Censorship
    • UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi Told To Resign After Censorship Of Pepper-Spray Google Results

      UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi may be forced to resign after documents were released earlier this week which show the school paying $175,000 of university funds to scrub Google results of references to the 2011 pepper-spray incident.

    • Pepper-sprayed students outraged as UC Davis tried to scrub incident from web

      The California university is being accused of censorship after paying a firm to try to hide references to the incident in which police sprayed protesters in 2011

    • On UC Davis and Erasing Things from the Internet

      This week, I and much of the internet learned that UC Davis paid at least $175,000 to a Maryland firm by the name of Nevis & Associates to disassociate the pepper spray incident of 2011 — in which footage of a campus police officer very casually and callously covering student Occupy protesters with pepper spray at close range was caught on video and disseminated — from both the name of the university and its chancellor in Google search results.

    • From draconian censorship to wilful conformity

      A discussion on Pakistan’s media on Sunday found that the industry, while certainly more independent than years past, is also following dangerous patterns of conformity and is no longer a watchdog for public interest.

      New Delhi-based activist Saif Mahmood moderated a session titled “Media: More Independent, Less Responsible’. He began by quoting an IBA-USAID study where Pakistan’s media was given a responsibility score of 5.46, and an independence score of 5.74, and added that these were reasonably good scores in his opinion.

    • Censorship on films meaningless in internet era

      “Censorship on films is futile in India. There are several other media these days which provide inappropriate content to youngsters for free,” said Bollywood director Sudhir Mishra, who is known for directing critically acclaimed films like Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Dharavi and Chameli.

    • Google refuses to censor search results that identify PJS and YMA

      The British press has played ball, agreeing not to name YMA, his husband PJS and the two others, AB and CD with whom a threesome is supposed to have taken place but it is impossible for law enforcement agencies to control what appears online. Google has been the first port of call for many curious-minded people eager to learn the names of those involved, and the search giant has said that — despite many requests to do so — it will not censor search results that could lead people to the names.

      Spend a little time on Twitter, Facebook, and numerous other websites and it won’t be long before you learn — if you don’t already know — the identities of the four people involved. Web Sheriff is not happy about this, and has requested that Google remove search results in a way that is reminiscent of the Right To Be Forgotten. As noted by Torrent Freak, Web Sheriff is usually associated with copyright-related takedown notices, but now also seeks to remove data that could harmful to reputations.

    • Merkel Vows to Repeal Law, After It Is Used to Prosecute Comic for Insulting Erdogan

      CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL alienated a broad swathe of the German public on Friday by approving a request from Turkey to prosecute Jan Böhmermann, a comedian who insulted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by reading an obscene poem about him on late-night television.

      In the same statement, however, Merkel said that her government would move to repeal the law Böhmermann appears to have violated, an obscure provision of the German penal code that makes it a crime to insult foreign heads of state. If approved, the change would not take effect until 2018.

      In the meantime, Böhmermann now faces possible prosecution both for breaking that law — an artifact of the ancient prohibition on hurting the feelings of monarchs, known as lèse-majesté — and for ordinary defamation, because Erdogan has also filed a separate defamation complaint with a state prosecutor.

    • Hard to satire: Turkey forcing censorship abroad
    • Angela Merkel is now silencing German satirists to please Erdogan. This is what the EU has wrought
    • Erdogan’s attitude to Europe is looking more and more like Putin’s
    • Great Ashby councillor’s campaign over ‘unjust’ censorship

      Terry Tyler, a member of Great Ashby Community Council, says the communications policy he and other members must adhere to is so restrictive it is preventing him from doing his job.

      The policy, seen by the Comet, says ‘correspondence with the public from individual councillors should be avoided’ and states ‘the clerk should clear all comments to the media with the chair of the council’.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Trade Secrets: who voted what

      As expected, the European Parliament approved the Trade Secrets Protection directive by a large majority (503 in favour vs. 131 against).

    • Why Has The World Forgotten Islamic State’s Female Sex Slaves?

      Twenty months ago the Islamic State (ISIS) abducted thousands of Yezidi women and girls as the extremist group swept through their villages in northern Iraq in the middle of a terrible summer. Many were forced to become sex slaves for the group’s fighters. Hundreds remain enslaved and many of those who have escaped are still reliving the trauma and often not getting the help they desperately need.

    • Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

      Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

      Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

    • Confessions of a Former Torturer

      [...] Sleep deprivation, as I’ve said before, can be accomplished in a matter of hours. You can let someone go to sleep in a dark room with no windows, and you can wake them up in 15 or 20 minutes. They have no idea how long they’ve been asleep. And with no windows, they have no idea what time of day it is. You can let them go back to sleep, and you can wake them up in 20 minutes. They still have no idea. And they’ve since—within 45 minutes, they’ve lost all sense of time. Two or three hours later, you can convince this person that he’s been living for four or five days, when it’s really only been an hour.

    • The Telegram Criticising Bush That Got Me Sacked

      As this blog is now read daily by tens of thousands of people who had not heard of me before, some idea of where I come from might be in order. After a diplomatic career of rapid promotion (senior civil service age 36, my first Ambassadorship in Uzbekistan age 42) my opposition to Bush/Blair’s immoral and counter-productive foreign policy got me sacked.

      This telegram (diplomatic communications are called that; cable in the USA) I am with retrospect very proud to have sent. To have made at the time the observation that the Bush/Blair policy of invasion, oppression and torture would not suppress fundamentalism, but would create it, was prescient. I should say I understood very well I would be sacked. Some things are worth being sacked for.

      On provenance, after being kicked out I typed this up from my handwritten draft which I had in my briefcase; hence it does not carry the identifiers it would gain when sent. I assure you it is genuine, and by now I expect it should be obtainable under a Freedom of Information request. If someone makes one I would be grateful – the date on it is the day I wrote it, it might have got sent a day or two later, so give them a range.

    • Green Party proposes prosecuting Northern Irish men under the abortion laws for ‘reckless conception’

      The Deputy Leader of the Green Party for Northern Ireland has suggested making “reckless conception” a criminal offence for men “in the interests of equality”

    • Iraqi Man Removed From Southwest Flight For Speaking Arabic

      While on the plane, he called his uncle to tell him about the dinner and ended the phone call by saying “inshallah” — a common term used in Arabic that translates to “God willing.” But after he hung up, he noticed a female passenger eyeing him suspiciously. The passenger reported Makhzoomi, who was then removed from the flight and searched.

    • Student Thrown Off Flight After Passenger Heard Him Say ‘God Willing’ in Arabic

      So once again people from The World’s Most Frightened Country (C) fully overreacted to nothing. One of the 230 million people worldwide who speak Arabic happened to be on an airplane and happened to use one of the most common expressions in his language.

      [...]

      Makhzoomi explained he was talking on the phone with his uncle and, as he said goodbye, he used the phrase “inshallah,” which translates as “if God is willing.” The student said that after hung up, he noticed a female passenger looking at him who then got up and left her seat.

      Moments later an airport employee made Makhzoomi step off the plane into the arms of security officers. Makhzoomi was told the woman thought he said “Shahid,” meaning martyr. Because in-shal-lah and sha-hid sound the same, at least to a dumb ass who speaks no apparent Arabic and likely learned the term shahid when it was last mispronounced on AM talk radio.

    • Racial Justice Takes Center Stage in New York Primary

      AS IT HAS grown in volume and influence, the movement reaffirming the value of black lives has raised its cry for racial justice from the streets and the internet to the race for the Democratic nomination, especially in the New York primary, where talk of police accountability, mass incarceration, and structural inequality has become an integral part of the candidates’ pitch to voters.

      At the Democratic debate on Thursday night, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders spoke frankly about racism, with Clinton calling on white people to “recognize that there is systemic racism,” and Sanders again criticizing Clinton’s 1996 comments about “super predators,” saying that “it was a racist term and everyone knew it was a racist term.”

      But while competition for the so-called black vote continues to heat up ahead of Tuesday’s primaries, and the generational gap that has defined the primary race persists, members of Black Lives Matter remain determined to keep all candidates in check on matters of race and racism.

    • Are the Economic Pins to the Saudi-US Relationship Still in Place?

      So on the one hand, Obama is making a big show of declassifying the 28 pages. On the other hand, he is lobbying (privately until this NYT report) to ensure that nothing legal will come of the release of those pages.

      It feels kind of like Obama’s treatment of torture, allowing very limited exposure of what happened, all while ensuring there will be no legal accountability (legal accountability, I’d add, that would threaten to expose others higher up in the US executive branch; and note that while the Administration is permitting a lawsuit of James Mitchell and Bruce Jesson, I’m skeptical this well get very far either).

      Against this background, the Saudis are trying to negotiate an oil freeze to bring up prices, but apparently have delayed doing so, ostensibly because of rising animosity with Iran but also, analysts suggest, to hurt US capacity.

    • Bernie Sanders: US “Can’t Be Blackmailed” by Saudi Arabia

      “It’s stunning to think that our government would back the Saudis over its own citizens,” said Mindy Kleinberg, whose husband died in the World Trade Center on September 11.

    • Obama Appeases Saudi Head-Choppers

      Do we have a more unattractive “ally” than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? In order to find one, we have to go all the way back to World War II, when the US was allied with the Soviet Union while “Uncle” Joe Stalin was murdering millions in the gulag.

    • George Clooney Bemoans Big-Money Politics After Hosting Big-Ticket Fundraisers for Clinton (Video)

      Hollywood star and Democratic Party booster George Clooney pulled off a clever script-flipping trick on Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press.” When confronted with Bernie Sanders’ recent critique of the cost required to attend the two fundraisers he and his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, hosted over the weekend for Hillary Clinton in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, Clooney completely agreed with it.

    • George Clooney on Hillary Clinton Event: ‘There Is a Difference Between the Koch Brothers and Us’
    • Over 7,800 Prosecutions Questioned After NJ Lab Tech Caught Faking Drug Test Results

      If Shah wasn’t concerned about putting a possibly innocent person behind bars, it’s unlikely his yearly salary of $101,039 would have been much of a motivating factor for better work either. It could be that this was an isolated incident — the one time Shah cut corners to increase throughput. (Which, truth be told, is kind of how our entire criminal justice system operates: throughput is preferable to diligent effort.)

      But odds are that if Shah got caught, it’s something that happened eventually, rather than immediately. Bad habits are easy to develop and tend to spiral out of control until the inevitable happens. There’s no way to tell if this was a one-off. Conversely, there’s no way to positively state this didn’t happen all the time. Hence the thousands of criminal cases now being viewed as questionable.

    • The Bernie Sanders Miracle: American Crowd in Brooklyn Cheers Palestinian Dignity

      The Israeli propaganda line is that the Palestinians are natural, intrinsic terrorists who are always attacking Israelis out of blind hatred for Jews and who casually deploy terrorism on a mass scale and refuse to recognize the inexorability and naturalness of several million European and North African and other Jews living in Palestine.

    • Arab-Americans, including ‘Watan’ Newspaper, Endorse Bernie Sanders

      It notes that Sanders’s demand for even-handedness in US policy toward Israel and Palestine is unusual in the Democratic Party.

    • ‘I have a conscience’: the Wall Streeters fighting for Bernie Sanders in New York

      He may be an investment banker himself, but Ryan prefers Sanders’ pledge to begin breaking up the banks in his first 100 days in the White House over Clinton’s more indirect promises.

      “She has a thousand talking points, but when the lights are turned off and all the glare of the election fades, politics-as-normal will return, the lobbyists will get to work, and nothing at all will happen,” he said.

      Frank, still speaking anonymously, agrees. “Hillary Clinton is paying lip-service to Wall Street changes. Maybe in her heart she means business, but for me income inequality is the civil rights issue of our time, and I feel strongly we need a president who is totally committed to making this happen.”

    • ACLU Sues Bureau of Prisons Over Missing Torture Documents

      The ACLU lawsuit alleges that either the bureau conducted an inadequate search, or is illegally denying the existence of documents.

    • Liberals for Hillary: There is Nothing Stranger

      Meanwhile, since the 1960s, when African Americans secured the right to vote in practice, not just theory, Republicans have been recruiting displaced and alienated white voters into their ranks, taking advantage of racist and nativist animosities, and anything else that they could put to use.

    • I Feel a Political Revolution Coming

      The media often would like us to believe that Sanders’ promises to continue his quest for equality are too lofty and unrealistic, and even impossible. Is it really impossible to treat Black people like humans instead of just votes? Is it really so impossible to make an investment in our students instead of the $17 billion the Clintons invested in police, military grade weapons and prisons? Is it really impossible to invest in the healthcare of the American people instead of the $26 billion wasted training foreign armies under Clinton as Secretary of State? Is it really impossible to demand transparency from our police departments and our criminal justice system in an effort to bring life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to fruition once and for all? Is it really impossible to take the necessary steps to get more teachers and counselors in our schools instead of labeling them super predators and putting them on the school to prison pipeline?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Working on HTML5.1

      HTML5 was released in 2014 as the result of a concerted effort by the W3C HTML Working Group. The intention was then to begin publishing regular incremental updates to the HTML standard, but a few things meant that didn’t happen as planned. Now the Web Platform Working Group (WP WG) is working towards an HTML5.1 release within the next six months, and a general workflow that means we can release a stable version of HTML as a W3C Recommendation about once per year.

    • Obama Urges Opening Cable TV Boxes To Competition

      President Obama is throwing his weight behind a plan that would lead to competition in the market for set-top cable and satellite TV boxes. Most viewers now rent the boxes from their TV providers. The Federal Communications Commission wants to make it easier for viewers to buy the devices.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Say the Truth About the US Patent System, Get Attacked by the Patent Propaganda Machine (Disguised as Press)

Posted in America, Patents at 6:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

His only ‘crime’ (which brought/attracted publicity punishment) is that he sought patent reform

Darrell Issa
Photo in the public domain, via Wikipedia

Summary: Darrell Issa (photographed above) comes under attacks from boosters of software patents, apologists of patent trolls (often funded by them), and patent maximalists because he correctly insinuated that (most) plaintiffs are like patent trolls in the United States

In the US, a lot of plaintiffs are patent trolls. These patent trolls use software patents that would be ruled invalid if brought before the courts. There’s no denying it, just look at the widely available statistics and then consider money extracted outside the courts (like ‘protection money’) and without the media even being informed (secrecy demanded by the racketeer). The USPTO keeps granting twice as many patents as one decade ago. No quality control seems to be in place, at least no effective control of quality (92% of applications wind up being accepted). These new figures from Patently-O, which cover a particular kind of patents, reinforce this. They completely reaffirm or fit the pattern and as IP Kat has just put it, “the patent system is inimical to innovative activity, at a time where innovation is seen as in decline.”

“These patent trolls use software patents that would be ruled invalid if brought before the courts.”The US patent system is now dominated more by parasites than by innovators. It’s a real issue. But those who insinuate this or ‘dare’ to point it out come under severe attacks, especially if they’re influential. Blowhard Gene Quinn (whom we often called WatchTroll for various reasons) leads the pack in these attacks.

“Congressman Issa calls patent trolls and plaintiffs interchangeable during ITC hearing,” he wrote in Twitter, linking to an article with the same headline. This whole article is based on a small spoken portion which said, “for purposes of my opening statement ‘plaintiff’ and ‘troll’ will be interchangeable.”

This seems like convenient framing for abbreviation when time is limited (a hearing), but watch how far Gene Quinn took this, defending the ITC’s embargo policies and defending patent trolls by targeting Darrell Issa, i.e. the messenger. These are the expected personal attacks on him from Quinn (for ‘hypocrisy’), in the same way he attacked Mark Cuban (over Vringo investment), who’s trying to demolish software patents.

“The US patent system is now dominated more by parasites than by innovators.”“Finally we get the truth,” IAM wrote (Gene Quinn being praised by IAM says a lot about IAM). “According to reform proponents a patent troll is any entity that seeks to enforce a patent” (because patent maximalists, propagandists, and proponents of software patents have agenda, which includes top enforcers of software patents, namely patent trolls).

Soon to join the above was a Bristows [1, 2] employee (UPC and software patents booster) who wrote: The Subcommittee is Chaired by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), who has been an outspoken advocate for the need for more patent reform in order to provide relief from those he believes are abusing the patent litigation system — those sometimes called patent trolls. Indeed, from the start of the Thursday’s hearing, the debate regarding patent infringement at the ITC was couched in the language of the patent troll debate. For example, during his opening statement Congressman Issa rather imperiously stated: “for purposes of my opening statement ‘plaintiff’ and ‘troll’ will be interchangeable.”

“There is an agenda to drive and combing/cherry-picking the words of this agenda’s antagonists is a commonly-used tool.”The strategy of nitpicking a brief statement (where brevity was achieved in the above-stated fashion) is rather common these days. There is an agenda to drive and combing/cherry-picking the words of this agenda’s antagonists is a commonly-used tool. I frequently saw it done online to incite against Techrights (misrepresentation of the site’s positions).

Incidentally, and not too surprisingly (it was inevitable), IAM ‘magazine’ joins the lobbyist David Kappos (funded by IBM, Microsoft, Apple etc.) in attacking challenges to software patents in the US. To quote an article from this weekend (insisting that “something needs to be done about [section] 101″:

Earlier this week former USPTO Director David Kappos doubled down on his long-time criticism of the recent case law and called for the abolition of 101. Speaking at the Federal Circuit Judicial Conference he reportedly compared the situations in the US with Europe and Asia. “It’s time to abolish Section 101 and the reason I say that is that Europe doesn’t have 101 and Asia doesn’t have 101 and they seem to be doing just fine in constraining patent eligible subject matter,” he commented.

Such is the uncertainty around 101 in both the high tech and biotech fields, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decisions in a series of cases including Alice Corp v CLS Bank and Mayo v Prometheus, that Kappos’s concerns are shared by many patent owners. His worries around 101 have evolved over recent years. On a panel at the AIPLA annual conference in 2014 he claimed that the case law had moved far beyond the original meaning of the statute. He strengthened his arguments in a speech he gave at the LeadershIP event in 2015 when he noted that despite the uncertainty, 101 reform did not feature in the debates around patent legislation.

IAM is a mouthpiece for patent lawyers, large corporations that rely on software patents, and basically those who are paying IAM. Megaphone for those interests is what IAM has become. It’s not a news site. It’s agenda dressed up as ‘news’.

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