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Caricature: Team Battistelli’s UPC Strategy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Saving the Unitary Patent”

EPO's UPC strategy

Summary: The EPO’s UPC strategy as told with the help of cartoons

Caricature: EPO ‘Voting’ When All Votes Are Equal Irrespective of Country’s Size

Posted in Europe, Humour, Patents at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO voting

Summary: How ‘democracy’ works in the EPO these days

Input from reader:


13 YES: MC, RO, CY, DK, LT, FI, LU, AL, BE, BG, LV, SE, HR;

8 NO: IT, CH, IE, NL, AT, PL, NO, FR;



[in case you did not have that info]


Microsoft Loves Linux Patent Tax

Posted in America, Microsoft, Patents at 12:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wanting to eat Linux (and Linux revenue) for breakfast…

Breakfast of love

Summary: Some of the latest reports pertaining to Microsoft’s (and its patent trolls’) pursuit/lobbying for software patents at a time when such patents lose their appeal/lustre in the United States

SOFTWARE PATENTS are still possible to attain at the USPTO, but this does not mean — and is certainly no guarantee — that courts or even boards (like PTAB) will tolerate these. In fact, both often reject these and this reduces the incentive to pursue software patents in the first place.

“They want software patents restored so that they can carry on blackmailing software companies (usually with Linux/Android) at greater ease.”Watchtroll offers tips for overcoming the barriers to software patenting, having come to grips with the fact that at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) almost no software patents survive (one can count this year’s exceptions on the fingers of one hand).

As noted here the other day, based on two reports, Microsoft and its trolls continue trying to undermine the new rules. They want software patents restored so that they can carry on blackmailing software companies (usually with Linux/Android) at greater ease. According to this new report about Microsoft’s biggest troll:

Earlier this week, Intellectual Ventures (IV) petitioned the full Federal Circuit to review the panel opinion in Intellectual Ventures v. Symantec, which invalidated two of its patents under section 101. Both patents—the ’050 and the ’610—are directed to filtering email or file content. (IV does not challenge the invalidation of a third patent, which was directed to receiving, screening, and distributing email.) The petition echoes concerns raised by clients, courts, and the patent bar about the growing uncertainty about what is—and what is not—patent eligible, especially in the area of software patents. Identifying two emerging fault lines in the court’s evolving section 101 jurisprudence, IV urges the full court to bring much needed doctrinal clarity and methodological consistency to the patent eligibility analysis.

It’s important to keep track of this case.

Microsoft’s and Bill Gates’ (personal connections) patent troll now pressures CAFC to kowtow to software patents while the media keeps telling us that Microsoft loves Linux so much. We don’t suppose the Linux Foundation cares to comment on Microsoft’s own lobbying for software patents (directly, not just by proxy). It’s an Inconvenient truth when the Linux Foundation gets paid not to understand, having received Microsoft money for a while now [1, 2, 3]. Here is what Simon Phipps (head of OSI for a long time) wrote about the Linux Foundation’s decision to join Microsoft the other day:

“Microsoft’s and Bill Gates’ (personal connections) patent troll now pressures CAFC to kowtow to software patents while the media keeps telling us that Microsoft loves Linux so much.”Another odd ‘friend’ of Linux, a company that is attacking small companies using software patents while lobbying for software patents and spreading proprietary software, is mentioned in the news today. IBM’s Manny Schecter is trying to find some balance between secrecy and software patents and we sure hope that he’ll quit his stance on software patents as it often makes IBM look almost as hostile as Microsoft.

‘“Other than Bill Gates, I don’t know of any high tech CEO that sits down to review the company’s IP portfolio” —Marshall Phelps (of IBM and Microsoft)

China’s Shot in Its Own Foot Repeats the United States’ Error on Software Patents

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, Patents at 11:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ancient Chinese tablet

Summary: Chinese policy on software patents and the acceptance of patent trolling is bad news not just for China but for companies everywhere, as they too become vulnerable to trolls and to Chinese companies that file cases in the West

NOT ONLY the EPO and USPTO wrestle with the question of software patenting, as we last noted in our previous post. According to this new article (behind paywall), “US-based IP owners [read trolls] to look to Europe as a place they can get better, more effective rights,” Benjamin Henrion wrote today.

“It’s a real problem and it can destroy what’s left of Europe’s software industry (discouraging development and/or investment).”We have been warning about this for a while and we already see patent trolls coming to the UK, emboldened by the EPO’s bad policies. It’s a real problem and it can destroy what’s left of Europe’s software industry (discouraging development and/or investment). Do we want London to become another EDTX?

Texas, based on this new tweet, attracts ‘business’ like patent lawsuits. By not serving justice but instead serving trolls and aggressors it now welcomes ‘business’ from Asia. “Hitachi filed patent suits in EDTX v Huawei and ZTE,” IP Hawk wrote and IAM commented on it as follows: “Japanese company takes on Chinese companies in EDTX. Can’t happen very often.”

IAM is both a proponent of patent trolls and a tracker of them in east Asia as of late (many articles about it, some of which we wrote about before). China/Far East trolls are a growing problem also for Western companies because some large Chinese firms already take their lawsuits to EDTX (Texas) and demand a lot of money. China’s state-connected telecom ‘arm’, Huawei, reportedly liaises with a large patent troll, InterDigital, which we covered here before (even a decade ago). To quote IAM’s article: “When Huawei and InterDigital revealed that they had entered into a broad worldwide licensing agreement recently, it brought to an end a years-long dispute over standard-essential patents that at times had been rather ugly. Now, relations between the two companies couldn’t be more different as they look to partner on future research and development efforts – and, potentially, on monetising patents, too.”

“Why is China doing this after working to expose Microsoft’s patents that had been used to extort Android device makers across China?”The trolls epidemic sure spreads fast in China this year. “Enemies no more,” one person wrote, “patents bring InterDigital &Huawei together. Consequences could be significant.”

It’s especially important if one considers what kind of patent these are. Henrion says “no glory for the trolls.” However, for them it’s quite a win and definitely more glory (when the giant of China gives legitimacy to a such a giant troll). This gigantic deal will probably help InterDigital go after a lot more companies, even in China.

Why is China doing this after working to expose Microsoft’s patents that had been used to extort Android device makers across China? Well, China seems eager to destroy the progress it made by letting SIPO off the hook, pursuing just quantity (not quality) of patents, very much like Battistelli at the EPO.

This new article by Peter Leung was publishes yesterday and said “China Looks to Boost Protection for Software Patents”. Have they made it official now? To quote Bloomberg:

A draft revision to China’s patent examination guidelines released late last month will likely make it easier to get software and business method patents.

Other proposed changes to ease the standard for amending granted patent claims should also help patent holders and, especially, patent assertion entities, practitioners say.

The draft guidelines follow developments that some have interpreted as evidence of China’s maturing and improving environment for IP owners. The guidelines are not law but rules for instructing examiners at China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) on how to properly examine patent applications.

It’s hard to see what China has to gain from this; SIPO definitely gets more power and money, but at whose expense? Moreover, why has SIPO not learned no lessons from the USPTO’s mea culpa?

Crisis at the EPO Deepens as Dutch Parliament Dives in, European Parliament Snubbed by EPO Management, and Battistelli Relies on ‘High Corruption’ States

Posted in Europe, Patents at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The EPO is going nowhere fast

Road going nowhere

Summary: New problems for the EPO, another new example of EPO defying Parliamentary instructions and laws, and an update about the UPC, which makes progress nowhere but countries that recently received ‘gifts’ from Battistelli

THE situation at the EPO is growingly chaotic (whereas the USPTO is rather stable). It’s not because of an erratic workforce but because of an insane management style. “Fired?” one person asks about the President of the EPO today. “If the article is correct, he should be imprisoned.” Well, Battistelli won’t be imprisoned, not just because the EPO is effectively above the law but because rich and well-connected people tend to be exempted from such laws. As we noted here before, Battistelli is close to Nicolas Sarkozy, who got away with corruption and has thankfully just lost the opportunity to seize power again. Some readers wrote to us about it.

The article from which we extract this comment was published this morning and said:

Fallout from Euro Patent Office meltdown reaches Dutch parliament

The extraordinary meltdown at the European Patent Office (EPO) has started to draw political attention, with the Dutch parliament planning a debate on the organization and its ongoing problems.

Socialist member of the Netherlands Parliament, MP Sharon Gesthuizen, received strong backing to her request for the debate following the dismissal of a key EPO staff member earlier this month by EPO president Benoit Battistelli, and a majority of MPs have now supported the motion.

As a result, the Dutch government is expected to draw up a formal response about the EPO and its view on recent events.

The debate is an escalation of a long-running battle at the patent office that has seen Battistelli suspend several prominent members of its staff union, as well as a member of the Boards of Appeal, for blocking his reform efforts and for criticizing his heavy-handed efforts to force them through.

This has been known for a while and it was possibly Techrights which was first to report it about a week ago. “It’s hard to believe this is still on-going,” one person wrote. “This is well past the stage of “He might be doing the right thing”. Now, he’s taking the piss. Batelli needs fired imo.”

The thugs who run the EPO already give the EU a bad name and one commenter weighed in to point out the same old fact: “Please note that the EPO is quite separate from the EU. Different organisation, different treaties, some differences in member states.”

Does the EU/EC realise just how much damage the EPO is doing to it?

According to this new observation from Benjamin Henrion (FFII), “EPO explains how they keep granting software patents with their “further technical effect”” (link to new PDF from the EPO omitted for privacy reasons).

Indeed, based on our fast assessment, in page 22 and thereabouts the EPO makes it abundantly clear that it snubs the EU Parliament on the subject of software patents, which are supposed to be banned in Europe.

Earlier today the EPO promoted its pro-software patents event in another country where software patents are not even legal. How crooked does the EPO hope to appear worldwide? Also today the EPO pushed out there what it called “facts”. These are not “facts” but disgusting propaganda and lies from the EPO and EUIPO, as foreseen as long as a month ago and debunked repeatedly since.

As I pointed out to Henrion the other day, when the EPO says “no comment” these days it’s actually an improvement because whenever it makes a statement this year it’s almost always filled with lies. Distortion of the truth has become the norm at the EPO (management) and reports of cosmetic changes at the EPO this week overlook the fact that not many stakeholders will still pursue EPs after the current crisis (not at these prices/fees anyway).

Speaking of crookedness under Battistelli, recall what happens in Lithuania when it comes to patents and what Battistelli did in Lithuania at a very strategic time. According to this new update on the UPC (going nowhere without the UK), Lithuania is still acting like a Battistelli “yes man”:

A bill on ratification of the UPC Agreement and a bill on the establishment of a Nordic-Baltic regional division of the UPC were approved on 3 Novermber 2017. They will enter into force on 1 July 2017, according to the website of the Lithuanian IPO. Before that time, amendments to the patent law of Lithuania will have to be adopted. These have already been submitted to the parliament.

What a total waste of time. The UPC in its current form isn’t going to happen. But if one believes the lies from Battistelli and the EPO, then it looks achievable.

Links 22/11/2016: Many Linux Stable Releases, GTK+ 3.89.1

Posted in News Roundup at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • Finding a Non-Mac Alternative to Microsoft

      A. If you do not care for Windows 10 but want to stick with Microsoft Office, the Mac and the macOS version of Office would probably provide the most familiarity. But if the Mac option is too expensive and you dislike Windows 10 enough to avoid it completely, you might consider switching to an alternative operating system, like a computer running Linux or a Google Chromebook. These systems often have the advantage of being less expensive than standard PC or Mac hardware, but they may require an internet connection to perform many functions.

  • Server

    • [Older] The End of the General Purpose Operating System

      Containers as the unit of software

      Hidden behind my hypothosis, which mainly went unsaid, was that containers are becoming the unit of software. By which I mean the software we build or buy will increasingly be distributed as containers and run as containers. The container will carry with it enough metadata for the runtime to determine what resources are required to run it.

      The number of simplying assumption that come from this shared contract should not be underestimated. At least at the host level you’re likely to need lots of near-identical hosts, all simply advertising their capabilities to the container scheduler.

    • DatArcs Is Aiming For Dynamically-Tuned, Self-Optimizing Linux Servers

      DatArcs is a new software start-up aiming to provide software to dynamically tune Linux servers for maximum performance and energy efficiency in the data-center. The DatArcs optimizer analyzes the server’s workload over time and optimizes the server “several times per minute” to achieve better performance or lower power use.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • A tale of cylinders and shadows

        Like I wrote before, we at Collabora have been working on improving WebKitGTK+ performance for customer projects, such as Apertis. We took the opportunity brought by recent improvements to WebKitGTK+ and GTK+ itself to make the final leg of drawing contents to screen as efficient as possible. And then we went on investigating why so much CPU was still being used in some of our test cases.

      • Code review in open source projects: Influential factors and actions
      • GNOME Days in Bucharest

        From Wednesday up to Saturday we had the pleasure of hosting some very interesting events related to GNOME and open-source.

        First of them was the GSoC presentation where previous GSoC students shared their experience with those eager to try it next summer. We had a lot of people interested, thus we nearly filled a whole amphitheater.

      • This week in GTK+ – 25
      • GTK+ 3.89.1 Released As First Development Step Towards GTK4

        Matthias Clasen tagged the release today of GTK+ 3.89.1 as the first development snapshot leading towards GTK+ 4.0.

      • GTK+ 3.22.4 Improves CPU Usage Under Wayland, Enables HiDPI Support on Windows

        A new maintenance update for the GTK+ GUI (Graphical User Interface) toolkit has been announced this past weekend, versioned 3.22.4, bringing many Wayland improvements and lots of bug fixes.

        GTK+ 3.22.4 is now the latest stable and most advanced version of the GUI toolkit, which is the core of the GNOME desktop environment. This version is released for the GNOME 3.22.x desktop series, and it looks like it adds many improvements for the next-generation Wayland display server.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Endless OS 3.0.5

        Endless OS is a Linux-based operating system which seeks to provide a streamlined, simplified user experience. A large part of the user experience is provided by a custom desktop environment (EOS Shell) which is a fork of GNOME 3.8. The distribution is available in two editions, a 1.5GB Basic edition and a larger (approximately 13GB) Full edition. The Basic edition offers a small number of applications and is suitable for most situations where the user has an Internet connection. The Full edition ships with a large collection of software and is therefore more suited to off-line installations.

        The Endless OS website mentions that support for audio formats, such as OGG and MP3, are built into the operating system, but most video formats are not supported. Video codecs and Netflix support are available for purchase through the Endless on-line store.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Kubuntu Cautiously Good, openSUSE 42.2 Upgrade Smooth

        Today in Linux news, the Fedora project discussed some upcoming features in version 25, headed up by GNOME 3.22. Dedoimedo test drove Kubuntu 16.10 and found Plasma to be its greatest shortcoming, mirroring what I thought of the latest openSUSE. Speaking of which, Neil Rickert blogged his thoughts on the openSUSE 42.2 experience and Jim Dean imparted a bit of information for Korora users.


        As I read the Kubuntu review, I was struck by how much his Plasma experience mirrored my own while testing openSUSE 42.2 this weekend. Konsole crashed on me early on when it was just sitting there idle. WTH? The taskbar pop-ups are large, ugly, and intrusive. The menu is slow and the desktop applets don’t fit properly. For example, the weather applet is scrunched up and cut off with no window size adjustment available. There are very few applets and, most annoying, no dictionary app/applet! And, indeed, that new screenshot tool was very disappointing, cumbersome and awkward. The desktop as a whole was sluggish and jittery. I was considering openSUSE 42.2 as my next full-time workhorse, but alas, Plasma 5(.8.2) is still too rough and incomplete to use. openSUSE 42.2 itself is gorgeous from boot to reboot, but Plasma 5 just ruins it.

      • Fedora & openSUSE: what is common in the latest releases?

        The second half of November brought us two exciting new Linux distribution releases: openSUSE Leap 42.2 and Fedora 25. While both of them are based on the RPM packaging format and cover everything from embedded through desktops to servers, there are also considerable differences.

      • The transition to openSUSE Leap 42.2

        I downloaded the DVD installer, using “aria2c”. I then “burned” that to a USB. I then booted that USB to install on my main desktop.

        This was a clean install. I kept the previous 42.1 on a separate disk area. That way I can boot either.

        After installing, I was switching between 42.1 and 42.2. I needed to tweak the new install to suit my needs. And booting to 42.1 allowed me to get my work done. By Thursday, I had completed the switch, and I am now running 42.2.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Great Debian meeting in Seville

        Last week we had an interesting Debian meeting in Seville, Spain. This has been the third time (in recent years) the local community meets around Debian.

        We met at about 20:00 at Rompemoldes, a crafts creation space. There we had a very nice dinner while talking about Debian and FLOSS. The dinner was sponsored by the Plan4D assosiation.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • How to Create Bullet Proof Ubuntu Install

            Installing Ubuntu is an extremely simple process. If you can “read and click next,” setting up a new Ubuntu installation is actually quite easy. But once the distro is installed, how do you keep the data safe? – By creating a bullet proof installation. This article will share my approach to protecting your data while allowing you to restore to a working system should the unthinkable happen.

          • In brief: Canonical hires Wildfire for Ubuntu Core brief, Dexcom appoints Lewis, Wild West enters Bristol
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Cinnamon 3.2 released!

              On behalf of the team and all the developers who contributed to this build, I am proud to announce the release of Cinnamon 3.2!

            • Cinnamon 3.2 Desktop Officially Released
            • Zorin OS 12 Is A Linux-Based Alternative For Windows 10

              We understand that it can be difficult to wean yourself off Windows. It’s a ubiquitous operating system that most people are used to. But Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10 has had some persistent privacy concerns. So if you’re looking for an alternative but can’t bear to give up the familiar user interface (UI), you could try out the Linux-based Zorin OS. The latest release is made to look and feel like Windows 10. Here are the details.

              There have been numerous attempts to replicate the Windows UI on Linux operating systems (does anybody remember Lindows?). In recent years, Zorin OS has become a popular choice for those who want to run Linux but didn’t’ want to give up the Windows UI.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Trends in the Open Source Cloud: A Shift to Microservices and the Public Cloud

    Cloud computing is the cornerstone of the digital economy. Companies across industries now use the cloud — private, public or somewhere in between — to deliver their products and services.

    A recent survey of industry analysis and research that we conducted for our 2016 Guide to the Open Cloud report produced overwhelming evidence of this.

    Forty-one percent of all enterprise workloads are currently running in some type of public or private cloud, according to 451 Research. That number is expected to rise to 60 percent by mid-2018. And Rightscale reports that some 95 percent of companies are at least experimenting in the cloud. Enterprises are continuing to shift workloads to the cloud as their expertise and experience with the technology increases.

  • How to strengthen your agile heartbeat with powerful retrospectives
  • Python versus R for machine learning and data analysis

    Machine learning and data analysis are two areas where open source has become almost the de facto license for innovative new tools. Both the Python and R languages have developed robust ecosystems of open source tools and libraries that help data scientists of any skill level more easily perform analytical work.

    The distinction between machine learning and data analysis is a bit fluid, but the main idea is that machine learning prioritizes predictive accuracy over model interpretability, while data analysis emphasizes interpretability and statistical inference. Python, being more concerned with predictive accuracy, has developed a positive reputation in machine learning. R, as a language for statistical inference, has made its name in data analysis.

  • Geode: The Latest Apache Big Data Project to Graduate to Top-Level Status

    In recent months, we’ve steadily taken note of the many projects that the Apache Software Foundation has been elevating to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent times. As Apache moves Big Data projects to Top-Level Status, they gain valuable community support. Only days ago, the foundation announced that Apache Kudu had graduated as a Top-Level project.

  • Open Source Week at SitePoint

    At SitePoint, we are proud supporters of Open Source. Regular SitePoint readers may have noticed that! Open is in the DNA of many topics we cover by design; GitHub alone is evidence enough, as it’s pretty much a standard tool for most developers nowadays.

  • Education

    • Education management with Moodle: The beginning, middle, and today

      Moodle is the de facto standard in open source learning management systems. It is described as “a learning platform designed to provide educators, administrators and learners with a single robust, secure and integrated system to create personalised learning environments.” Plus, Moodle is free software, licensed under the GPL.

      Martin Dougiamas, Moodle’s founder and lead developer, generously took time from his busy schedule to have a good, long talk with me about why he created it, where it is today, and what’s next in open education.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • The “open” in France has moved forward

      “Things have changed. I believe that this government can be credited with being the one that has carried more than ever the stake of the Open in our country”, said Axelle Lemaire, France’s Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs, at the Paris Open Source Summit 2016, last week

    • Free software in administrations: sharing IT requirements is complicated

      Pooling resources is in the DNA of free software, yet French local administrations fail to group their software purchases.

    • Hackathons and bite-sized procurement requests

      Public administrations that want to work with open source communities should organise hackathons and other meetings on software development. They should also publish calls for tender that can be answered by individuals and small businesses. These are some preliminary recommendations from the OSOR workshop at the Paris Open Source Summit last Wednesday.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Last batch of ColorHugALS

        I’ve got 9 more ColorHugALS devices in stock and then when they are sold they will be no more for sale. With all the supplier costs going recently up my “sell at cost price” has turned into “make a small loss on each one” which isn’t sustainable. It’s all OpenHardware, both hardware design and the firmware itself so if someone wanted to start building them for sale they would be doing it with my blessing. Of course, I’m happy to continue supporting the existing sold devices into the distant future.

  • Programming/Development

    • Programmers are having a huge discussion about the unethical and illegal things they’ve been asked to do

      Earlier this week, a post written by programmer and teacher Bill Sourour went viral. It’s called “Code I’m Still Ashamed Of.”

      In it he recounts a horrible story of being a young programmer who landed a job building a website for a pharmaceutical company. The whole post is worth a read, but the upshot is he was duped into helping the company skirt drug advertising laws in order to persuade young women to take a particular drug.

      He later found out the drug was known to worsen depression and at least one young woman committed suicide while taking it. He found out his sister was taking the drug and warned her off it.


  • Facebook Finds More Broken Metrics, Metrics Industry Rejoices

    Well, one thing is clear: fixing Facebook metrics is going to be a huge boon… for the metrics and marketing industries. Big new contracts for metrics companies! Executive jobs on Facebook’s new council! A new strut to prop up the ersatz monster of Nielsen ratings! Millions of dollars will be spent fixing and refining these metrics — which Facebook emphasizes are only four of over 220 it collects. Wow, 220! But online advertising still almost universally sucks, so you’d almost think the quantity of metrics isn’t helping, and might even be optimizing in the wrong direction…

  • New Cars Are Getting Harder To See Out Of

    Citizens of the internet, we need to speak on a subject. Call me old fashioned, but one of the things I look for most in any car is the ability to see out of it when I’m driving it. It doesn’t seem like the designers of new cars these days share my feelings.

    As I strolled the show floor of the Los Angeles Auto Show during the media days and sat in a bunch of different cars, I was struck by how many of them have abhorrent rearward visibility.

  • Science

    • State says literacy not a right in Detroit

      Attorneys for Gov. Rick Snyder and state education officials say no fundamental right to literacy exists for Detroit schoolchildren who are suing the state over the quality of their education.

      The lawyers are asking a federal judge to reject what they call an “attempt to destroy the American tradition of democratic control of schools.”

      Timothy J. Haynes, an assistant attorney general, made those statements in a 62-page motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against Snyder and state education leaders in September by seven Detroit children who allege decades of state disinvestment and deliberate indifference to the city schools have denied them access to literacy.

      The motion was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

      Haynes says claims laid out by plaintiffs — including deplorable building conditions, lack of books, classrooms without teachers, insufficient desks, buildings plagued by vermin, unsafe facilities and extreme temperatures — go far beyond mere access to education.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • UNAIDS Report: Less Deaths From HIV But Growing Resistance Creates Great Risk

      A new report from UNAIDS shows that antiretroviral therapy is now accessed by 18.2 million people living with HIV, and fewer people are dying from the virus infection. However, there is stalled progress on HIV prevention among adults, and growing antiretroviral drug resistance among people living with HIV over a long time.

      The UNAIDS report [pdf] released today is titled, “Get on the Fast-Track,” and addresses the life-cycle approach to HIV. It looks into differences of prevention, treatments and access in different ages.

    • Michigan’s Water Wars: Nestlé Pumps Millions of Gallons for Free While Flint Pays for Poisoned Water

      As Flint residents are forced to drink, cook with and even bathe in bottled water, while still paying some of the highest water bills in the country for their poisoned water, we turn to a little-known story about the bottled water industry in Michigan.

      In 2001 and 2002, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits to Nestlé, the largest water bottling company in the world, to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute from aquifers that feed Lake Michigan.

      This sparked a decade-long legal battle between Nestlé and the residents of Mecosta County, Michigan, where Nestlé’s wells are located.

      One of the most surprising things about this story is that, in Mecosta County, Nestlé is not required to pay anything to extract the water, besides a small permitting fee to the state and the cost of leases to a private landowner. In fact, the company received $13 million in tax breaks from the state to locate the plant in Michigan.

    • Michigan Government Fights Judge’s Ruling to Deliver Water to Residents in Need, Calling it an ‘Unnecessary Burden’

      The Michigan state government is hoping to wiggle its way out of a court-ordered mandate handed down by a judge last week requiring both the city and state to deliver bottled water to Flint residents without verified home water filters.

      In a motion filed earlier this week, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder’s administration argued that the court-ordered requirement placed an ‘”insurmountable” burden on the state. Officials even likened the mandated water deliveries to a “Herculean” military operation that would cost the state government roughly $10.4 million a month and $125 million annually.

    • Nestlé bottled-water company seeks to take more Michigan water

      Nestle Waters North America’s plans to increase its Michigan groundwater withdrawal by more than 2 1/2 times would unravel an accord reached with environmentalists seven years ago that was aimed at protecting the water table and wildlife.

      Nestlé announced a $36-million expansion at its Ice Mountain bottling operations in Stanwood, in Mecosta County, on Oct. 31. The addition of two water-bottling lines — the first to begin operation next spring; the next opening by 2018 — is expected to add 20 jobs to the plant, which employs more than 250 people.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Fast security is the best security

      DevOps security is a bit like developing without a safety net. This is meant to be a reference to a trapeze act at the circus for those of you who have never had the joy of witnessing the heart stopping excitement of the circus trapeze. The idea is that when you watch a trapeze act with a net, you know that if something goes wrong, they just land in a net. The really exciting and scary trapeze acts have no net. If these folks fall, that’s pretty much it for them. Someone pointed out to me that the current DevOps security is a bit like taking away the net.

    • Detecting fraudulent signups?

      I run a couple of different sites that allow users to sign-up and use various services. In each of these sites I have some minimal rules in place to detect bad signups, but these are a little ad hoc, because the nature of “badness” varies on a per-site basis.

    • Reproducible Builds: week 82 in Stretch cycle

      What happened in the Reproducible Builds effort between Sunday November 13 and Saturday November 19 2016…

    • Beware: ScanGuard Scam

      My wife called this to my attention; a web site called “smartwebuser.org” (I refuse to post a link) that warned “If you live in Canada and have a Linux computer which is over 6 months old, then we advise you to keep reading.” What followed was a puff piece for something called ScanGuard. It sounded suspiciously to me like all those “cleanup” apps that are advertised in email and occasionally on TV, that promise to protect your PC from viruses and malware, and make it run a zillion times faster. It sounded like a scam to me.

    • The Urgency of Protecting Your Online Data With Let’s Encrypt

      We understand that online security is a necessity, so why is only 48.5% of online traffic encrypted? Josh Aas, co-founder of Let’s Encrypt, gives us a simple answer: it’s too difficult. So what do we do about it? Aas has answers for that as well in his LinuxCon North America presentation.

      Aas explains how the Achilles heel of managing Web encryption is not encryption itself, but authentication, which requires trusted third parties, and secure mechanisms for managing the trust chain. He says, “The encryption part is relatively easy. It’s a software stack…it comes on most operating systems by default. It just needs to be configured. Most Web servers tie into it directly and take care of things for you. Your biggest challenge is protecting your private key. The authentication part is a bit of a nightmare, and it has been for a while, so if you want to authenticate, the way this works on the web is you need to get a certificate from a certificate authority, and it’s complicated, even for really smart people like my friend Colin here at Cisco.”

    • Is encrypted e-mail a must in the Trump presidential era?

      With Donald Trump poised to take over the U.S. presidency, does it make sense for all of us to move to encrypted e-mail if we want to preserve our privacy? Encrypted e-mail provider ProtonMail says yes, indeed.

    • New IoT botnet behind fake Instagram, Twitter and YouTube profiles

      Hackers have created thousands of fake accounts on popular social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Periscope, via an IoT botnet, using the Linux/Moose malware. Security researchers claim that fake social media accounts are created by hackers to randomly follow people and browse content, in efforts to make the bots seem more “human” and avoid spam filters.

      According to security researchers, the Linux/Moose botnet is a “new generation” IoT botnet that operates on embedded systems such as routers, rather than computers. This makes the bot much more difficult to detect. The botnet can function on even limited computational power and specialises in “social media fraud”.

    • Great. Now Even Your Headphones Can Spy on You

      Cautious computer users put a piece of tape over their webcam. Truly paranoid ones worry about their devices’ microphones, some even crack open their computers and phones to disable or remove those audio components so they can’t be hijacked by hackers. Now one group of Israeli researchers has taken that game of spy-versus-spy paranoia a step further, with malware that converts your headphones into makeshift microphones that can slyly record your conversations.

    • Watch out: ɢoogle.com isn’t the same as Google.com

      If you don’t watch where you’re going on the internet, you might be headed down a dark alley before you know it.

      Like a lot of big websites, we use Google Analytics to keep track of traffic on TNW. A few weeks ago, however, we spotted something that looked a bit out of the ordinary.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • My friend James Foley was murdered by Isis reporting the truth. Too few are left to shed such light on the Middle East

      It was a relief that the documentary about Jim Foley did not show his murder, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, forced to kneel on the desert sand before being beheaded by a masked terrorist; the scene from the grotesque Isis video which has been shown repeatedly across the world.

      Those of us who are his friends had often thought about what he was going through in those terrible last moments. But we would rather have memories of his life rather than his death: working alongside him covering conflicts; remembering someone who, as well as being a great photojournalist, was also brave and modest, and always retained sympathy for those whose suffering he chronicled.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Readers prefer Julian Assange over Donald Trump as TIME Person of the Year: Poll

      Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has overtaken President-elect Donald Trump for the lead in the online poll of who readers think should be TIMEs Person of the Year in 2016. As of 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Monday, Assange and Trump were deadlocked with 9 per cent of all the “yes” votes cast by participants, but Assange pulled ahead to 10 per cent shortly after noon, Time reported.

    • Trump, WikiLeaks and Sweden

      Personally, I would like to emphasize that WikiLeaks’ publication did not intend to favour a particular candidate, but to strengthen the democratic process as a whole. In times of political confusion in which the rulers arrogate for themselves secret prerogatives on secrecy, corruption or usurping power given to them by popular mandates, to pursue other than public good objectives, the opening by WikiLeaks of government’s Pandora box has been a lifeboat sent to Democracy. [2]

      I have recently answered a questionnaire sent by journalist Anna Khalitova on behalf of Russian newspaper Izvestia regarding the issue. Some of my statements were quoted in this Izvestia article, [3] and after appeals for a translation I received on Twitter, I decided to publish here the full text of my replies to Izvestia; putting it in context and adding the sources I used. The questions of the Izvestia interview dealt with the interrogation of Assange in London done by a Swedish prosecutor on Monday 14 November 2016, Julian Assange’s health status, and the prospect of the case in Sweden against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s election in the US.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Dakota Access pipeline: 300 protesters injured after police use water cannons

      Twenty-six people were hospitalized and more than 300 injured after North Dakota law enforcement officers trained water cannons, teargas, and other “less-than-lethal” weapons on unarmed activists protesting against the Dakota Access pipeline in below-freezing weather on Sunday night, according to a group of medical professionals supporting the anti-pipeline movement.

      The Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council said that injuries from the “mass casualty incident” included multiple bone fractures from projectiles fired by police, a man with internal bleeding from a rubber bullet injury, a man who suffered a grand mal seizure, and a woman who was struck in the face with a rubber bullet and whose vision was compromised.

      The majority of the patients suffered hypothermia, a result of being soaked by water cannons, the group said.

    • Will Russian Oil Break America’s ‘Marriage’ To Saudi Arabia?

      For years, Saudi Arabia was a close American ally, while Russia was a distant enemy.

      That’s why America purchased a lot of oil from Saudi Arabia and very little from Russia. For the period 1973-2005, America’s oil imports from the Saudi kingdom remained steady, in the range of one to 1.5 million barrels per day. Over the same period, America’s oil imports from Russia fluctuated widely, rising from next to nothing in the 1970s and 1980s to a couple of hundred thousand barrels a day in the early 2000s, before falling back to less 38 thousand in 2015.

      At times, America had to pay a steep price for excessive reliance on Saudi oil and the OPEC oil. Like back in 1970s when the kingdom imposed an oil embargo on the US.

    • Global Trumpism Seen Harming Efforts to Reduce Climate Pollution

      Populism is drawing momentum from environmentalism in the U.S. and Europe, threatening the world’s effort to rein in climate change.

      Donald Trump’s election in the U.S., the U.K. Independence Party and Marine Le Pen’s ascent in France all represent a break with political leaders who made the environment a priority. All three are skeptical climate change is happening and are resistant to international projects like the United Nations global warming talks.

      Envoys from more than 190 countries gathered by the UN made progress this weekend in their work to contain fossil-fuel emissions and keep a lid on temperature increases. Two weeks of discussions in Marrakech, Morocco, were overshadowed by the election of Trump, who has called climate change a hoax. Many delegates left the city concerned about the forces working against them.

  • Finance

    • Trump camp denies he sought favor in Argentine call

      President-elect Donald Trump’s spokesman denied Monday an Argentine news report that Trump sought a business favor when that nation’s president called to congratulate him on his Nov. 8 election victory.

      “Not true,” Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller told USA TODAY in an email.

      Trump’s Buenos Aires office building project has been delayed by a series of issues, including financing and permitting requirements. When Argentine President Mauricio Macri called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory, Trump asked Macri to address the permitting issues, according to Jorge Lanata, one of the country’s most prominent journalists.

    • Argentine leader: Ivanka joined call with Trump

      Macri and Donald Trump first met through the former’s father Francisco, who sold a defunct real estate development project to Donald Trump in the 1980s.

      Donald Trump’s extensive business background has raised concerns about conflicts of interest between his future White House and his private enterprises.

    • Trade after Trump

      The one policy issue that was an unambiguous loser for Clinton was trade[^1]. Her grudging move to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, choice of Tim Kaine as running mate and some unhelpful remarks from Bill Clinton meant that Trump had all the running. How should we think about trade policy after Trump? My starting point will be the assumption that, in a world where Trump can be President of the US, there’s no point in being overly constrained by calculations of political realism.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Election offered poor choices
    • Which PR Firms Lose Ground After Trump Victory?
    • KING: The alt-right movement goes full Nazi as Steve Bannon prepares to enter the White House

      Steve Bannon was recently appointed as Chief Strategist for President-elect Donald Trump. It was simply a promotion for Bannon, who served as CEO of Trump’s presidential campaign.

      Bannon, though, was not an experienced political strategist. He was the head of Breitbart News. Just a few months ago, he openly bragged that under his leadership he transformed Breitbart into “the platform of the alt-right movement.” Those are his words — not from some distant past, but from this past July.

      I’ve said it many times, but the alt-right movement is simply the KKK without the hoods. They are skinheads with suits and ties. They simply chose a new name, but are fueled by the same hate and the same philosophy as previous white supremacist and Neo-Nazi movements.

    • Museum Condemns White Nationalist Conference Rhetoric

      The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is deeply alarmed at the hateful rhetoric at a conference of white nationalists held on November 19 at the Ronald Reagan Building just blocks from the Museum.

    • ‘Hail Trump’: Alt-right Nationalists Celebrate Trump Victory, Quote Nazi Propaganda

      Speakers at an event of the white supremacist think tank the National Policy Institute quoted Nazi propaganda and said the media protects Jewish interests in an event that has garnered condemnation from Jewish groups and even the U.S. Holocaust Museum.

      A video published by The Atlantic shows parts of a speech delivered by Richard Spencer, a prominent white nationalist within the alt-right movement, at the National Policy Institute’s annual conference to celebrate Trump’s victory in DC over the weekend.

    • ‘Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President Elect

      “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!”

      That’s how Richard B. Spencer saluted more than 200 attendees on Saturday, gathered at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., for the annual conference of the National Policy Institute, which describes itself as “an independent organization dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.”

      Spencer has popularized the term “alt-right” to describe the movement he leads. Spencer has said his dream is “a new society, an ethno-state that would be a gathering point for all Europeans,” and has called for “peaceful ethnic cleansing.”

      For most of the day, a parade of speakers discussed their ideology in relatively anodyne terms, putting a presentable face on their agenda. But after dinner, when most journalists had already departed, Spencer rose and delivered a speech to his followers dripping with anti-Semitism, and leaving no doubt as to what he actually seeks. He referred to the mainstream media as “Lügenpresse,” a term he said he was borrowing from “the original German”; the Nazis used the word to attack their critics in the press.

    • The Washington Post vs. ‘Fake News’: Pot, Meet Kettle

      “Freedom of expression is a bedrock of American democracy,” the Washington Post‘s editorial board writes in a November 18 jeremiad, “but its irresponsible exercise can distort and destabilize our politics.”

      The Post‘s editors, mining the bottomless pit of mainstream media excuses for not predicting Donald Trump’s victory in November’s presidential election, think they’ve hit the mother lode with their newfound focus on “fake news” stories going viral in social media.

      The Post coming out against “fake news?” That’s rich, especially given the last few months, during which the Post‘s reporters went all in for Hillary Clinton even to the extent of manufacturing “news” that Trump, and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, were in bed with Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

      Neither the Post nor its sources have publicly revealed so much as a crumb of actual evidence for the assertion. The case for the claim consists entirely of rumor and innuendo. But since doing so seemed to benefit Clinton’s campaign, the Post unreservedly ran with that rumor and innuendo, helpfully packaged for it by the Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee.

    • How Julian Assange hijacked the American media

      Six years ago, in cooperation with prestigious news organizations like The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, WikiLeaks began dumping the first of 251,287 pilfered cables that revealed the inner workings of American diplomacy. And a month before that, WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs: 391,832 field reports documenting, among other things, the deaths of 66,081 Iraqi civilians.

      The Iraq War Logs arguably should have been more shocking than the Pentagon Papers. But the main response from Americans was a depressed shrug. Even The Washington Post shared that sentiment, observing that “many of the insights gleaned from the documents are not surprising by themselves.”

      It was clear that Americans didn’t need a trove of leaked documents to give them a dim view of their government’s transparency and honesty. It was also clear that, for the most part, they weren’t going to bother to read much of what WikiLeaks published anyway.

    • Slain DNC staffer’s parents: Help us find killer

      The parents of murdered Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich are calling on D.C. residents help catch the killer, who shot Rich, 27, multiple times in the back on July 10 in Bloomingdale.

      “We need the public’s help, we need everybody’s help, and I know Seth knew the right thing if everybody helps us, we will find these murderers and we will make that neighborhood a lot safer,” Mary Ann Rich, his mother, said during a news conference in Washington Monday, according to ABC 7 WJLA.

      “We need help,” Rich’s father, Joel, added. “We need people who know what was going on who may know somebody, we need help from whomever can give the police some more information on what might have happened.”

    • Help Wanted, Apply Now!

      You may have seen the stories last week — President-elect Donald Trump was shocked to learn he needs to hire over 4,000 political appointees by January 20, or that people in Washington may refuse to work in a Trump administration, or that Trump, as a newcomer to politics, may not know enough people to get down to the business of hiring. I doubt any of those statements are true, and the task is easier than you think.

    • Trump transition provokes cries of nepotism – but can anything be done?

      President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to bring his children into his inner circle, alongside far-right adviser Stephen Bannon, has provoked concerns about nepotism, ethics and national security, and experts worry he will go unchecked in office.

      Trump can easily ignore calls to act otherwise, experts say, and critics will have few options even after he assumes the Oval Office.


      Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs executive and CEO of the far-right, conspiratorial Breitbart News, was only the first of several highly controversial cabinet appointments. On Friday Trump nominated Senator Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, and the retired general Mike Flynn to be national security adviser, leaving progressives and ethics watchers reeling.

      Norman Eisen, a former special counsel and ethics adviser to Barack Obama, accused Trump of acting “like something out of a tin-pot oligarchy”. Writing in Fortune, he said “this is not the way we behave” in America.

      But there is no evidence that Trump intends to heed such criticism, nor that he could have to confront it legally.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Fighting For The First Amendment Is Going To Be A Priority: Help Us Do It

      Throughout the campaign, we noted how Donald Trump’s views on the First Amendment and free speech were horrific. While some of his supporters insist that he’s wonderful for free speech because he’s not “politically correct,” in almost every way he’s positioned himself as an enemy of free speech and the First Amendment (even the whole “political correctness” thing is misleading, because if you mention certain other words, Trump supporters seem to get just as worked up as the “PC police”). He (along with Clinton) promised to censor the internet and brushed off the free speech concerns about doing so, calling people who bring up free speech in that context to be “foolish people.” And, then of course, there is the long list of threats to sue his opponents for their ads, news organizations for their articles and other critics as well. Those are all protected speech. It didn’t help matters that his very first post-election tweet complained about protesters exercising their First Amendment right to assemble and protest, and the press for supposedly “inciting” them to protest.

      In the past few days things haven’t gotten much better. His campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway threatened Harry Reid with legal action for criticizing the President-elect. Sure, Reid’s statement was hyperbolic and a bit ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than stuff that Trump himself said on the campaign trail. You don’t go and threaten people for expressing their opinions — especially when its people from opposing parties. That’s what dictatorial strongmen do, not those in a country that has the First Amendment.

    • New Cybercrime Regs Would Open Back Door to Censorship

      An online right advocate pointed out Monday that the latest proposed changes to the Computer Crime Act and its supporting laws would provide the authorities with direct access to deleting things from the internet.

      In the latest draft of the controversial act and its related regulations made public Friday, the new Ministry of Digital Economy and Society would set up a central system to manage the removal of online content. It would be connected to the systems of cooperating internet service providers so authorities could directly remove content.

    • Mainstream Media Uses ‘Fake News’ to Censor Conservative Views
    • Facebook’s Plan To Stop “Fake News” Borders On Censorship
    • How Zuckerberg’s changing his mind on Facebook’s fake news dilemma
    • Need to resolve Maharashtra theatre censorship: Palekar

      Panaji: Maharashtra, which has an especially strong tradition of reform movements and an active theatre community, is also the state with pre-censorship laws for theatre. “As per the laws, the State can control the writers’ script before it is even performed. This does not happen anywhere else in India,” said filmmaker and actor Amol Palekar at the Dakshinayan Rashtriya Parishad here on Sunday.

    • Can’t portray reality by bypassing reality; our censorship laws archaic: Sharmila Tagore

      Former CBFC chief and veteran actor Sharmila Tagore will be speaking at Times Lit Fest Delhi, November 26-27. She spoke about the journey of Indian cinema over the past 70 years to Himanshi Dhawan , explaining why colonial-era censorship laws need to be changed, how filmmakers remain a soft target and why she thinks Indian cinema — with a few exceptions — still remains simplistic in its worldview.

    • How Facebook Should Handle Its Fake News Problem

      Depending on whom you believe, the problem of fake news on Facebook is either one of the most important issues facing mankind, or an over-blown controversy pumped up by the mainstream media. And in a way, that dichotomy itself points out the problem with defining—let alone actually getting rid of—”fake news.”

      When someone uses that term, they could be referring to one of a number of different things: It might be a story about how Bill and Hillary Clinton murdered several top-level Washington insiders, or it might be one about how Donald Trump’s chief adviser is a neo-Nazi, or it might be one about how the most important election issue was Clinton’s emails.

    • ‘They Treated Us Like Garbage’: Former Trending News Writer Slams Facebook

      On Monday, a woman identifying herself as a former writer for Facebook’s trending section took to Twitter to criticize the social media giant, saying the solution to the site’s current fake news problem is the editorial team it fired with “no grace, no notice, no care” earlier this year.

    • Onlinecensorship.org launches second report, “Censorship in Context” (PDF)

      Onlinecensorship.org is pleased to share our second research report, “Censorship in Context: Insights from Crowdsourced Data on Social Media Censorship.” The report draws on data gathered directly from users from April to November 2016, and covers six social media platforms: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. In the report, we also look at the increasing number of media stories surrounding this issue.
      Our latest report also closely examines key issues related to online censorship, from the importance of considering context in content moderation to the effects of privatized enforcement of legal statutes by companies.

      We have aggregated and analyzed our data across geography, platform, content type, and issue areas to highlight trends in social media censorship.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • FBI’s Dark Web Child Porn Investigation Stretched to Norway

      Nearly two years after its inception, more details about the largest known law enforcement hacking campaign are still coming to light. According to local media reports, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation provided information to Norwegian authorities from its large-scale investigation into child pornography site Playpen.

      The case highlights the FBI’s use of malware to search computers overseas, as the US prepares to usher in new powers for judges to authorize hacking operations, which experts have described as the broadest expansion of extraterritorial surveillance power since the FBI was created.

      Late last week, Norwegian police said they had arrested 51 people on suspicion of child pornography crimes as part of its own “Operation Dark Room.” Authorities have taken 150TB of material, making it one of the largest seizures in Norwegian history, the announcement reads.

    • Creepy new website makes its monitoring of your online behaviour visible

      IF YOU think you are not being analysed while browsing websites, it could be time to reconsider.

      A creepy new website called clickclickclick has been developed to demonstrate how our online behaviour is continuously measured.

      Dutch media company VPRO and Amsterdam based interactive design company Studio Moniker are the masterminds behind the site, which observes and comments on your behaviour in great detail.

    • Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.

      I’m a millennial computer scientist who also writes books and runs a blog. Demographically speaking I should be a heavy social media user, but that is not the case. I’ve never had a social media account.

    • Nokia to develop drone system for United Arab Emirates
    • Just how partisan is Facebook’s fake news? We tested it
    • Facebook says it will hire an extra 500 people in the UK when it opens a new London office next year
    • Facebook to increase UK employees by 500 in 2017
    • NSA Chief Michael Rogers Talks Cybersecurity [Ed: filled with revisionism and lies]

      Cyberattacks represent an expanding and perilous front line for companies and the government. What do we do about a borderless war that has impacted business across the world and even a presidential campaign?

    • NSA head: DNC hack didn’t affect election outcome
    • NSA: The DNC Email Hacks Didn’t Cost Clinton The Election
    • Why GCHQ needs to fix its diversity problem
    • GCHQ may be forced to respond to FoI requests after European court ruling

      European citizens have a right to information from public authorities under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), it has been ruled—in a decision that may force GCHQ to respond to Freedom of Information requests.

      The judgment was made by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), and was described by the UK Campaign for Freedom of Information as a “landmark decision.”

      The case concerned a dispute between Hungary’s government and an NGO, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, over a freedom of information request filed by the latter. However, such was the wider importance of the case that others were permitted to submit their views to the court: the UK government, and a group of international privacy organisations, including the Campaign for Freedom of Information.

    • President Obama Will Soon Turn Over the Keys to the Surveillance State to President-Elect Trump

      On January 20, President Obama will hand Donald Trump the keys to the surveillance state. Not only will Trump have the NSA’s incredibly powerful technological tools at his disposal, but he’ll also have the benefit of the overbroad and unconstitutional surveillance authorities embraced by the Obama administration — authorities that give tremendous discretion to executive branch officials.

      These spying powers have long been cause for concern because they violate our core rights to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. But when wielded by a man who invited Russia to hack his political opponent, who reportedly eavesdropped on his own hotel guests, and who has called for expanded surveillance of Americans and especially American Muslims, they are all the more frightening. Fortunately, there are several ways to fight back against the surveillance state, including concrete steps you can take to protect yourself and your communications.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Obama’s ‘Factually Incorrect’ Edward Snowden Remarks: Game Over for a Pardon?

      President Barack Obama told German journalists last week that he can’t pardon Edward Snowden unless he physically submits to U.S. authorities. Those familiar with American law know there’s no such restriction and interpret “can’t” as meaning “won’t.”

      The answer irked some Snowden backers, who launched a push this year to win the whistleblower a prison-free return from Russia, where he’s lived since U.S. officials canceled his passport in 2013, extending for years a Hong Kong-to-Latin America layover.

      “Obama’s claim that he cannot pardon Edward Snowden is misleading and factually incorrect,” says Evan Greer of the advocacy group Fight for the Future, which co-organized a large pro-Snowden rally near the U.S. Capitol in 2013.

      “He has the power to do it, and he should,” Greer says.

      Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for Snowden, says Obama picked his words strategically.

      “Obama can certainly grant a pardon to Snowden but does not want to upset the millions of Americans who support a pardon for Snowden by outright denying it,” Radack says. “By avoiding a decision, however, Obama is effectively denying a pardon.”

    • Sweden should promise Julian Assange will not be extradited if he faces justice, Ecuador’s FM says

      Ecuador’s Foreign Minister says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should receive guarantees that he will not be extradited to the US if he faces justice in Sweden after four years of living in the South American nation’s embassy in London.

      Mr Assange, who enraged Washington by publishing a flood of secret US diplomatic cables, fled to the embassy fearing that Sweden could end up sending him on to the United States where he could face prison for leaking US secrets.

    • “RepressIntern”: Russia’s security cooperation with fellow authoritarians

      The formal and informal links between Eurasia’s security services pose deadly risks for opposition activists abroad.

    • European Parliament resolution: check legality ISDS/ICS in CETA

      Members of the European Parliament want the EU’s Court of Justice to check whether a parallel legal system in the trade agreement with Canada (CETA) is compatible with the EU treaties. The parallel legal system, known as ISDS / ICS, is only accessible to foreign investors. Eighty-nine members tabled a resolution. The Parliament will vote next week, Wednesday 23 November 2016.

    • Obama will not pardon NSA leaker Edward Snowden

      On his final trip to Europe as the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama indeed had plenty to talk about in his interview with Germany’s largest newspaper, Der Spiegel.

    • Obama: Snowden has to face trial

      President Barack Obama isn’t going to talk about whether he’ll pardon Edward Snowden.

      That’s because Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked government documents to journalists, has to return to the US to face trial, Obama told Der Spiegel and German broadcaster ARD in an interview published Friday.

      “I can’t pardon somebody who hasn’t gone before a court and presented themselves,” Obama said in an interview with the two news organizations, “so that’s not something that I would comment on at this point.”

    • Let’s Perp-Walk That Honor Student For Cutting A Peach With A Toddler’s Utensil Set Knife

      And this is the best. The Pembroke Pines cops have turned the case over to the State’s Attorney.

      Hmm…do you think she should be sentenced to life without parole? Maybe the electric chair?

      For the record, I took a knife to school probably on most days. A sharp little apple paring knife. I have yet to stab anything but food.

      Yes, that’s right. Even with all that access to dangerous weaponry, I remain merely hostile, not violent.

    • Trump’s Hamilton tweetstorm: calculated distraction from fraud settlement, or fragile mediocrity?

      Yesterday, Donald Trump’s news cycle was dominated by two stories: first, that the president-elect of the United States of America had a well-developed sense of the sanctity of the theatre, such that any on-stage politicking shocked his conscience to the core; second, that he had settled a lawsuit over Trump University, handing $25,000,000 to people whom he had defrauded.

      The Hamilton story certainly played well: it was above the fold on the New York Times print edition (the fraud story was below the fold), and if we attribute to Trump a measured media savvy, then we could call his twitterstorm a master-stroke of distraction at a moment when the press and the world could have been extremely interested in the news that the new president had paid $25,000,000 in hush-money after a well-publicized fraud perpetrated against desperate American workers who were hoping to get retrained to survive in the new economy — the very same people who are widely credited with handing Trump the election.

    • Police clash with North Dakota pipeline protesters, arrest one

      Hundreds of protesters opposed to a North Dakota oil pipeline project they say threatens water resources and sacred tribal lands clashed with police who fired tear gas at the scene of a similar confrontation last month, officials said.

    • Police defend use of water cannons on Dakota Access protesters in freezing weather

      Authorities on Monday defended their decision to douse protesters with water during a skirmish in subfreezing weather near the Dakota Access oil pipeline, and organizers said at least 17 protesters were taken to the hospital — including some who were treated for hypothermia.

      Protesters trying to push past a long-blocked bridge on a state highway late Sunday and early Monday were turned back by authorities using tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses.

    • Dakota Access Pipeline clashes turn violent

      Police and about 400 people who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline clashed Sunday evening as demonstrators set cars on fire and law enforcement officers fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water at the crowds.

      A live stream from the site near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, showed a chaotic, loud scene, with people screaming and car horns honking.

      Protesters were attempting to cross the Backwater Bridge and go north on Highway 1806, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, which described Sunday’s events as an “ongoing riot.”

    • Water Cannons and Tear Gas Used Against Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters

      Reuters photographer Stephanie Keith recently traveled to North Dakota to cover the ongoing protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a $3.8 billion oil pipeline meant to carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields through the Dakotas and Iowa, to Illinois. Protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, hundreds of other Native Americans and their supporters are now encamped near the Backwater Bridge, with law enforcement stationed behind a roadblock on the opposite side. According to Reuters, last night hundreds of protesters made attempts to force their way through the barricades, reportedly setting dozens of fires. They were met with water cannons, pepper spray, tear gas, and rubber bullets, resulting in dozens of injuries. Below are images from last night, and some from the previous several days at the protest site.

    • Pope Francis indefinitely extends priests’ ability to forgive women who have abortions

      Pope Francis has said all priests will be able to forgive abortion, extending indefinitely a temporary measure he had put in place for the Vatican’s jubilee year.

      “I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion,” the Pope wrote in a letter marking the end of the “Holy Year of Mercy”.

      “The provision I had made in this regard, limited to the duration of the Extraordinary Holy Year, is hereby extended, notwithstanding anything to the contrary,” he wrote.

    • ‘Biggest invisible thing on earth?’ – It’s called Indonesia, and it’s waking up

      Looking for fun on a rainy afternoon? Try this: take a blow-up globe down to your nearest public space – a shopping mall, perhaps, or a train station – and ask people to find Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation.

      I’ve tried it in London, New York and Rio. The response: “Uuuuuuuhh …”

      Much stroking of chins and scratching of heads. “Somewhere around here, maybe,” accompanied by vague hand gestures towards Indochina or south Asia.

      If you’re in Melbourne or Sydney you may have more luck. But even there, interest in Indonesia per se is muted. In the words of an editor at Penguin Australia: “Despite [Indonesia] being a profoundly important near neighbour of ours, I feel our market would need an Australian angle on the country.”

    • Indonesia’s got a drinking problem – Muslim hardliners who want to ban alcohol

      In all my half-century of drinking, I have only once encountered a pub with no beer. Ironically, that was the Macbeth Arms in the small Scottish village of Lumphanan, where my hallowed ancestor was slain by Malcolm III in 1057.

      There was a reason, of course. It was inconveniently closed for renovations.

      Imagine my horror then, when on a road trip along the northern Java coast to cover Indonesia’s 2014 presidential elections, I inadvertently stopped for the night at what turned out to be a TOWN with no beer.

      Demak (Pop: 33,700), the site of one of Indonesia’s oldest mosques, is one of a growing number of towns and cities across populous Java that have quietly banned the sale of alcohol.

    • Muslim Aversion to Non-Muslim Rule and the Jakarta Riots

      Violence between protesters and police in Jakarta broke out Friday night, November 4, 2016, when an estimated 200,000 Muslims emerged from Friday prayers in mosques to rally outside the Indonesian president’s palace. Clashes with police led to tear gas being used on demonstrators, and Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, had to postpone his planned visit to Australia to deal with the crisis.

      The crowd was calling for the arrest of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, the ethnic Chinese Christian governor of Jakarta, which is Indonesia’s capital and the largest city in the world’s fourth most populous nation.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Trump Names Two Opponents of Net Neutrality to Oversee FCC Transition Team

      President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Both of the new advisers are staunch opponents of net neutrality regulations.

      Jeff Eisenach, one of the two newly appointed advisers, is an economist who has previously worked as a consultant for Verizon and its trade association. In September 2014, Eisenach testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee and said, “Net neutrality would not improve consumer welfare or protect the public interest.” He has also worked for the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and in a blog post wrote, “Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple.”

    • Why Oracle Paid More Than $600 Million for Dyn

      Business software titan Oracle paid somewhere between $600 million and $700 million to acquire Dyn, a source close to the deal told Fortune.

      Earlier on Monday, Dan Primack reported that Oracle paid “north of $600 million” for the Manchester, N.H.-based company. Oracle and Dyn announced the deal, without financial details, Monday morning.


Links 21/11/2016: New Linux RC, Zorin OS 12 Receives a Lot of Press Coverage

Posted in News Roundup at 12:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • In memoriam: Pieter Hintjens

    Former FFII President, erstwhile OFE collaborator, and personal friend, Pieter Hintjens, passed away last month at the age of 53. Pieter was a programmer, an influential thinker, and a prolific writer who inspired many. While we did not always agree, I always appreciated the intelligence and passion he brought to everything he did. He will be much missed.

  • Best open source management tools

    Open source software provides an attractive alternative to more costly commercial products, but can open source products deliver enterprise-grade results? To answer this question we tested four open source products: OpenNMS, Pandora FMS, NetXMS and Zabbix. All four products were surprisingly good. We liked Pandora FMS for its ease of installation and modern user interface. In general, we found configuration to be easier and more intuitive with Pandora than the other contenders. NetXMS came in a close second with a nice user interface, easy to configure rules and a solid user manual. Overall, we found all four products suitable for enterprise use, particularly in small-to-midsize environments

  • Pandora FMS wins open-source management shootout

    Doing more with less remains an ongoing challenge for IT execs. Making sure everything keeps humming along to meet service-level agreements can be challenging for resource-stretched IT departments. For all but the smallest shops, effective monitoring requires tools that provide a meta view of the entire infrastructure with drill-down capabilities.

  • 4 ways to open up your project’s infrastructure

    Open source isn’t just about opening up your code—it’s also about building a supporting infrastructure that invites people to contribute. In order to create a vibrant, growing, and exciting project, the community needs to be able to participate in the governance, the documentation, the code, and the actual structures that keep the project alive. If the overall “hive” is doing well, it attracts more individuals with diverse skills to the project.

  • Minoca, it’s ‘another’ lightweight OS for IoT

    New on the scene is recent times is Minoca OS, a general purpose open source operating system written specifically to conserve power, storage and memory.

  • Events/Outreachy

    • Speak at The Linux Foundation’s Invite-Only Open Source Leadership Summit

      The Linux Foundation Open Source Leadership Summit (formerly known as Collaboration Summit) is where the world’s thought leaders in open source software and collaborative development convene to share best practices and learn how to create and advance the open source infrastructure that runs our lives.

      The Linux Foundation is now seeking executives, business and technical leaders, open source program office leaders, and open source foundation and project leaders to share your knowledge, best practices and strategies with fellow leaders at OSLS, to be held Feb. 14-16, 2017, in Lake Tahoe, CA.

    • LLVM Developer Meeting 2016 Videos Posted

      The videos from the LLVM Developer Meeting 2016 conference that took place at the beginning of November are now online.

    • Outreachy Winter 2016 Projects/Participants Announced

      The accepted participants and their projects for the Outreachy Winter 2016 session were announced earlier this month for helping females and other under-represented groups engage in free software development.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Early Stage Startup Heptio Aims to Make Kubernetes Friendly

      Two Former Google staffers the built the original Google Compute Engine and helped to create Kubernetes are launching their own company to fill a perceived gap in the container orchestration market.

      Heptio was officially announced on Nov. 17, as yet another company in the ever-growing landscape of vendors aiming to support the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. Heptio is noteworthy in that it was recently founded and led by the same two Google staffers, Craig McLuckie and Joe Beda, that originally created Kubernetes in the first place.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • GLobjects 1.0.0 Released For OpenGL Aide

      GLobjects 1.0.0 has been released as an open-source library designed to make OpenGL usage “modern, less cluttered, and less error-prone.”

      GLobjects 1.0 is derived from glbinding and OpenGL Mathematics and provides a object-oriented C++-based interface.


  • Security

    • Linux versus Unix hot patching

      There has always been a debate about how close Linux can get to the real operating system (OS), the core proprietary Unix variants that for two decades defined the limits of non-mainframe scalability and reliability.

      But times are changing, and the new narrative may be when will Unix catch up to Linux on critical reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) features such as hot patching?

      Hot patching, the ability to apply updates to the OS kernel while it is running, is a long sought-after but elusive feature of a production OS.

      It is sought after because both developers and operations teams recognise that bringing down an OS instance that is doing critical high-volume work is at best disruptive and at worst a logistical nightmare. Its level of difficulty also makes it somewhat elusive.

      There have been several failed attempts and implementations that almost worked, but they were so fraught with exceptions that they were not really useful in production.

    • Can I interest you in talking about Security?
  • Defence/Aggression

    • US Implicated in Targeting Yemeni Civilians

      Since March 2015, Yemen has been ravaged by armed conflict between the incumbent administration headed by President Abdrahbuh Mansour and the religious-political Houthi insurgency, sometimes linked to terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. The US had prioritized its anti-terrorism efforts in the Middle East following the rise of Musab al-Zarqawi (the founder of ISIS). But, in becoming preoccupied with hunts for other high-profile terrorist targets, the US let the internal socio-political state of Yemen fall to the wayside. To make up for past neglect, the Obama administration began backing Yemen’s Mansour administration and implementing “strategic” bombings. Today, Yemen is neck deep in a war they did not ask for, facing an enemy that is not identifiable.

      On August 15, 2016, “Abs Hospital, located in the country’s Hajjah governorate and supported by the international medical charity, was hit at 3:45 p.m. local time.” According to a statement released by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF]), nine individuals were killed on impact, including an MSF volunteer. Teresa Sancristóval, the MSF emergency program manager, claims that all military authorities were well informed regarding the GPS coordinates of the humanitarian hospital site, but failed to acknowledge it when planning the strike. There is still no information released on behalf of who was targeted by the strike.

    • 9/11, Permanent War, and the Transnational Capitalist Class

      Globalization of trade and central banking has empowered private corporations to positions of power and control never before seen in human history. Under advanced capitalism, the structural demands for a return on investment require an unending expansion of centralized capital in the hands of fewer and fewer people. The financial center of global capitalism is so highly concentrated that less than a few thousand people dominate and control some $100 trillion dollars of wealth.

    • Could David Petraeus, Rumored Candidate for Secretary of State, Get a Security Clearance?

      After months of criticizing Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information while serving as secretary of state, Donald Trump is reportedly considering David Petraeus for the same job, even though the four-star general and former CIA director pled guilty to passing classified information to his former lover and biographer.

      The Guardian reported on Thursday that Petraeus is in the running for secretary of state in the Trump administration. The anonymously sourced report could not be confirmed, but Petraeus reportedly met with Trump just before the election, and has since been complimentary about the president elect.

      On German cable news, Petraeus called Trump a “dealmaker,” and said, “He’s right to criticize Washington over its partisanship and its inability to forge compromises.”

      Petraeus resigned as CIA director in 2012 after the FBI discovered he was having an affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. The resulting investigation revealed that he had given her highly classified information, and Justice Department prosecutors wanted to indict Petraeus on felony charges.

      According to his 2015 plea deal, Petraeus intentionally gave Broadwell access to eight “Black Books” filled with highly classified information, including “the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions,” and even Petraeus’s conversations with the president. He also admitted that he had misled the FBI during the investigation.


      John Pilger’s new film – The Coming War on China – will be in UK cinemas from Monday 5 December 2016 and on ITV at 10.35pm on Tuesday 6 December.

    • British Navy fires warning shots at Spanish vessel off Gibraltar

      The British Navy on Sunday fired flares at a Spanish research vessel after it ignored requests to leave the waters at Gibraltar’s coast and attempts to contact the crew failed, the Guardian reports.

      The boat, operated by Spain’s state Oceanographic Institute, entered the British waters several times within 48 hours, but ignored requests to leave.

      “The Royal Navy challenges all unlawful maritime incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters. We back this up by making formal diplomatic protests to the Spanish government,” a spokesperson for the ministry of defense told the Guardian.

      Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar’s chief minister, said he was “satisfied” with the tactical decisions taken, AFP reports. Gibraltar says similar “provocative” incidents with Spanish vessels take place in its territorial waters, but it is rare for the Navy to fire flares.

    • Former NSA Director Doesn’t Think Michael Flynn Is Up To The Job

      Former National Security Agency director and CIA director Michael Hayden expressed concern about President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for national security advisor, Michael Flynn, saying Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, would be “stretched a bit” by his new role.

      “But by and large he’s been successful at the tactical operational level,” Hayden said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “This is a strategic global job. And so I think he’ll be stretched a bit by this.”

    • A New Documentary Explores the Devastating Effects of Drone Warfare on Victims and Whistleblowers

      On the night of February 21, 2010, a group of families driving a convoy of vehicles through the valleys of Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan came into the sights of a Predator drone crew operating out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.

      “That truck would make a beautiful target,” one of the operators says. The crew analyzes the convoy, debating whether children are present. “I really doubt that child call, man. I really fucking hate that shit.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Exploring Tidal Marsh Resilience to Sea Level Rise

      The NOAA-sponsored National Estuarine Research Reserve System released a national assessment of tidal marsh resilience in the face of rising sea levels. This assessment establishes a national monitoring baseline for estuarine climate change impacts.

      Using data from the reserve’s system-wide monitoring program, the study was conducted at 16 sites in 13 coastal states. The results indicate that Pacific coast tidal marshes are more resistant to rising seas levels from climate change than marshes in the Atlantic. Of the areas evaluated, one marsh in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, and another in Massachusetts’ Waquoit Bay were found to be the most vulnerable.

    • How Important is the Ocean to U.S. Island Territories?

      A new report allows readers to better understand the importance of the ocean to the economies of two U.S. territories in the Caribbean. For people who manage, protect, and make use of the resources in these special places, more accurate economic data about ocean use are key to good decision making. And good decisions will help keep our ocean healthy and resilient—supporting livelihoods for future generations. Shown here: St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.

    • San Francisco Bay And Outer Coast Sentinel Site Cooperative

      Rush Ranch, part of San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The tidal marshes at Rush Ranch and nearby China Camp serve as research sites for scientists; classrooms for teachers, land managers and naturalists; and inspiring places for Bay Area residents to visit. Credit: Tom Muehleisen.

      The region is a major urban and economic center and a unique ecological treasure. It is home to over seven million people, and retains some of the largest and most important natural areas along the west coast, including three National Marine Sanctuaries (Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, and Monterey Bay), the Point Reyes National Seashore, the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The estuary serves as a major hub of commerce and supports the most intact Mediterranean-climate wetlands in North America.

      The San Francisco Sentinel Site Cooperative Management Team is currently comprised of representatives from NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management (OCM), the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), NOAA’s Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS), and California Sea Grant. The management team guides the development of the Cooperative and assists with engaging partners and linking existing efforts related to our focus areas, and expanding collaborations in the region.

    • Why “Climate Change” Must Become a Promise to Decolonize

      Like the racist policing we witnessed at the Dakota Access pipeline (and have been witnessing throughout the nation), climate change was, as feminist philosopher Chris J. Cuomo reminds us, “manufactured in a crucible of inequality.” Specifically, it is “a product of the industrial and the fossil-fuel eras, historical forces powered by exploitation, colonialism and nearly limitless instrumental use of ‘nature.’”

    • What we choose to resist

      I was standing in a crowded room filled with plaid and free cider. The student-run events space of Oxford Hub buzzed with a collective though rather timid optimism. Standing on a table with a foaming beer in his hand was Achim Steiner, Director of the Oxford Martin School and former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. He was delivering the first of the celebratory speeches.

      “In terms of global cooperation, the Paris Agreement was perhaps the most vital moment of sanity,” said Steiner. “Paris alone will not save us, but imagine if it had not happened.”

      In his words, the Agreement has forged an opportunity to deal with two key climate issues: legacy and equity. It has created the space to begin tackling the challenges of per-capita and historical CO2 emissions, and disparities such as the impacts of climate change on small island states and developing regions.

      As Steiner continued with his speech, however, he didn’t mince his words. Every syllable carried weight. “I have heard it all before,” he said, when referring to resistance to climate action and energy transitions. “We can’t do it. We don’t have the grid. It will affect our bottom line. It’s not possible. But the shareholders…”

    • English village strives for carbon neutrality

      South of Manchester, Ashton Hayes is a collection of tweed cottages and pretty houses, nestled between green fields and trees. But for the past 10 years, this small village has been showing world leaders how to save the planet.

      “I switched things off, wore more jumpers, changed how I used electricity – for example, I never used it after that for heating water,” says local Kate Harrison, as a way of explaining how she managed to cut her energy consumption by a whopping 60 percent over a short period of time.

      “Eventually I replaced my boiler for a much more efficient one – and just threw myself into the project, really.”

    • ‘Unprecedented’: More than 100 million trees dead in California

      California’s lingering drought has pushed the number of dead trees across the state past 100 million, an ecological event experts are calling dangerous and unprecedented in underlining the heightened risk of wildfires fueled by bone-dry forests.

      In its latest aerial survey released Friday, the U.S. Forest Service said 62 million trees have died this year in California, bringing the six-year total to more than 102 million.

    • Fiji’s Prime Minister Pleads With Trump: ‘Save Us’ From Climate Change

      Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has pleaded with Donald Trump and the American people to help save his slowly sinking nation. At this year’s global climate talks in Marrakech, he said that climate change was no hoax, and invited the President-elect to come visit Fiji and see the damage first hand.

      Mr. Bainimarama made his remarks on Friday, the last day of this year’s Conference of the Parties, a yearly meeting where UN signatories of the Paris Climate Agreement meet to discuss and plan its implementation.

      The spectre of a Trump administration and what that could mean for the climate agreement hung like a pall over the talks in Marrakech, and Mr. Bainimarama—slated to be president of next year’s meeting—addressed the worry directly on the closing day of the conference. His tiny island nation of Fiji is already under serious pressure from rising seas—a product of climate change.

  • Finance

    • German citizenship is ranked the most valuable in the world

      Not only do Germans have the most powerful passports in the world, they also have the highest quality of citizenship, according to a new report. The consultancy Henley & Partners’ first Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) ranks the value of 161 nations’ citizenship on a scale of 0 to 100%.

    • Sanders, Warren Not ‘Genuine Progressives’–Says Washington Post

      In standard theory, the people in the developing world buy their own stuff, with rich countries like the US providing the financing. It actually did work this way in the 1990s, up until the East Asian financial crisis in 1997. In that period, countries like Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia were growing very rapidly while running large trade deficits. This pattern of growth was ended by the terms of the bailout imposed on these countries by the US Treasury Department through the International Monetary Fund.

      The harsh terms of the bailout forced these and other developing countries to reverse the standard textbook path and start running large trade surpluses. This post-bailout period was associated with slower growth for these countries. In other words, the poor of the developing world suffered from the pattern of trade the Post advocates. If they had continued on the pre-bailout path, they would be much richer today. In fact, South Korea and Malaysia would be richer than the United States if they had maintained their pre-bailout growth rate over the last two decades. (This is the topic of the introduction to my new book, Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer; it’s free.)

      It is also important to note that the Post is only bothered by forms of protection that might help working-class people. The United States prohibits foreign doctors from practicing in the United States unless they complete a US residency program. (The total number of slots is tightly restricted, with only a small fraction open to foreign-trained doctors.) This is a classic protectionist measure. No serious person can believe that the only way for a person to be a competent doctor is to complete a US residency program. It costs the United States around $100 billion a year ($700 per family) in higher medical expenses. Yet we never hear a word about this or other barriers that protect the most highly paid professionals from the same sort of international competition faced by steelworkers and textile workers.

    • TPP: A Post-Mortem

      The death of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that EFF called last week has since been confirmed by White House officials. This marks the end of a long-running campaign against the secretive agreement that EFF began back in 2012.

      Make no mistake; although the proximate cause of the TPP’s demise was the U.S. Presidential election result, the TPP faced long odds in Congress even if the election had gone the other way. This in turn was due to broad opposition to the agreement from many sectors of society across the political divide, including from members of the digital rights community. So as we survey the fallout from the TPP’s demise, EFF and its supporters are entitled to feel proud of the part we played.

    • NYC Lawmakers Push For Audits of Landlords Who Pocket $1.4 Billion Tax Break

      New York City’s biggest housing subsidy may finally get more scrutiny just as state lawmakers are about to consider a massive expansion of the controversial program.

      The $1.4 billion-a-year program, known as 421-a, is designed to wipe away most of the property taxes owed by real estate developers who agree in return to limit annual rent increases in new apartments they have constructed. For buildings in Manhattan as well as expensive neighborhoods in other boroughs, a certain percentage of units must also be set aside for low-income renters.

    • Federal Court Holds That the Government Can’t Lock Up Immigrants for Being Poor

      Cesar Matias, a gay man, fled to the United States from Honduras more than a decade ago to escape the persecution he suffered because of his sexuality. He worked as a hair stylist and in a clothing factory in Los Angeles and rented a small, one-bedroom apartment.

      In March 2012, immigration agents arrested him; locked him up in the city jail in Santa Ana, California; and put him in deportation proceedings. He applied for asylum, and an immigration judge found him eligible for release while his case was being decided. He then spent the next four years of his life in prison — not because of any crime, but because he couldn’t afford to pay the $3,000 bond set by the judge.

    • For the poor, Texas’ justice system is a maze with no exit

      Dee Arellano had just parked her car in downtown Houston when she was approached by a police officer on horseback. The officer cited her because her vehicle registration had lapsed, a common infraction.

    • A ‘trade war’ is already going on in cyberspace

      After the initial shock-and-awe reaction to the surprise Trump victory, the markets rejoiced last week… a lot.

      “The Dow closed at an all-time high on Thursday, while the S&P and the Nasdaq were flirting with their record highs entering Friday,” reported CNBC.

      Others were less thrilled with the election result. Some experts claimed Trump’s plans to raise tariffs on China, withdraw from NAFTA, and otherwise stop globalization in its tracks would surely set off a trade war and hurt the markets.

      I disagree.

      I think Trump can’t start a trade war because we are already in one. It’s been going on for years, right under our noses… and it’s happening in cyberspace.

    • Economist’s research reveals poverty should be measured by more than income

      Since social scientists and economists began measuring poverty, the definition has never strayed far from a discussion of income.

      New research from Georgia Tech economist Shatakshee Dhongde shows there are multiple components of poverty that more accurately describes a household’s economic condition. Dhongde looks at “deprivation” more than simply low income, and her work finds that almost 15 percent of Americans are deprived in multiple dimensions.

      “This study approaches poverty in a new way,” said Dhongde, who recently published “Multi-Dimensional Deprivation in the U.S.” in the journal Social Indicators Research.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • ‘None of the old rules apply’: Dave Eggers travels through post-election America

      It was different in 2008. Knowing that Michigan was securely in Obama’s column and Ohio was on the bubble, Rob and Jenny went to Toledo to knock on doors in trailer parks and housing projects. Foreclosure signs were common. When they introduced themselves as canvassers for Obama, the residents, all of them white, were welcoming and chatty. “The interactions were long,” Mickey said. “The people were worried and they wanted to talk.” Ohio’s 18 electoral votes went to Obama in 2008 and 2012.

      “This campaign wore a lot of people down,” Mickey said. “The state was bombarded by pro-Clinton ads, but she failed to offer any sustained and coherent economic message. She said, ‘I’m not crazy’ and ‘I’m not a sexist racist pig’, but for working class whites that’s not enough. I would say that of the people who slammed their doors on me, most of them didn’t vote for either candidate.”

    • Lashing Out at ‘Identity Politics,’ Pundits Blame Trump on Those Most Vulnerable to Trump

      Over the past two weeks, pundits from all ends of the spectrum have been scrambling to explain Clinton’s unexpected loss, with reasons spanning from the plausible to the highly dubious; WikiLeaks, Bernie Sanders, fake news, Jill Stein, Russia, bad algorithms and the FBI have all been accused of having sole or part responsibility. Lately, however, a new, entirely bogus culprit has emerged from center and center-left circles: “identity politics” and its close cousin, “political correctness.”

    • Those Damn Emails

      Clinton supporters were surprised the emails mattered at all, because they had been fed a regular and often fully-factually wrong diet by the majority of the media. There was some good reporting on what the emails meant, and how classification works, but it was almost all on right-of-center websites Clinton people did not read, and blithely dismissed as biased when the sites were brought to their attention. And yeah, sometimes things got a bit too partisan in tone, but the facts were also there.

    • Hamilton vs Trump

      “Apologize!” was President elect Donald Trump conclusion of two messages he wrote to the cast of Hamilton, one of the most successful Broadway musicals in recent times. He was thus responding to the incident in which actor Brandon Victor Dixon, that played Vice President Aaron Burr, addressed the audience of the show.

      At the end of last Friday’s performance, noting that Vice President-elect Mike Pence was in the audience, he used the opportunity to thank Mr. Pence for attending the show and told him, “We hope you will hear us out.”

      And then Dixon added, “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.”

    • For Many Americans, A Day to Forget
    • A Victory for ‘White’ America

      My reaction four days out from the moral tragedy of Donald Trump’s election as President is this: we are two nations, not one nation. On Nov. 8, 2016, one nation, a very white, very gerrymandered nation, braced by feeble voter turnout, conquered the other.

      The conquest will continue for at least a generation since it includes control of the U.S. Supreme Court. Mid-term elections may bring minor relief (or possibly not because Senate Democrats have far more seats to defend than Republicans) but the conquering nation knows that the Supreme Court and other judges pipe the tune to which all must dance.

    • Trump Can’t Hear What the Cast of “Hamilton” Tried to Tell Him

      The message, written by the show’s creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, with input from the cast and crew, certainly reached Trump Tower, less than a mile away from the Richard Rodgers Theater, since it inspired a fit from the man whose divisive campaign stirred the alarm and anxiety the cast described, Donald Trump.

      Despite the intensely civil tone of this act of dissent, Trump inaccurately claimed that Pence “was harassed” by the cast of the play, and then described their plea for tolerance as “very rude,” before demanding an apology.

    • We Cannot “Give Trump a Chance”

      In the ten days since the election, several thousand people have phoned and emailed my Seattle City Council office in their fury over my call to shut down Donald Trump’s agenda with massive peaceful protests on Inauguration Day.

      Many messages were from middle- and working-class people who had voted for Trump because they hated corporate Democrats and Hillary Clinton, and mistakenly believed that Trump was going to stand up for the ordinary Americans. Many were also racist and misogynist, saying things like, “You don’t belong here with the bull***t you spew from your c***su**er,” or “Drop dead and go back to turbanville.”

      Call after call, while having zero tolerance for bigotry and threats, my staff patiently explained to the more reasonable Trump supporters that we agree working people have been sold out by corporate politicians. That we completely oppose the bipartisan, big business policies of “free trade” deals like the TPP and NAFTA, corporate tax handouts, and the close ties of both parties to Wall Street. Callers were surprised to learn that while I fiercely oppose Trump, I did not back Hillary Clinton (I campaigned for Bernie Sanders, and later Jill Stein). Many were simply not reachable, as they spewed hate on all those protesting their president-elect. They will have to experience Donald Trump’s policies in office to see him for what he is: a con man and representative of the billionaire class who sold the lie that he will bring back the American Dream.

      My first grim thoughts as I saw some of the horrifying emails was that I will be far from the only person targeted after the dangerous rise of Donald Trump. Bigots are feeling emboldened. Already a surge in bullying and hate crimes has taken place, and the KKK felt confident to hold a rally in North Carolina to celebrate Trump’s victory.

    • Trump Assembling Team of ‘Swamp Creatures,’ Says Ellison

      Forget “draining the swamp,” President-elect Donald Trump is building a cabinet full of “more swamp creatures than ever before,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

      Appearing on the morning show, the progressive lawmaker, who is running to chair the Democratic National Committee (DNC), said, “Donald Trump has already proven where he’s going with this thing,” based on the nominees thus far.

      “He has lobbyists and big-time investment bankers,” Ellison continued, pointing to the recent Politico article, “Why Wall Street is Suddenly in Love with Trump.”

      “He’s not doing what he’s said he’s gonna do for average working Americans,” he added.

    • Meet the Candidate For Attorney General Who’s Hunted Quail with Corporate Donors

      While Donald Trump was running for the White House, he bashed politicians who courted the billionaire Koch brothers as “puppets” and vowed to “drain the swamp” in Washington by squelching cozy relationships between lobbyists and elected officials.

      Take, for example, Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, who is reportedly on the short list to become Trump’s attorney general.

      Last month, Kobach was among a group of Republican secretaries of state who spent the weekend hunting pheasant and quail and shooting clay pigeons with corporate donors at a Kansas lodge, a getaway funded by industry groups.

      The attendees included Allen Richardson, a lobbyist for Koch Industries, who joked about keeping the guest list secret. “The Koch brothers out with the Republican secretaries of state — that’s a news story I don’t need,” he said, unaware that a ProPublica reporter was in attendance.

    • Switzerland not so neutral with Clinton Foundation donation

      An agency overseen by the Swiss foreign ministry made a hefty donation to the Clinton Foundation — at the same time the US and Switzerland were in the midst of a diplomatic struggle over tax evasion.

      The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation shelled out about $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation in 2011, money earmarked for a program that sought to lower mortality for mothers and infants in Liberia, the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper discovered on Sunday, according to The Local.

      The payment was made when the US government was pressuring Swiss banks to hand over customer info, after allegations arose that Swiss banks were being used to help avoid US taxes.

    • The Dark Money Cabinet

      uring the Presidential primaries, Donald Trump mocked his Republican rivals as “puppets” for flocking to a secretive fund-raising session sponsored by Charles and David Koch, the billionaire co-owners of the energy conglomerate Koch Industries. Affronted, the Koch brothers, whose political spending has made their name a shorthand for special-interest clout, withheld their financial support from Trump. But on Tuesday night David Koch was reportedly among the revellers at Trump’s victory party in a Hilton Hotel in New York.

      Trump campaigned by attacking the big donors, corporate lobbyists, and political-action committees as “very corrupt.” In a tweet on October 18th, he promised, “I will Make Our Government Honest Again—believe me. But first I’m going to have to #DrainTheSwamp.” His DrainTheSwamp hashtag became a rallying cry for supporters intent on ridding Washington of corruption. But Ann Ravel, a Democratic member of the Federal Elections Commission who has championed reform of political money, says that “the alligators are multiplying.”

    • What Student Protests Tell Us About America Under Trump

      There is little doubt that Trumps’ campaign and subsequent election have brought trauma into public education at all levels.

      “The country has elected a man who threaded racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic messages and mockery of disabled people through his campaign,” writes Emily Bazelon for the New York Times.. “Donald J. Trump’s victory gives others license to do the same,”

      Bazelon, a Times staff writer and author of a highly regarded book on bullying explains that characteristics Trump targeted for insults and inflammatory rhetoric – being non-white, gay, or disabled – describe students who are most apt to be bullied and abused in schools. She cites numerous examples of harassment and racist displays in schools since the election.

      An article for Mother Jones reports, “Bullying in schools is out of control since the election,” and cites examples of racist incidents and actions in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Oregon.

    • Who’s to Blame for President Trump?

      First, as Wikileaks has proven without a shadow of a doubt, it is clear that the DNC colluded with the Clinton campaign as well as with highly placed sources at CNN to fatally undermine and sabotage the progressive insurgency campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

    • Swedish company Tetrapak linked to Clinton Foundation Haiti Operations. More on Ericsson

      This article reports the link found between the Swedish company Tetrapak (also know as Tetra Pak) with the Clinton Foundation, as it is indicated in a document newly released by the US Department of State to the organization Judicial Watch, after a federal order (details down below). I am also reporting, based in document I found at the Freedom of Information Act, on the economic consequences for Haiti due to expanded credits given to the giant Swedish company Ericsson.

    • President-elect: I had to settle Trump University case ‘to focus on our country’

      President-elect Donald Trump sounded off on his $25m payout to students who accused him of fraud on Saturday, as he prepared for a meeting with former foe Mitt Romney, tipped as a possible nominee for secretary of state.

      On Friday the US president-elect settled class-action fraud lawsuits relating to his Trump University for $25m, avoiding the public embarrassment of having to testify in court, despite having previously vowed to fight the cases to the end.

      On Saturday he sought to explain in a tweet: “I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential award because as President I have to focus on our country.”

    • Ivanka isn’t the only reason these photos of Trump meeting Abe are problematic

      Trump also hasn’t done much to reassure the public about potential conflicts of interest: As many pointed out, his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner feature prominently in photos of the diplomatic meeting.

      Presidential family members often interact with foreign leaders at state dinners, but Ivanka is more than family—she represents Trump’s private business interests. While part of Trump’s transition team, she is one of three Trump kids slated to run his private business after Jan. 20. Her own business recently was forced to apologize for turning media appearances about her father’s presidency into a sales opportunity.

    • Lucy Kellaway to leave the Financial Times to become a teacher

      Lucy Kellaway, the columnist and associate editor of the Financial Times, is leaving the newspaper after 31 years.

      From next summer, she will begin a new career as a maths teacher in a “challenging” London secondary school. In so doing, she will be acting as a pioneer for the charity Now Teach, which she co-founded earlier this year.

      It was set up to encourage high-flying professionals in the business world to retrain as teachers and help to address the shortage of maths and science teachers.

      Kellaway said: “I’ve had one of the nicest jobs in journalism by writing a column for 22 years. I love it, but I don’t want to spend my entire life doing it.

      “I think teaching is hugely important and I’m in the luxurious position of being able to take on the task. My mother was a teacher. One of my daughters is a teacher. It’s in the family, and I’m very excited about making this move.”

      Kellaway’s columns, poking fun at modern corporate culture, have long been regarded as a jewel in the FT’s crown. Editor Lionel Barber describes her as “a unique voice for the business community.”

    • Extreme Center Goes After Anti-Trump Protesters

      After Donald Trump’s surprise victory last week, protests against his pending presidency—and against the racism, misogyny and xenophobia he embodies—popped up from New York City to Portland to Kansas City to Austin to Nashville. Thousands of protesters gathered under the banner of #NotMyPresident, expressly rejecting the Trump administration’s agenda of, among other things, forced deportations, Muslim bans and attacks on women’s reproductive rights.

      On cue, several center and center-left pundits jumped in to call into question and concern-troll this exercise of dissent and its sometimes “violent” excesses of property damage.

    • TV Pundits Eager to Make Trump the New ‘Normal’

      After wrongly predicting the election, political pundits are returning to TV talkshows to explain what will happen under a Trump presidency. But these predictions aren’t like TV anchors predicting the weather; these forecasts have a profound impact on the public reception to the Trump administration and the future course of US politics.

      The danger is that by normalizing Trump—a candidate distinguished by an embrace of political violence and open appeals to ethnic nationalism who boasted of getting away with sexual assaults—these commentators will make racist and sexist bullying an acceptable way to run for public office.

    • 2016 the year everyone got interested.

      Some people wondered why the “losing” side to Brexit or the US Elections complained, moaned and did not accept the result. This is quite simple when you boil it down to the fact both were only a binary choice question, this is clearly going to be divisive by nature!

    • Sanders Draws Massive Crowds as Progressives Prepare to Fight Trump

      The election of a right-wing, repressive government led by President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-dominated Congress has the American left searching for ways to mount a resistance and regain ground in future elections.

      Many have found an answer in progressive figures such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), it seems, as crowds of young people are once again gathering to hear the senator speak.

      The senator has spoken out multiple times in the days since Trump’s election, arguing that the Democratic party needs to make greater efforts to reach working-class people and overhaul its leadership; vowing that progressives will “not go silently into the night”; and promising to resist Trump’s repressive, right-wing policy plans.

      The Democratic Party, which spurned Sanders’ campaign during the primary, has elevated the senator to a leadership position within the party.

    • Resisting Despair: Speaking Truth in the Face of Trump

      The attacks keep coming. A few blocks from my apartment in Michigan, a white man threatened to light a Muslim woman on fire if she did not remove her hijab. In California, my friend comforted a mother whose high-school-age daughter and her friend got yelled at in the grocery store parking lot by a man screaming, “Get out of here, lesbian bitches, you know Trump is president and that isn’t going to be allowed anymore.” My heart sinks with each new report of anti-Muslim, anti-Black, anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ attacks involving direct references to Trump and his campaign slogans. As we countenance a president who has embraced a curator of white supremacist propaganda as his chief White House strategist, and who plans to enact xenophobic attacks on a mass scale, I see Truthout’s role as twofold. First, we must resist the normalization of state-sanctioned violence and white supremacy. We can do so by publishing investigative reports and analyses that center the words of people directly affected by this violence. Second, we must resist despair by reporting on concrete acts of mass resistance that can be joined and copied by others. As a commissioning editor, I will be seeking out these stories in the days and months to come.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Acclaimed Brazilian film makes splash despite political battles and cries of censorship

      An internationally acclaimed Brazilian film received the equivalent of an X rating, perhaps because of a political stand taken by the cast. But despite the controversy and alleged censorship surrounding Kleber Mendonca Filho’s “Aquarius,” it has made a big splash at the box office in a large and growing market that usually has more conservative tastes.

    • Germany Wants To Hold Facebook Criminally Liable If It Doesn’t Find & Delete ‘Hate’ Speech

      We’ve been pointing out that in the rush to claim that Facebook is a media company that must take responsibility for the content that is posted and shared on the site, there’s really an implicit call for blocking content that is somehow deemed “bad.” People keep acting like Facebook, rather than its users, has the responsibility to edit what is on the site. That’s dangerous — and for yet another example of how, we’ve now got a German official saying that Facebook has to be classified as a media property and be held criminally liable if it doesn’t magically delete “hate speech.”

      This is really, really dangerous. Yes, we know that Germany has much stricter hate speech laws, but if you have to have them, at least hold the proper party responsible: those doing the speaking (and, yes, as we’ve pointed out repeatedly, hate speech laws are almost always abused by governments to silence and punish people they don’t like). Facebook, to some extent, has brought this on itself. In the past, it’s made promises, to Germany in particular about how it will help curb “hate speech” on the site. And, eventually, the government is going to get upset and say “you’re not doing enough.” Earlier this year, Facebook (along with Google, Microsoft, and Twitter) tried to appease European bureaucrats by signing an agreement to respond to complaints of hate speech within 24 hours. But now officials want more. Because once you give governments the power to censor speech, they’re always going to want more.

    • Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s fake news: We’re working on it

      Buzzfeed found that the most-shared Facebook stories have been bogus pro-Trump articles, some of them produced by a fake-news mill run by Macedonian teenagers. A man who makes $10,000 a month writing bogus news opened up to a Washington Post reporter about his conflicted feelings. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) suggested the media take note of “paid rioting”—referring to the persistent, yet evidence-free idea that anti-Trump activists were bused-in, paid protesters.

    • Citizen Lab uncovers censorship across Chinese live-streaming apps

      The Citizen Lab, a research centre based at U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs, has published a report following a year-long investigation into censorship practices concerning Chinese live-streaming applications Sina Show, YY, and, 9158.

      Citizen Lab’s research was done by reverse-engineering the applications in order to examine the scripts that facilitate censorship, such as keyword bans which were on the client-side and therefore completely accessible to researchers after the reverse-engineering process.

      The popularity of live-streaming using these applications has risen exponentially, with people using them to perform and share glimpses into their everyday lives.

    • NYT Advocates Internet Censorship

      The New York Times wants a system of censorship for the Internet to block what it calls “fake news,” but the Times ignores its own record of publishing “fake news,” reports Robert Parry.

    • A moment of truth amid the fake news for Mark Zuckerberg


      Well, the election is over; now we’re knee-deep in postmortems. Every mainstream publication and every corner of the blogosphere is full of autopsies. Many of these investigations have an anguished “How could this have happened?” tone. American students in a university department adjacent to mine have decorated the trees outside with hundreds of distraught but determinedly forward-looking messages. “Love WILL Conquer!” says one. “Knowledge not Ignorance,” says another.

      I don’t propose to add to this genre. If you want an informed, dispassionate analysis of the campaign that has given Trump the keys to the kingdom, look no further than an essay by Professor Charlie Beckett of the LSE on that institution’s Polis blog. It’s worth reading in full, but for those who are pressed for time, the gist is: “Trump had the better politics. Tactically, strategically, personally, policy-wise. He won partly because the Democrats and Hillary Clinton got most of that wrong, but mainly because he did best what you are supposed to do in an election: convince people to vote for you. They (and he) knew what they were doing.”

    • According to Snopes, Fake News Is Not the Problem

      The day after the election, news began swirling around social media that New York Times columnist David Brooks had called for President-elect Donald Trump’s assassination. Snopes managing editor Brooke Binkowski had a feeling it was fake. Because, come on now, would a prominent columnist for a reputable news outlet really make that kind of comment?

      Snopes has made its business out of correcting the misunderstood satire, malicious falsehoods, and poorly informed gossip that echoes across the internet — and that business is booming. Traffic jumped 85 percent over the past year to 13.6 million unique visitors in October, according to comScore. The site supports itself through advertising, and in the last three years it has made enough money to quadruple the size of its staff.

      Sure enough, a bit of Snopes reporting revealed that Brooks had written a column saying Trump would likely resign or be impeached within a year. A news item published on The Rightists claimed Brooks had then said in an interview for KYRQ Radio New York that Trump should be killed. Snopes found The Rightists doesn’t even pretend to traffic in truth. In the site’s “about” section, it describes itself this way: “This is HYBRID site of news and satire. part [sic] of our stories already happens, part, not yet. NOT all of our stories are true!” What’s more, the story’s facts didn’t add up. For example, the site claimed Brooks had made the comments on a radio station — KYRQ — that didn’t exist.

    • What Peter Thiel’s Appointment Could Mean For Freedom Of Speech

      As Donald Trump commences his ghastly slouch toward Washington, a coterie of sycophants snatches at his coattails: Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie—we knew this particular trio would scurry after heightened relevance and authority. Unsurprisingly, all three have slavered their way to the president-elect’s transition team, and possibly into the Cabinet. Less expected, perhaps, was billionaire PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s recent appointment to the same advisory committee. And yet, an alliance between Trump and Thiel, however appalling, seems so fitting that hindsight renders it almost preordained.

      We can surmise that Thiel’s explicit relevance to the team resides in his connection to Silicon Valley. Fervently supportive of President Obama, the technology hub does not regard Trump with the same beam of approval; on the contrary, it’s deeply dismayed by his ascendance to the presidency. Apart from his evident love affair with Twitter, Trump oscillates in his position on technology’s consequence to modern life. He has also threatened to renegotiate international trade agreements beneficial to the tech industry. Apple, in particular, fears that it will be barred from overseas production (this might not be a bad thing, considering the working conditions of so many foreign factories).

      Theoretically, Thiel will forge a more congenial relationship between his Silicon Valley colleagues and the incoming executive administration. He has previously claimed that his outlier status as a Trump-supporting libertarian has not blighted his business relationships. That said, it’s difficult to conceive of Thiel as possessing much social capital or political influence amid such a staunchly liberal community. And, in any case, would Silicon Valley be cajoled into cooperation with Trump? That remains to be seen.

    • UK Piracy Blocklist Silently Expands With Hundreds of Domains

      UK Internet providers have added close to 500 URLs to the national pirate site blocklist. The expansion follows a request from copyright holders who frequently add new proxies for sites that have previously been barred. Despite this mass-update, the ongoing blocking whack-a-mole is far from over.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • The Secret Agenda of a Facebook Quiz

      Do you panic easily? Do you often feel blue? Do you have a sharp tongue? Do you get chores done right away? Do you believe in the importance of art?

      If ever you’ve answered questions like these on one of the free personality quizzes floating around Facebook, you’ll have learned what’s known as your Ocean score: How you rate according to the big five psychological traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. You may also be responsible the next time America is shocked by an election upset.

      For several years, a data firm eventually hired by the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, has been using Facebook as a tool to build psychological profiles that represent some 230 million adult Americans. A spinoff of a British consulting company and sometime-defense contractor known for its counterterrorism “psy ops” work in Afghanistan, the firm does so by seeding the social network with personality quizzes. Respondents — by now hundreds of thousands of us, mostly female and mostly young but enough male and older for the firm to make inferences about others with similar behaviors and demographics — get a free look at their Ocean scores. Cambridge Analytica also gets a look at their scores and, thanks to Facebook, gains access to their profiles and real names.

      Cambridge Analytica worked on the “Leave” side of the Brexit campaign. In the United States it takes only Republicans as clients: Senator Ted Cruz in the primaries, Mr. Trump in the general election. Cambridge is reportedly backed by Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire and a major Republican donor; a key board member is Stephen K. Bannon, the head of Breitbart News who became Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman and is set to be his chief strategist in the White House.

    • Obama declines comment on reports of possible removal of NSA chief

      U.S. President Barack Obama declined on Sunday to comment on media reports that senior defense and intelligence officials in his administration had requested the removal of National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers.

      Obama called Rogers a “terrific patriot” during a news conference at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, adding he did not generally comment on personnel matters.

    • Former GCHQ spy suspended because of work ‘incident’ found dead in bath

      A FORMER GCHQ spybase worker who had once been suspended because of an “incident” at work was found drowned in his bath – and the front door of his flat was unlocked, an inquest heard yesterday.

    • Theresa May’s Terrible Instincts

      Everything you do on the web is now stored for twelve months by the security services. They can hack into your laptop or phone to see what is on there without any conditions at all. Not only do they not need to convince a judge you are suspected of a crime, they do not need to even pretend to actually suspect you of anything at all. They can just decide to target you and go fishing. The UK has now zero right to online privacy and the most vicious security service powers of any democracy. Indeed when you combine powers with capability (and the security service are recruiting tens of thousands more staff to our stasi state) the UK is now the most authoritarian country in the world. The legislation. passed this week, was framed by Theresa May as Home Secretary and received no significant opposition from the UK’s complicit political class.

    • Self-censorship dangerous for journalism and democracy: Joseph [Ed: surveillance is made to induce exactly that]

      Veteran investigative journalist Josy Joseph today said self-censorship, which had become the norm across newsrooms, was dangerous for both journalism and democracy.

      “Once journalist gets a job, he has a bank loan and has to pay EMI. So his concern is to protect his salary. So, he starts self-censorship within himself,” he said.

      “Then when once he goes into newsroom, the editors bring in their vested interest. So there is large and very powerful self-censorship that rules newsroom and I think it is dangerous for both democracy and journalism,” said Joseph, whose book on corruption in India released recently.

      He was speaking during a discussion on “Investigative journalistic stories that never saw light of the day” at Tata Lit-fest here.

      Joseph’s book “A Feast of Vultures: The Hidden Business of Democracy in India” examines and documents the corruption within the Indian democracy.

    • Battle erupts as Trump considers NSA chief for top intelligence post
    • Intelligence battle erupts as Trump considers NSA chief for top intel post
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Congress Needs More Information Before the Government’s New Hacking Powers Kick in [Ed: Older but relevant]

      The federal government is set to get massively expanded hacking powers later this year. Thankfully, members of Congress are starting to ask questions.

      In a letter this week to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, 23 members of Congress—including Sens. Ron Wyden and Patrick Leahy and Rep. John Conyers—pressed for more information and said they “are concerned about the full scope of the new authority” under pending changes to federal investigation rules.

      The Department of Justice kickstarted this process by proposing changes to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which governs how the government obtains search warrants from federal magistrate judges. Specifically, the changes to Rule 41 would let judges grant warrants allowing the government to remotely hack into and search computers and other devices when those devices are part of a “bot-net” or when the government isn’t sure where the devices are located.

    • President Obama Claims He Cannot Pardon Snowden; He’s Wrong

      There may be reasons why the President doesn’t wish to grant a pardon to Snowden, but his stated reasons are completely bogus.

    • Trump’s Picks For AG & CIA Happy To Undermine Civil Liberties, Increase Surveillance

      This is (unfortunately) not a huge surprise, but it appears that a Trump administration is going to be much worse for civil liberties and surveillance. Earlier today, Donald Trump named his choices to head the CIA — Rep. Mike Pompeo — and to be the next Attorney General — Senator Jeff Sessions — and both have terrible records on surveillance, civil liberties and whistleblowing. They also are problematic in other areas, but in the areas where we cover, it’s not looking good.

    • Chagossians Have No Right of Self-Determination

      The debate starts at 10.34 – if you put the cursor to the bottom of the picture a slider appears. It is excruciating to watch. In an unusually full House of Commons (not a high bar) there is indignation and real anger on all sides, with even Tories describing the decision to continue the eviction of the Chagos islanders as “dishonourable”.

      The government argues that the Chagossians are not “a people” distinct from the Mauritians, therefore they do not have a right of self-determination. This piece of sophistry is designed to answer the obvious question of why the Chagossians have less rights than the Falkland Islanders or Gibraltarians. The actual answer – that the Chagossians are not white – is not one the government wishes to give. It also begs the question, if the Chagossians are Mauritians, why are the islands not a part of Mauritius?

      The government produced a paper on prospective resettlement, imposing arbitrary conditions on where and how the Chagossians could live designed to make life as difficult as possible. Those conditions included that there could be no civilian use of the airstrip – which I am glad to see Alex Salmond challenged in the Commons. Chagossians could work at the US airbase, but only on condition their partners and children would not be permitted to be with them. Fishing – their traditional activity – will be banned by the UK government’s marine reserve.

    • Spinning Bannon as ‘Provocateur’ Who ‘Relishes Combativeness’

      There’s a difference between bad news and bad reporting. We’re seeing a lot of both these days, as each Trump Cabinet choice hurls us deeper into dystopia.

      For example: How do you describe a man who propagates white supremacy, misogyny and antisemitism? If you’re the New York Times, you call him a “provocateur.” If you’re the AP, you say his hire is evidence of Trump’s “brash, outsider instincts.”

      Stephen Bannon, the Trump campaign chief executive and recently named “Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor” for the Trump White House, has declared of Breitbart, the website he still heads, “We’re the platform for the alt-right”—that being, by Breitbart’s own description, a coalition of advocates of “scientific race differences” with those who “believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved” and online traffickers in racist and antisemitic stereotypes and harassment, along with a significant admixture of pro-Hitler neo-Nazis.

    • CBS Evening News Provides Platform For White Nationalist To Spin, Without Pressing Him On Racist Views

      CBS News provided alt-right white nationalist Richard Spencer with a platform to normalize his racist political movement and praise President-elect Trump without pressing him on his racists comments and stances.

    • Kica Matos on Immigration, Sue Udry on Civil Liberties–Under Trump

      This week on CounterSpin: Donald Trump spent his entire campaign demonizing immigrants as dangerous, job-stealing criminals. While denouncing that, media sometimes dismissed it as mainly campaign rhetoric. Will they take the story seriously enough as a Trump administration tries to turn those ideas into policy? We’ll hear from Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights and racial justice at the Center for Community Change.

    • Jewish historians speak out on the election of Donald Trump

      As scholars of Jewish history, we are acutely attuned to the fragility of democracies and the consequences for minorities when democracies fail to live up to their highest principles. The United States has a fraught history with respect to Native Americans, African Americans and other ethnic and religious minorities. But this country was founded on ideals of liberty and justice and has made slow, often painful progress to achieve them by righting historic wrongs and creating equal rights and opportunities for all. No group has been more fortunate in benefiting from this progress than American Jews. Excluded by anti-Semitism from many professions and social organizations before the Second World War, Jews in the postwar period became part of the American majority, flourishing economically and politically and accepted socially. There are now virtually no corners of American life to which Jews cannot gain entry. But mindful of the long history of their oppression, Jews have often been at the forefront of the fight for the rights of others in this country.

      In the wake of Donald Trump’s electoral victory, it is time to re-evaluate where the country stands. The election campaign was marked by unprecedented expressions of racial, ethnic, gender-based, and religious hatred, some coming from the candidate and some from his supporters, against Muslims, Latinos, women, and others. In the days since the election, there have been numerous attacks on immigrant groups, some of which likely drew inspiration from the elevation of Mr. Trump to the presidency of the United States.

    • Career Racist Jeff Sessions Is Donald Trump’s Pick For Attorney General
    • Grassroots Digital Rights Alliance Expands Across U.S.

      Observers around the world are scrutinizing the President-elect’s transition team and prospects for digital rights under the incoming administration. Trump’s campaign statements offered few reasons to be optimistic about the next administration’s commitments, making the unrestrained domestic secret surveillance regime that President Trump will inherit an even greater threat not only to privacy, but also dissent, individual autonomy and freedom of conscience, and—ultimately—our democracy.

      At EFF, we have committed ourselves to redoubling our efforts to defend digital rights. We know, however, that it will take the concerted actions of our supporters to help our goals find their reflection in law, policy, technology, and culture.

      That’s why we launched the Electronic Frontier Alliance (EFA), a network of grassroots groups taking action in their local communities to promote digital rights.

    • Troubling Study Says Artificial Intelligence Can Predict Who Will Be Criminals Based on Facial Features

      The fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning are moving so quickly that any notion of ethics is lagging decades behind, or left to works of science fiction. This might explain a new study out of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, which says computers can tell whether you will be a criminal based on nothing more than your facial features.

      The bankrupt attempt to infer moral qualities from physiology was a popular pursuit for millennia, particularly among those who wanted to justify the supremacy of one racial group over another. But phrenology, which involved studying the cranium to determine someone’s character and intelligence, was debunked around the time of the Industrial Revolution, and few outside of the pseudo-scientific fringe would still claim that the shape of your mouth or size of your eyelids might predict whether you’ll become a rapist or thief.

      Not so in the modern age of Artificial Intelligence, apparently: In a paper titled “Automated Inference on Criminality using Face Images,” two Shanghai Jiao Tong University researchers say they fed “facial images of 1,856 real persons” into computers and found “some discriminating structural features for predicting criminality, such as lip curvature, eye inner corner distance, and the so-called nose-mouth angle.” They conclude that “all four classifiers perform consistently well and produce evidence for the validity of automated face-induced inference on criminality, despite the historical controversy surrounding the topic.”

    • Officer Put on Leave After Video Shows Him Punching Woman in Face During Eviction

      An officer with the Flagstaff police department in Arizona has been put on leave following the release of video footage taken by an eye witness that showed him punching a woman in the face during an arrest earlier this week.

    • Hey, Trump Told, ‘Get Your Daughter the F$%k Out of State Meetings!’

      U.S. News & World Report writes that “Ivanka Trump’s presence at the meeting was only made public when the Japanese government released photos, as the Trump team has continued to bar journalists from witnessing all but the most superficial aspects of the transition.”

      CBS News describes her presence, along with that of her husband, Jared Kushner, as “a reminder of potential conflicts of interest between Donald Trump’s businesses and the White House” as well as his adult children’s future roles in the White House.

      Ivanka and Kushner are on the Trump transition team’s executive committee.

      “Their involvement raises a host of ethical questions,” Emily Jane Fox writes at Vanity Fair, as “it appears to violate the 1967 nepotism law put in place after John Kennedy installed his kid brother Bobby as attorney general.” There’s also the fact that Ivanka, along with her two brothers, will reportedly run the real estate mogul’s business empire in a “blind trust.”

      “Which, as you hardly need to be sharp-eyed to point out, makes it a bit odd that she’s sitting in on presidential state business,” Marine Hyde writes at the Guardian.

      Hyde added, “Before you could say ‘conflict of interests’, America’s most dysfunctional family have already begun blurring the lines between politics and business”

    • Killing Dylann Roof Wouldn’t Help Racial Injustice

      The impact of race on criminal justice is one of the hottest topics of our time. Today’s police-shooting videos have not revealed something new, they have revealed, in a new way, a legacy of racial hatred and violence that is embedded in our nation’s DNA, and more and more Americans are waking up to that fact. So, if we are ready to address the impact of racism in the criminal justice system, what do the remedies look like?

      Let me tell you one thing that will not work—sentencing Dylann Roof to death. Jury selection for his federal death penalty case in the Charleston shooting last summer starts on Nov. 7.

    • Donald Trump’s Mass Deportations Would Cost Billions and Take Years to Process

      And while the president-elect’s comments, rhetoric, and choice of advisers, have fueled panic among immigrant communities across the country, many are quick to point out that he is only going to exacerbate a broken system that’s already been defined by rogue enforcement agencies and rampant abuse for years.

      “Obama built a horrible machine already,” said Danny Cendejas, an organizer with Detention Watch Network, a group that fights immigration detention and deportations nationwide. “Trump will just take it, and take it to a much more horrifying level.”

      In fact, what Trump is proposing is not very different from what has already been happening under the Obama administration, which has prioritized the deportation of undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions. But there simply aren’t two to three million of them. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the number of undocumented people with criminal records is closer to 820,000, and even then many of those people are not the “rapists” and “criminals” Trump would have us believe but are guilty instead of “status crimes,” like driving without a license in states that won’t allow undocumented people to get one, or entering the country illegally.

    • As Schools See Hate-Fueled Attacks Rise, Millions Demand Trump Speak Out

      And while Trump “spoke against bullying, intimidation, and hate crimes” during his “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday, his appointment of alt-right “hero” Stephen Bannon to chief strategist “sends the exact opposite message,” the letter charges.

      “The presidency is about many things,” it concludes. “Chiefly, it is about setting an example through your leadership. You have said that you will be the president for all Americans, Mr. Trump. We ask that you keep your promise by loudly, forcefully, unequivocally, and consistently denouncing these acts and the ideology that drives them. We ask you to use your position, your considerable platform, and even your tweets to send a clear message that hate has no place in our public discourse, in our public policy, or in our society.”

    • None of This Is Normal. All of It Is Un-American.

      Journalists who investigated Trump, his businesses, family and associates have been mailed anti-Semitic screeds or threatened with violence and even death. Women who have reported on Trump have been sent the vilest sexist epithets. Kshama Sawant, the socialist city council member from Seattle who recently urged protests at Trump’s inauguration in January has been targeted for email and phone attacks, some of which have suggested that she kill herself.

      Just about everyone I know has a story or two or three from the last week and a half. My friend Deana tells of a part-Asian co-worker swung at by a white male who mistook him as being from the Middle East, of a friend’s boyfriend who was told to “Go back to Africa” on his Facebook page, of another friend’s middle-school-aged daughter and other girls who were pushed around by boys in her class, some wearing Trump T-shirts and shouting hateful things about women.

    • Digital Security Tips for Protesters

      After the election, individuals took to the streets across the country to express their outrage and disappointment at the result of the U.S. presidential election. Many protesters may not be aware of the unfortunate fact that exercising their First Amendment rights may open themselves up to certain risks. Those engaging in peaceful protest may be subject to search or arrest, have their movements and associations mapped, or otherwise become targets of surveillance and repression. It is important that in a democracy citizens exercise their right to peaceably assemble, and demonstrators should be aware of a few precautions they can take to keep themselves and their data safe. Here we present 10 security tips for protesting in the digital age.


      If you’re really concerned with the data stored on your device, don’t bring it at all and pick up a prepaid mobile phone. These lower-end devices can be purchased along with a SIM card at most large retail stores, and current federal regulation does not require you to show your ID (but your state may). Let your friends know your temporary number, and use this to coordinate activities. Remember that the location of mobile devices can be determined by the cell towers they connect to, so if you don’t want your identity known, turn off your prepaid device before going home or anywhere that might lead to your identity. Using GPS should be safe, since GPS is a receiver and does not transmit any information, but your device may store your coordinates. For this reason, we suggest you turn off location services. When you’re done with the phone, it can be safely recycled or discarded from a location that is not linked to you. Keep in mind that if you carry both your regular device and a prepaid one with you, the location of these devices can be correlated as a way to compromise your anonymity.

    • Clemency Applicants Urge Obama to Act Before Trump Presidency Crushes Hope

      When Brigitte Barren Williams realized Donald Trump had won the presidential election, “it felt like somebody let the air out of a balloon,” she said. Her brother, David Barren, is locked up at a federal prison in West Virginia, serving life plus 20 years on federal drug conspiracy charges. Now in his 50s, Barren has served almost 10 years of his sentence — the minimum portion required before he is eligible to seek a commutation under President Obama’s clemency initiative.

      Tens of thousands of people convicted of nonviolent federal drug crimes have sought mercy under the program, which was announced in April 2014. Obama ramped up his commutations in advance of the election, and Williams prayed with each clemency announcement that her brother’s name might be on the list. After the last round came out, on November 4, Williams was forced to hope that if Obama didn’t grant her brother clemency, perhaps his successor might.

      But the chances of that almost certainly dissolved on election night. Trump has called the clemency recipients “bad dudes,” warning one audience this summer that “they’re walking the streets. Sleep tight, folks.” After winning the White House on such fearmongering rhetoric — and promptly naming a white supremacist to his cabinet — Trump chose Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as his attorney general, an opponent of criminal justice reform and defender of mandatory minimums. There is little reason to believe President Trump will show mercy to people like Barren.

      Yet Williams remains steadfast in her belief that her brother will come home. “We are a family of very strong faith,” she said. Besides, her fight does not end with his freedom. There are too many others in his position. “We have to continue making sure people care.”

      Williams spoke over the phone from Washington, D.C., where she had traveled from Pittsburgh for a series of public events under the theme “Hope for the Holidays.” The advocacy group #cut50, which aims to slash the incarcerated population in half, had organized the series, where participants urged Obama to commute as many sentences as possible in the remaining weeks of his presidency.

    • Installing a Torture Fan at CIA

      President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo, an open aficionado of torture practices used in the “war on terror,” to be CIA director shows that Trump was serious when he said he would support “waterboarding and much worse.”

      Earlier, there had been a sliver of hope that that, while on the campaign trail, Trump was simply playing to the basest instincts of many Americans who have been brainwashed – by media, politicians, and the CIA itself – into believing that torture “works.” The hope was that the person whom Trump would appoint to head the agency would disabuse him regarding both the efficacy and the legality of torture.

    • Obama says he can’t pardon Snowden

      A campaign to pardon NSA leaker Edward Snowden, launched in combination with a fawning Oliver Stone film about him, hasn’t made any headway. The request spurred the entire membership of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, 13 Republicans and 9 Democrats, to send a letter to President Barack Obama urging against a pardon. “He is a criminal,” they stated flatly.

    • A country with perfect law enforcement based on perfect surveillance will stop dead in its tracks

      Britain passed the Snooper’s Charter, as expected. Legislators worldwide are making the crucial mistake of seeing privacy as an individual luxury, instead of as a collective necessity: a country that increases its surveillance reduces its pace of progression and competitiveness, and does so at its peril, even disregarding the human rights angle.

      The United Kingdom, on its third attempt, just passed the worst mass-surveillance legislation seen in a democracy – the so-called “Snooper’s Charter”. There is a belief that such intrusion is necessary for the development of society, and that privacy is an individual luxury. Nothing could be further from the truth: privacy is a collective necessity, for society does not develop without it.

    • Rail bosses wanted to spy on sex lives of people who opposed controversial route

      The information gathered would include details of their sex lives, mental health and political views.

      An extraordinary document was published by HS2 detailing how they would access and “process personal data” including details of individuals’ sexual orientation, trade union affiliation, criminal record as well as information about their physical and mental health.

      As part of the company’s Privacy Notice, HS2 said it could collect this information on a number of people, including staff and suppliers but also complainants and litigants, which would include those claiming compensation or objecting to the scheme.

    • Student jailed after blackmailing schoolgirl, 14, with ‘abuse’ video

      A student has been jailed for blackmailing a 14-year-old schoolgirl into handing over family jewellery after threatening to release a video of her being ‘abused’ on Facebook.

      The young victim claimed she was targeted for sexual exploitation by Mohammed Luqman, 18, over a period of months.

      The Birmingham college student allegedly recorded her being sexually abused and later threatened to release the videos on social media, unless she stole from her family for him.

    • Monkey incident sparks clashes in southern Libyan city of Sabha, 16 dead

      At least 16 people died and 50 were wounded in Libya in four days of clashes between rival factions in the southern city of Sabha, a health official said on Sunday.

      According to residents and local reports, the latest bout of violence erupted between two tribes after an incident in which a monkey that belonged to a shopkeeper from the Gaddadfa tribe attacked a group of schoolgirls who were passing by.

      The monkey pulled off one of the girls’ head scarf, leading men from the Awlad Suleiman tribe to retaliate by killing three people from the Gaddadfa tribe as well as the monkey, according to a resident who spoke to Reuters.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Turning Promises Of Marrakesh Treaty For Visually Impaired Into Reality

        With the recent entry into force of the Marrakesh Treaty providing copyright exceptions for persons with visual impairments, a panel convened alongside last week’s World Intellectual Property Organization copyright committee meeting explored ways to transform the treaty’s promises into reality.

        The WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) met from 14-18 November. The 15 November side event was organised by the Accessible Books Consortium (ABC), which is hosted by WIPO.

      • [Old] EFF to Copyright Office: It’s Time for Real Reform of DMCA 1201

        Over 11,000 People Join EFF’s Call to Protect Security Research and Repair

        San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the U.S. Copyright Office today to protect the public’s right to research and repair everything from phones to refrigerators to tractors, to support the right of people with print disabilities to convert media into an accessible format, and to restore users’ rights to make fair and lawful uses of the software and media they buy.

        EFF’s comments are part of the Copyright Office’s ongoing study into whether the “anti-circumvention” provisions of Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) are working for the public. Section 1201 bans anyone from accessing a copyrighted work when a technology like digital rights management software (DRM) is in place to block access. The law is meant to stop illegal copying, but instead, companies use digital locks in all sorts of products to obstruct those who want to look inside for any reason—blocking competition, innovation, security research, and other legal activities. To vindicate these activities, the public must resort to a burdensome exemption process that allows the digital locks to be broken in certain cases. EFF and a host of other public interest organizations must repeatedly plead for temporary exemptions that expire every three years. Moreover, the law expects users to figure out for themselves how to circumvent digital locks to take advantage of exemptions: no one is allowed to give them the technology to do so.


Cases Against the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Demise of Transparency International (Which EPO Partly ‘Absorbed’)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Article about Transparency International

Summary: Accountability at the EPO takes two steps forward (two new ILO cases) and one step backward (Transparency International going more or less defunct in Germany), but workers continue to speak out and demand change

“EXCEPTIONAL public delivery” from the ILO is expected very soon (later this month). This was mentioned here about a week ago and a few days ago this news from ILO came out, specifying exactly which cases were set apart to be published separately, probably because they are more important. To quote the news:

The Tribunal will exceptionally deliver in public four judgments adopted at its 123rd Session separately and earlier than the remaining 93 judgments adopted at the same session.

The four judgments are:
- No. 3723: Atil No. 2 v. WMO (application for execution of Judgment 3348)
- No. 3750: Mngola v. Global Fund
- No. 3785: Fritz No. 2 v. EPO
- No. 3796: Vermeulen v. EPO

Those judgments will be announced in public on Wednesday, 30 November 2016 at 3 pm at the ILO (Room XI, floor R2).

They will be published on the Tribunal’s website (ilo.org/trib) shortly after the delivery.

Geneva, 15 November 2016

Dražen Petrović, Registrar

These two EPO cases (third and fourth above) are probably of high impact and more profound than, e.g. the van Breda case which SUEPO is pressing on [PDF] (more to do with finance and illness, less with human rights), but we shall know for sure at the end of this month.

“Put simply, the EPO hires some of the potential overseers/critics, which is a common technique that only the affluent can afford to pull off (oil companies habitually do this in countries that they pollute).”Making the EPO wholly accountable or holding particular managers accountable where they deserve it has gotten rather difficult not just because of impunity/immunity (with ILO being years behind, drowning in additional EPO complaints) but also entryism. Put simply, the EPO hires some of the potential overseers/critics, which is a common technique that only the affluent can afford to pull off (oil companies habitually do this in countries that they pollute).

Transparency International (TI) ‘merger’ or overlap with the EPO was noted here before, giving as a prominent example Jana Mittermaier, ex-Transparency International worker and now PR person for the EPO (or “Mittermaier the Liar” as I cautiously called her the other day, after she had relayed the management's lies about its union-busting activity).

“TI, say what?”

That’s what one reader told us about them.

“TI is in crisis, too,” this readers added. “Have you read the very bad news about recent Transparency International “issues”?”

We were actually not aware of it, but it’s very fresh news (days old in the press, as recent as a couple of days ago, i.e. Friday). “Read Stuttgarter Zeitung (in German),” our reader told us, “and perhaps better to understand read in English” the following:

Transparency International is in crisis. The organization needs to cut costs and restructure its international secretariat in Berlin. At the same time, Transparency is fighting against its workers’ council in the local courts. In a bid to ease tensions, Transparency has also now made changes to its leadership.


The current court case in the Berlin labour court highlights the difficulties Transparency has in dealing with its own staff. The organisation is currently restructuring its Berlin-based international secretariat. The secretariat is the backbone of the global organisation, supporting the national chapters in their work. But over time, a number of well-paid executives have assembled near the top during the tenure of managing director Cobus de Swardt, who has been at the helm of Transparency for nearly a decade. This week, the South African national has lost some of his responsibilities to a newly-appointed second managing director, according to information obtained by correctiv.org.

To cut costs, Transparency sought to flatten hierarchies and cut staff. The organisation’s workers council attempted to strengthen employee rights by establishing a so-called finance committee (German: Wirtschaftsausschuss). Such a committee can for example demand management to disclose certain financial information. Transparency’s management is trying to prevent the formation of this committee, even filing a legal case against it.

This bodes negatively not just for the EPO but also for Germany. And it’s not all that much better in The Hague, where a Dutch speaker (speaking on behalf of the EPO) got away with saying on Dutch television that he would snub the highest court in the country!

“A disaster for the whole European Patent system is on its way, watch the soon upcoming decisions of the German Bundesverfassungsgericht on its constitutionaly [sic].”
Neanderthal standards in the Netherlands towards journalists and bloggers too can be tolerated? Remember that the EPO threatens me over my writings about the EPO and it also banned/blocked IP Kat to suppress access/publication. Where were Dutch politicians when the EPO threatened publishers and around the same time spoon-fed Dutch ‘journalists’ some libel to spread (publish) about an accused judge whom Battistelli does not like?

What on Earth has the EPO become and how is it allowed to get away with these actions in supposedly civilised nations that sport international courts? Many EPO insiders keep asking those same kinds of questions. In Merpel’s latest writings there is an implicit/subtle call for outside intervention. There are 20+ comments in that first comment thread (about the accused judge), but to quote a little selectively (there’s some noise among the signal there), this is “so sad” and “disaster for the whole European Patent system is on its way, watch the soon upcoming” (link to comment). The full comment says: “This is all so sad. The mere fact that the members of the boards of appeal just carry dealing with their cases instead of loudly protesting against this incredible situation demonstrates how little remains of their independence and judicial status. A disaster for the whole European Patent system is on its way, watch the soon upcoming decisions of the German Bundesverfassungsgericht on its constitutionaly [sic].”

“In case it is decided to ignore your suggestions at the next administrative council we will have all our answers and better get ready for the end of the EPO.”
In reply to that latter part one person wrote: “Please note that – different from what had been envisaged in the court’s outlook for 2016 – a decision (unfortunately) does not seem to be “soon upcoming” at all. This does not change by frequently claiming that the opposite was the case. Apart from that, bearing in mind the possible political impact of the decision and the manner the German Constitutional Court recently dealt with similar matters, I would be rather sceptical that any meaningful guidance can be expected, let alone a convincing solution.”

There are also some pro-Battistelli comments there (however few) and these take up a lot time and energy from the on-topic discussions.

“How many months more before your already widely dysfunctional institutions will descend into chaos?”
“Thank you so much Merpel,” one reader wrote. “A most accurate and detailed summary of the deeply sad situation under this president. I hope (I am sure) that this analysis will circulate to all interested parties. In case it is decided to ignore your suggestions at the next administrative council we will have all our answers and better get ready for the end of the EPO.”

Experience suggests that politicians care about these scandals only if/when they have something to politically gain from them. Some people now compare this to US politics (and election), noting that “the 24/7 freak show doing business under the brand of “US politics” hardly gives you any ground for gloating. How many months more before your already widely dysfunctional institutions will descend into chaos?”

“Maybe someone in the new US Administration will set their sights on the EPO.”
One reply to this said: “Maybe someone in the new US Administration will set their sights on the EPO. The failure to provide a truly independent judicial review instance could arguably count as a breach of TRIPS. Grounds for an action against the EPO contracting states? Let’s see…”

We sure hope that some outside intervention (ILO is too slow and TI is virtually defunct) will save the EPO. If often seems like the Office and the supine Organisation cannot be saved anymore (as it’s too late, they’ve been rendered dysfunctional from the inside, compromising the very core structure as envisioned in the EPC).

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