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02.01.17

Someone Needs to Explain/Remind EPO Management That Software Patents Are Not (Supposed to Be) Valid in Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Software patents in EPO

Summary: The decline of patent quality at the EPO (including expansion of scope to abstract things) should be a cause for concern not just to software developers/users but to everyone who cares about the reputation of the EPO, and by extension Europe

Software patents in EPO vocabulary is “CII”, which is just a trick for avoiding the more controversial term, “software patents”. The EPO has used the misleading term for at least a decade and yesterday it wrote the above. “Great explanation,” it said. “You can also have a look here for more info on patents for computer-implemented inventions…”

One major problem though is that these patents are banned (not that EPO will obey the law anyway, especially under Battistelli’s rule).

“KIPO and JPO have probably become better than the EPO (in terms of quality) after that Battistelli ‘reform’, which basically meant reducing the Office to rubbish.”Bastian Best, who has a blog dedicated to software patents in Europe (promoting them), has been flirting with the EPO for quite some time and writing almost exclusively in support of software patents. Why does the EPO promote these patents against its own rules? So desperate for fresh patent applications? We have been hearing that application inventories (backlog) are rapidly running out, which means that staff will become redundant. Is the EPO’s unofficial strategy to just lower patent quality, expand patent scope, and hope that lots of rubbish patent applications will come flooding in?

The use or misuse of “CII” as a euphemism/weasel word is not new to us. We already saw the devastating effect of such patents in the US, where the USPTO, PTAB, CAFC, etc. belatedly undo the mistakes and attempt to repair the damage. A famous CAFC judge recently said that software patents are in conflict with free speech and are thus, arguably, unconstitutional.

Yesterday the EPO wrote: “What changes to the law are coming up in Japan & Korea?”

Well, Korea already forbids software patents for example, among other low-quality patents. KIPO and JPO have probably become better than the EPO (in terms of quality) after that Battistelli ‘reform’, which basically meant reducing the Office to rubbish. What happens when everyone finds out? As we shall show in our next post, stakeholder are already finding out.

The Netherlands With Its Bizarre Decision to Let the EPO Violate Dutch Law, Now in English

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Patents at 7:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Holland fights to market itself as safe haven for unaccountable (and often abusive) organisations

Dutch decision on EPO

Summary: A recent decision on the EPO (from a high Dutch court) is now available for reading in English

OUR previous coverage on this subject, namely EPO management getting away with anything on Dutch territory, pretty much said everything that needed to be said. Here are 5 articles about it (there are more):

Yesterday afternoon we found this update in SUEPO’s Web site. It said the following:

Judgment of the Dutch Court of Cassation issued on 20 January 2017

JUDGMENT OF THE DUTCH COURT OF CASSATION IN SUEPO v EPO ISSUED ON 20 JANUARY 2017
Dutch courts have no jurisdiction in European Patent Organisation dispute
The European Patent Organisation can invoke jurisdiction immunity in a dispute with trade unions. That is the ruling issued by the Supreme Court 5 today, and means the Dutch courts have no jurisdiction to examine disputes brought before them between the European Patent Organisation (EPOrg) and two trade unions: the Trade Union of the European Patent Office (VEOB) and the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO). Previous rulings by the court in preliminary relief proceedings and the Court of Appeal in The Hague 10 have been set aside by the Supreme Court.

Original judgment text is in Dutch. English translation is available.

We have local [PDF] copies of both [PDF] English translations. We have uploaded these PDFs for long-term preservation (as SUEPO is under attack and sometimes pressured to censor itself).

01.31.17

Links 31/1/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9, OPNsense 17.1

Posted in News Roundup at 9:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • 5 Reasons To Install Linux Today

      If you are reading this article, chances are you are a new or prospective Linux user. Or perhaps you’re not – and are curious as to what I consider the 5 top reasons why someone would want to install Linux today.

      Either way, you are welcome to join me as I do my best to explain. If you bear with me enough to reach the end of this post, feel free to add your own voice using the comment form below.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma 5.10: Spring-loading in Folder View; performance work

        Folder View in Plasma 5.10 will allow you to navigate folders by hovering above them during drag and drop. This is supported in all three modes (desktop layout, desktop widget, panel widget), and pretty damn convenient. It’s a well-known feature from Dolphin, of course, and now also supported in Plasma’s other major file browsing interface.

        Folder View packs a lot of functionality – at some point I should write a tips & tricks blog on some of the lesser known features and how they can improve your workflow.

      • Plasma 5.9 Kicks off 2017 in Style

        Tuesday, 31 January 2017. Today KDE releases this year’s first Plasma feature update, Plasma 5.9. While this release brings many exciting new features to your desktop, we’ll continue to provide bugfixes to Plasma 5.8 LTS.

      • Qbs 1.7 released

        We are delighted to announce the release of Qbs 1.7 “Technical Ecstasy”!

        While Qbs 1.7.0 was actually released back in mid-December, we decided to postpone the announcement until after last week’s 1.7.1 patch release in order to get in a few more bug fixes.

      • Neon OEM Mod…arghhh

        For years and years already Ubuntu’s installer, Ubiquity, has an OEM mode. And for years and years I know it doesn’t really work with the Qt interface.

        An understandable consequence of not actually having any real-life use cases of course, disappointing all the same. As part of the KDE Slimbook project I took a second and then a third look at the problems it was having and while it still is not perfect it is substantially better than before.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Desktop Launches with Global Menus, Better Wayland Support

        Today, January 30, 2017, KDE had the great pleasure of announcing the release and general availability of the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems.

        The development cycle of KDE Plasma 5.9 took only a few months, but considering the fact that it’s not a long-term supported (LTS) version like KDE Plasma 5.8, which is the recommended version right now for all users, we think that it’s a pretty hefty update adding quite a bunch of new features and improving Wayland support.

      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Released, This Is What’s New
      • KDE Plasma 5.9 Hits The Web With Global Menus, Better Wayland Support

        KDE Plasma 5.9 introduces interactive previews for notifications, drag-and-drop improvements throughout the desktop, window switching in the task manager using Meta + number shortcuts, Breeze styling improvements, Global Menus have returned to the KDE desktop, general theme and UI improvements, a new network configuration module, and continued work on Wayland support.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • OPNsense 17.1 “Eclectic Eagle” Released

        The OPNsense team is proud to announce the final availability of version 17.1, nicknamed “Eclectic Eagle”. This major release features FreeBSD 11.0, the SSH remote installer, new languages Italian / Czech / Portuguese, state-of-the-art HardenedBSD security features, PHP 7.0, new plugins for FTP Proxy / Tinc VPN / Let’s Encrypt, native PAM authentication against e.g. 2FA (TOTP), as well a rewritten Nano-style card images that adapt to media size to name only a few.

      • OPNsense 17.1 Released, Based On FreeBSD 11

        OPNsense 17.1 is now available as the newest release of this network-focused FreeBSD-based operating system forked from pfSense.

        It’s now been two years since the first official release of OPNsense and to celebrate they have out a big update. OPNsense 17.1 re-bases to using FreeBSD 11.0, there’s now a SSH remote installer, new language support, more hardening features used from HardenedBSD, new plugins, integrated authentication via PAM, and many other improvements. Some of the new plug-ins include FTP Proxy, Tinc VPN, and Let’s Encrypt support.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat’s Marina Zhurakhinskaya fights for inclusivity, diversity in open-source community

        Raw data suggest the open-source community remains dominated by men, but women in coding are crusading against these statistics and finding ways to achieve inclusivity.

        One of these women is Marina Zhurakhinskaya, a longtime software engineer and Red Hat’s first senior outreach specialist, who is devoting her career to making communities like GitHub more open to both women and minorities.

      • Developing open leaders

        For many people, that requires a profound mindset shift in how to think about leaders. Yet in some ways, it’s what we all intuitively know about how organizations really work. As Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has pointed out, in any organization, you have the thermometers—people who reflect the organizational “temperature” and sentiment and direction—and then you have the thermostats—people who set those things for the organization.

      • ​Monash University gets multi-petabyte computing boost from Red Hat, Dell EMC

        Monash University has implemented a multi-petabyte deployment at its eResearch Centre, giving the Melbourne-based advanced computing facility the capacity to store and manage massive workloads of data.

        The university implemented a software-defined solution that uses Red Hat Ceph Storage on Dell EMC PowerEdge R630 and R730xd rack servers that it expects will accelerate application performance, simplify systems management, and address the university’s growing data storage requirements.

      • Sandvine Virtual Series Achieves Certification with Red Hat OpenStack Platform 8.0

        The Red Hat® OpenStack® Platform combines the power of Red Hat Enterprise Linux® with Red Hat OpenStack technology to deliver a scalable and secure foundation that allows Communications Service Providers to build and manage a virtualized carrier network.

      • European Bioinformatics Institute and Red Hat Collaborate to Enhance Global Biological Research Capabilities

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, is using Red Hat OpenStack Platform to deliver the scale and flexibility required to drive its Embassy Cloud project. The goal of Embassy Cloud is to transform the way collaborative research, such as pan-cancer analysis, tackles the world’s toughest biological challenges.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Sometimes it’s good to stop worrying about the world and just work on my internship

          As I’m sure many of you know, living in the US is worrying right now.

          [...]

          The affinity mapping and brainstorming post contained a bunch of initial mockups which I basically threw together to try to cover the things we came up with during brainstorming. Máirín Duffy (Mo) reviewed and commented on each of those, both in the ticket and sometimes in IRC, email, and other such places.

        • CSS and mockups

          I want to get a better feel for CSS, so Máirín Duffy (Mo) and I spent three hours last week figuring out how to moving a pixel perfect mockup to CSS. This was made up almost entirely of background stuff, but we got a lot of useful information in the process. We will continue working on this sometime this week.

        • Welcome Fedora Quality Planet

          Hello, I’d like to introduce a new sub-planet of Fedora Planet to you, located at http://fedoraplanet.org/quality/ (you don’t need to remember the URL, there’s a sub-planet picker in the top right corner of Fedora Planet pages that allows you to switch between sub-planets).

          Fedora Quality Planet will contain news and useful information about QA tools and processes present in Fedora, updates on our quality automation efforts, guides for package maintainers (and other teams) how to interact with our tools and checks or understand the reported failures, announcements about critical issues in Fedora releases, and more.

    • Debian Family

      • Scratch group projects – 2017

        It’s January, so it must be time for this year’s Scratch projects from my grade 10 students. We’re moving on to python, but I’ve posted their projects at http://scratch.lesbg.com Feel free to play them and rate them. This is a first attempt for students, so do please be gentle on the ratings.

      • Free software activities in January 2017
      • My Free Software Activities in January 2017

        My monthly report covers a large part of what I have been doing in the free software world. I write it for my donors (thanks to them!) but also for the wider Debian community because it can give ideas to newcomers and it’s one of the best ways to find volunteers to work with me on projects that matter to me.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Releases Snapd 2.22 Snappy Daemon for Ubuntu 14.04, 16.04 and 16.10

            Today, January 30, 2017, Canonical, through Michael Vogt, had the pleasure of announcing the availability of the snapd 2.22 Snappy daemon for Ubuntu Linux.

          • A Look at What’s Next for Ubuntu Linux in 2017

            Mark Shuttleworth’s company Canonical has been developing Ubuntu Linux for over a decade, with two new major milestone releases debuting every year. In 2017, the first release will be Ubuntu 17.04, codenamed the ‘Zesty Zapus’ set to debut in April. The big question that Ubuntu Linux fans have though is what the Ubuntu 17.10 release will be called, when it is released in October.

          • Top Ubuntu Mistakes: How to Avoid Ubuntu Problems

            Ubuntu and similar distros are widely considered to be as simple as it gets. With GUI installers, being FoSS friendly is easy. For the most part, 98% of the best user experience possible is found out of the box by default.

            But what about the other 2%? This article will address the top mistakes made by newer Ubuntu users and offer advice on how to avoid those Ubuntu snafus.

          • Top Ubuntu Mistakes, F26 Wallpaper Hunt, Linux GOTY

            It’s that time of development again when the Fedora Design Team sends out their call for supplemental wallpapers. Artists and photographers are encouraged to participate. Matt Hartley discussed today some of the mistakes new users make with Ubuntu and offered up his best advice for avoiding them. TecMint compiled the top five reasons to install Linux and the second round of voting has begun in FOSS Force’s Best Distro of 2016 contest. Some familiar names graced Google’s Code-in winners and Gaming On Linux has identified the best games of 2016 through a user polling survey.

          • Meet the $114,725 Ubuntu server with eight Nvidia Tesla P100 GPUs

            The Ibex Pro is one supercharged machine that will probably hurt your electric bill.

            System76′s fastest Ibex Pro with Ubuntu Server 16.10 packs some crazy horsepower with Intel’s latest 22-core Xeon E5 v4 chips and eight Nvidia Tesla P100 graphics processors.

            It’s got the same number of GPUs as Nvidia’s superfast DGX-1, which is being used for deep learning. System76 is targeting the Ibex Pro — which is a rack server — at the same market as the DGX-1. The server has fewer, but newer, CPUs, compared to the DGX-1.

          • Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS Delayed A Second Time

            Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS was supposed to ship in mid-January and then up until today was expected to be released on Thursday. But now it’s being delayed at least one more week.

            Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS had been delayed due to some parts of its hardware enablement (HWE) stack being changed, they decided in mid-January to push back the release to 2 February. Now today they’ve decided to delay it a second time due to an unrelated problem.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Be the open source supply chain

    I would bet that whoever is best at managing and influencing the open source supply chain will be best positioned to create the most innovative products. In this article, I’ll explain why you should be a supply chain influencer, and how your organization can be an active participant in your supply chain.

  • Leon Anavi’s Open Source News Vlog

    All of us at the FOSS Force office have become big fans of this new open source news blog from Leon Anavi and can’t wait until the next edition comes out in February. Don’t worry Leon, your English is fine. Keep ’em coming.

  • Announcing the Google Code-in 2016 Winners!

    Drum roll please! We are very proud to announce the 2016 Google Code-in (GCI) Grand Prize Winners and Finalists. Each year we see the number of student participants increase, and 2016 was no exception: 1,340 students from 62 countries completed an impressive 6,418 tasks. Winners and Finalists were chosen by the 17 open source organizations and are listed alphabetically below.

  • Google will open-source its Earth Enterprise on-premises software in March

    Google today announced that in March it will open-source its Google Earth Enterprise software, which lets organizations deploy Google Maps and Google Earth on their on-premises data center infrastructure.

    Google unveiled the software back in 2006 and stopped selling it nearly two years ago. Since then Google has released updates and provided support to organizations with existing licenses. Once it pops up online — on GitHub, under an Apache 2.0 license — organizations will be free to collaboratively or independently modify it for their own needs as open-source software.

  • Google will soon open-source Google Earth Enterprise
  • Google Steers Android Things Toward IoT Implementations

    Google is quickly ramping up its efforts to put the Internet of Things (IoT) and Android on converging paths. In December, Google released the developer preview of Android Things, which is a trimmed down version of Android for smart devices.

  • Chrome on iOS is now open source

    Google’s Chromium project lets developers poke around, test, and modify Google’s open-source browser code. But up until today, Chrome for iOS’s code wasn’t included in the open-source repository. Now, however, the company is making it public. The code wasn’t kept with the rest of the Chromium Project because of how complicated it is to actually get Chrome to run on a mobile Apple device.

  • Open source cloud community condemns President Trump immigration ban

    Tech leaders from several major open source cloud initiatives condemn President Donald Trump’s travel ban, and claim it could harm diversity and hinder the tech industry’s wider innovation potential

  • Open Source and the Frozen Middle

    If you’re like me, a term of art called the “Frozen Middle” meant nothing to you, except perhaps as a substance found inside a Klondike bar. It happens to be a business school term referring to middle management, specifically middle management that is “frozen” or not performing well. I first heard about it through a recent Twitter discussion and then looked up its source. The earliest reference I can find is from a 2005 HBS blog post, and that post references case studies from the automobile industry. I found the term intriguing because I am, in fact, middle management. And I have, as a matter of course, dealt with many many middle managers in the past. Some of those middle managers were exceptional, some were competent, and some were… hey, is that a Klondike bar??? “Great,” I can hear you say. “But what does this have to do with Open Source?”

  • Vendors find opportunities, challenges in adopting open source platforms

    The move towards open source has had a somewhat divisive impact on the vendor community, with established telecom suppliers now having to share the attention – and budgets – of operators with new entrants.

    This new rivalry has not gone unnoticed by operators, who have been somewhat critical of the vendor community in terms of providing interoperable platforms that can tie together management of VNFs from various providers.

  • Netflix’s Open Source Orchestrator, Conductor, May Prove the Limits of Ordinary Scalability

    How many times has this happened to you? You’re minding your own business one day, running your international delivery system for high-definition dramatic and comedic video with 16-channel stereo sound on tens of thousands of concurrent channels. Your content suppliers in Tokyo or Copenhagen or wherever, just like every other day, are flooding you with raw or semi-edited video, and are seeking your input on possible edits and scene changes. They’re using an international standard video delivery format created just for this purpose, and maybe you’re the only customer for this format, but that’s never bothered you before.

  • Events

    • LinuxCon, CloudOpen, and ContainerCon Come to China for the First Time in 2017

      The Linux Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting the adoption of the latest Linux and Open Source technologies to the enterprise industry, is announcing the upcoming schedule for LinuxCon, CloudOpen, and ContainerCon conferences.

      Taking in place for the first time in China, between June 19-20, 2017, the LinuxCon, ContainerCon and CloudOpen events will be held at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, where it is expected that thousands of attendees will share their knowledge, collaborate on new technologies, and learn about the latest Open Source and GNU/Linux technologies, including cloud, containers, microservices, and networking.

    • IPv6 for Server Admins and Client Developers by Thiago Macieira, Intel
    • IPv6 for Server Admins and Client Developers

      IPv6 has been around for a long time. The first IPv6 RFC was released more than 20 years ago, and we began exhausting the IPv4 address space in 2011. Thiago Macieira from the Intel Open Source Technology Center began his talk at LinuxCon Europe by saying that he didn’t think he would still need to be talking about this today, and he wished we had already solved this problem. But, many people have not yet made the switch to IPv6, so his talk contained a brief introduction to IPv6 and some of the differences compared to IPv4.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • 5 new guides for working with OpenStack

      OpenStack experience continues to be among the most in-demand skills in the tech world, with more and more organizations seeking to build and manage their own open source clouds. But OpenStack is a huge domain of knowledge, containing dozen of individual projects that are being actively developed at a rapid pace. Just keeping your skills up to date can be a challenge.

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 11.0 Pre-Alpha 4 Released

      Developers working on the FreeBSD-derived GhostBSD distribution are working to get their 11.0 release out the door that’s based off last year’s FreeBSD 11.0 code-base.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • C++ Support Added To GCC’s libcc1, Benefiting GDB

      Another late feature addition to GCC 7 is C++ support for libcc1.

      Libcc1 is the GCC cc1 plugin for the GDB debugger. With the latest GCC SVN/Git code tonight is now C++ support to complement the C interfaces.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Austria set to increase its use of open source

      Public administrations in Austria need to increase their use of free and open source software, the government of Austria says in its Digital Strategy. The strategy proposes to ‘push’ (forcierung) open source by public administrations. This is intended to accelerate its uptake, explains Federal Chancellery for Digitalisation.

    • Open source GIS in Italian public administration

      The Italian Association for Free Software Geographic Information Systems (GFOSS.it) is conducting a survey to collect information about the use of this kind of software in Italy’s public sector. The results will be made public at the GFOSS.it meeting, in Genoa from 8 to 11 February.

    • Latvia open technology group to announce award

      One of the potential winners is the Latvian National Archive, which was nominated because of its use of open technologies for its online audiovisual archive. Another nominee is the municipality of Ventspils, for its use of open source software on workstations and server hosts, across the administration and in the town’s schools.

      The award ceremony is part of LATA’s Open Technology for Growth conference at the Latvian University of Natural Sciences in Riga.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Book review: Ours to Hack and to Own

      Where open source fits in

      At or near the core of any platform cooperative lies open source; not necessarily open source technologies, but the principles and the ethos that underlie open source—openness, transparency, cooperation, collaboration, and sharing.

    • Open Data

      • Supporting children in doing data science

        As children use digital media to learn and socialize, others are collecting and analyzing data about these activities. In school and at play, these children find that they are the subjects of data science. As believers in the power of data analysis, we believe that this approach falls short of data science’s potential to promote innovation, learning, and power.

        Motivated by this fact, we have been working over the last three years as part of a team at the MIT Media Lab and the University of Washington to design and build a system that attempts to support an alternative vision: children as data scientists. The system we have built is described in a new paper—Scratch Community Blocks: Supporting Children as Data Scientists—that will be published in the proceedings of CHI 2017.

      • Supporting children in doing data science

        Motivated by this fact, we have been working over the last three years as part of a team at the MIT Media Lab and the University of Washington to design and build a system that attempts to support an alternative vision: children as data scientists. The system we have built is described in a new paper—Scratch Community Blocks: Supporting Children as Data Scientists—that will be published in the proceedings of CHI 2017.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Building a Sustainable, Open-Source Platform for Language Learning

        Learning a language is a challenging endeavor. Digital technologies have been developed over the last several decades to aid the process, ranging from (probably) familiar platforms like Rosetta Stone to immersive virtual environments.

        In recent years, the web and mobile app Duolingo has risen to prominence by developing a novel learning model that focuses on maximizing user engagement. While Duolingo is free to use, it is not “open” in the sense that it can broadly invite users to collaborate and contribute. Duolingo learning features come and go, as the company determines what works best for the majority of users and supports financial growth.

Leftovers

  • LG’s 5K monitor doesn’t work well with routers

    Remember the LG UltraFine 5K Display that Apple says was specifically designed to work with the New MacBook Pro and as a replacement for the Thunderbolt Display? Well apparently it wasn’t designed to work next to routers. According to 9to5Mac, the 27-inch monitor is useless when it’s within two meters of a router, as the UltraFine 5K Display will flicker, disconnect, or freeze computers due to electromagnetic interference.

  • Delta operations returning to normal after systems outage

    Delta Air Lines flights are departing and a ground stop has been lifted after a systems outage Sunday night led to departure delays and cancellations.

    In a statement posted on the Atlanta-based airline’s website at 11:45 p.m., CEO Ed Bastian apologized to customers who were impacted by this “frustrating situation.”

  • Dropbox finally brings its Google Docs competitor out of beta

    Dropbox’s latest tool for businesses, a piece of collaborative editing software called Paper, is launching globally today. Paper has been in the works at Dropbox for quite some time, having first been announced in October of 2015 before entering a public beta phase in August of last year. Dropbox’s software is similar to Google’s suite of workplace cloud apps. Paper — itself a minimal document editor and writing tool like Google Docs — is the focal point, while all of Dropbox’s other services and features now plug into and augment the experience.

  • Court Points Out Numerous Ways Using Playstation Network To Trade Child Porn Is A Bad Idea

    Some Playstation Network users tried to use Sony’s messaging system to transfer child porn back and forth. The ad hoc Playstation Playpen was reported by users, and Sony went digging into their messages and discovered illegal images, which it then — as it is statutorily required to do — turned this information over to law enforcement and reported it to NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children). Unsurprisingly, this led to the arrest of one of those trading illegal images.

  • Hardware

    • Intel Pentium G4600: A Surprising 3.6GHz Kabylake CPU For $90

      If you are looking to upgrade to a Kabylake processor but the Core i7 7700K at $350 and other higher-end models are too expensive, the Pentium G4600 is available at under $90 USD for a dual-core processor with Hyper Threading and clocks up to 3.6GHz.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • 1,700 residents of Flint, Michigan sue EPA over water crisis

      More than 1,700 residents of Flint, Michigan who say the Environmental Protection Agency mismanaged the water crisis that exposed thousands of children to lead poisoning have sued the U.S. government, seeking class action status for their claims.

      The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Michigan on Monday, asserted that the EPA failed to warn them of the dangers of the toxic water or take steps to ensure that state and local authorities were addressing the crisis. The plaintiffs seek $722 million in damages.

      “This case involves a major failure on all levels of government to protect the health and safety of the public,” the 30-page lawsuit claims. “Local, state and federal agencies and employees, working individually and at times in concert with each other, mismanaged this environmental catastrophe.”

    • WTO Members Celebrate Treaty Amendment On Medicines Access, Look Ahead

      A high-level meeting at the World Trade Organization today welcomed in an amendment to international trade rules for intellectual property aimed at boosting exports of affordable medicines. It also set out the way ahead to make it work.

    • Gates Foundation, KEI Enter Into Official Relations With WHO [Ed: so Gates, whom WHO accused of meddling for his money and power, infiltrates WHO even further]

      The World Health Organization Executive Board ended its meeting a day early today, and agreed to have five new institutions to enter into official relation with the organisation, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, despite protests from civil society groups, and Knowledge Ecology International, led by activist firebrand James Love. Meanwhile, the WHO is pursuing the implementation of its framework of engagement with non-governmental actors adopted in 2016. WHO members urged the organisation to speedily provide implementation tools such as a register of all such actors. The WHO said all is on track and is expected to be ready by the next World Health Assembly.

    • WHO-Led Efforts To Boost R&D In Neglected Diseases Jeopardised By Funding Gap

      Finding resources to fund research and development for diseases primarily affecting developing and least-developed countries is a continuous challenge. Hopes were raised in 2015 with projects to launch a Global Observatory on Health Research and Development, and a voluntary pooled fund for research and development projects. However, the lack of funding is jeopardizing those initiatives despite some contributions by developed and middle-income countries.

    • Cancer Resolution Not Agreed Yet At WHO; Work Needed On IP Issues

      World Health Organisation members tried to agree on a draft resolution on cancer during the WHO Executive Board but consensus escaped them, in particular on intellectual property issues, according to sources. The text is expected to be discussed informally with a view to reaching common language on the remaining issues by the annual World Health Assembly in May.

    • NHS spending per person will be cut next year, ministers confirm

      The Government will cut the National Health Service’s budget per person in real terms next year, ministers have admitted in official figures for the first time.

      Numbers released by ministers show NHS England will face a sharp reduction of 0.6 per cent in real terms of per head in the financial year 2018-19.

      The numbers corroborate claims by NHS chief Simon Stevens earlier this month that “in 2018-19, real-terms NHS spending per person in England is going to go down”.

  • Security

    • You’re taking the p… Linux encryption app Cryptkeeper has universal password: ‘p’

      Linux encryption app Cryptkeeper has a bug that causes it to use a single-letter universal decryption password: “p”.

      The flawed version is in Debian 9 (Stretch), currently in testing, but not in Debian 8 (Jessie). The bug appears to be a result of a bad interaction with the encfs encrypted filesystem’s command line interface: Cryptkeeper invokes encfs and attempts to enter paranoia mode with a simulated ‘p’ keypress – instead, it sets passwords for folders to just that letter.

    • Reproducible Builds: week 92 in Stretch cycle

      John Gilmore wrote an interesting mail about how Cygnus.com worked on reproducible builds in the early 1990s. (It’s eye opening to see how the dealt with basically the very same problems we’re dealing with today, how they solved them and then to realize that most of this has been forgotten and bit-rotted in the last 20 years. How will we prevent history repeating it)self here?)

    • MongoDB ransom attacks continue to plague administrators

      Earlier this month, Salted Hash reported on a surge in attacks against publicly accessible MongoDB installations.

      Since January 3, the day of that first report, the number of victims has climbed from about 200 databases to more than 40,000. In addition to MongoDB, those responsible for the attacks have started targeting Elasticsearch and CouchDB.

      No matter the platform being targeted, the message to the victim is the same; send a small Bitcoin payment to the listed address, or forever lose access to your files.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • 3 arrests over breach claimed by ‘Phineas Fisher’ hacker

      The arrests sent rumors flying online because the breach had been claimed by Phineas Fisher, a hacker who first won notoriety in 2014 for publishing data from Britain’s Gamma Group — responsible at the time for spyware known as FinFisher. The hacker, or group of hackers, cemented their reputation by claiming responsibility for a breach at Italy’s Hacking Team in 2015 — a spectacular dump which exposed the inner workings of government espionage campaigns — and appearing as a hand puppet in an unusual interview in 2016.

    • Epic Fail: Linux Encryption App Cryptkeeper Has Universal Password: ‘p’

      A data encryption app for Linux users named Cryptkeeper has a bug that allows anyone to decrypt locked content using the password “p”.

    • Cryptkeeper Linux Encryption App Fails at Job, Has One Letter Skeleton Key – “P”
    • Facebook Opens Up a New Security Methodology

      Facebook, like Google, has shown itself to be a strong contributor to the open source community, and is now out with a steady stream of open source security tools. Late last year, A couple of years ago, Facebook open sourced osquery, an SQL-powered detection tool for Linux and OS X that provides real-time insight into the state of corporate infrastructure. Then, it ported osquery to Windows and open sourced it.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Germany: Fighting the anti-whistleblower provision

      EDRi observer Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte’s (GFF) most recent Constitutional Court case in Germany concerns an anti-whistleblowing provision threatening the freedom of the press. Part-time journalists and bloggers, as well as the legal or IT experts on which journalists rely, now risk a prison sentence of up to three years for handling “leaked” data.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Green movement ‘greatest threat to freedom’, says Trump adviser

      The environmental movement is “the greatest threat to freedom and prosperity in the modern world”, according to an adviser to the US president Donald Trump’s administration.

      Myron Ebell, who has denied the dangers of climate change for many years and led Trump’s transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) until the president’s recent inauguration, also said he fully expected Trump to keep his promise to withdraw the US from the global agreement to fight global warming.

      Ebell said US voters had rejected what he dubbed the “expertariat” and said there was no doubt that Trump thinks that climate change is not a crisis and does not require urgent action.

    • Judge in environmental activist’s trial says climate change is matter of debate

      A Washington state judge has sparked outrage for remarks questioning the existence of climate change and the role of humans in global warming.

      During the high-profile trial of Ken Ward, a climate activist facing 30 years in prison for shutting down an oil pipeline, Judge Michael E Rickert said: “I don’t know what everybody’s beliefs are on [climate change], but I know that there’s tremendous controversy over the fact whether it even exists. And even if people believe that it does or it doesn’t, the extent of what we’re doing to ourselves and our climate and our planet, there’s great controversy over that.”

      The Skagit County judge made the comments on 24 January while addressing Ward’s request to present a “necessity defense” in court, meaning he would argue that the grave threat of climate change justified civil disobedience.

  • Finance

    • Uber Is Asking Drivers to Send Them Non-Uber Paystubs for Money

      Smartphone app-based ride-share company Uber has been a controversial figure in Seattle for years. The company has been fighting its drivers’ unionization efforts since last autumn. Additionally, in December, Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kallanick was among the executives tapped to be on President Donald Trump’s economic advisory commission.

    • Trump’s Next Immigration Move to Hit Closer to Home for Tech

      President Donald Trump’s clash with Silicon Valley over immigration is about to become even more contentious.

      After the new president banned refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, Microsoft and others railed against the move, saying it violated the country’s principles and risked disrupting its engine of innovation. Trump’s next steps could strike even closer to home: His administration has drafted an executive order aimed at overhauling the work-visa programs technology companies depend on to hire tens of thousands of employees each year.

      If implemented, the reforms could shift the way American companies like Microsoft Corp., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. recruit talent and force wholesale changes at Indian companies such as Infosys Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. Businesses would have to try to hire American first and if they recruit foreign workers, priority would be given to the most highly paid.

      “Our country’s immigration policies should be designed and implemented to serve, first and foremost, the U.S. national interest,” the draft proposal reads, according to a copy reviewed by Bloomberg. “Visa programs for foreign workers … should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers — our forgotten working people — and the jobs they hold.”

    • After Voting To ‘Escape’ EU Sovereignty, Post-Brexit UK Will Become Subject To Corporate Sovereignty On A Massive Scale

      One of the slogans used by those in favor of the UK leaving the European Union — aka Brexit — was that it would allow Brits to “take back control.” In particular, it was claimed, Brexit would stop the European Union and its top court from “imposing” their decisions that took precedence over national laws. It was an appealing slogan for many — a bit like “Make America great again” — but as with other appealing slogans, with time it proved rather hollow. In the wake of the UK referendum in favor of Brexit, the British government is faced with the task of coming up with large numbers of trade deals that will somehow compensate for the almost-certain loss of preferential access to the EU. Naturally, the most important of these “new” trade deals is with the US. Unfortunately, the British negotiating position is fatally undermined by the fact that the UK is desperate for a deal, whereas the US doesn’t need it at all. Inevitably, then, the US will get to dictate its terms, and UK government will be forced to accept them, however bad they are, because it has no alternative. So much for “taking back control.”

      Rather belatedly, people are beginning to wake up to what that is likely to mean in practice. Here, for example, is an analysis on BuzzFeed of a key problem with the UK government’s plan to sign lots of new trade deals to plug the gap left by exiting the EU…

    • How Nigel Farage’s taunts prompted hasty offer of Trump state visit

      The idea of inviting the 45th president of the United States on a state visit to the UK was conceived at a time when the Conservative government was desperate to interpose itself between Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader.

      The government had been blindsided by Trump’s victory, and Farage, the eternal thorn in the side of the Conservative leadership, was taunting the Foreign Office about his proximity to Trump and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

      The photograph of Farage beaming in the gilded Trump Towers was a humiliation for British officials, as was his one-hour meeting with Trump, which made him the first British politician to meet the president-elect.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • How Trump Administration Will Make Money For Investors, As Predicted By Corporate CEOs

      Though polls show a majority of Americans disapprove of the way President Donald Trump is handling his job, one group of elites seems enthusiastic about the new White House occupant: CEOs of companies with big business before Trump’s administration.

      In corporate earnings calls since the election, top executives from the fossil fuel, defense contracting, border security and pharmaceutical industries have said they are looking forward to potentially lower corporate taxes, less regulation and — in some cases — more government largesse.

      The leader of oil colossus Chevron, for instance, praised Trump in an earnings call just a few weeks after the firm poured $500,000 into Trump’s inaugural committee. The CEO of the company — which spends millions lobbying the federal government on issues like environmental rules and climate policy — specifically lauded Trump’s promise to slash government regulations in an earnings call only days after scientists said 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history.

    • EU chair labels Trump a ‘threat’ as Europeans debate U.S. ties

      Donald Trump has joined Russia, China and radical Islam as a threat to the European Union, EU leaders were told on Tuesday by the man chairing a summit where they will debate relations with the United States.

      European Council President Donald Tusk, a conservative former premier of Poland, wrote to EU national leaders to lay out themes for discussion when they meet in Malta on Friday to discuss the future of their Union as Britain prepares to leave.

      In vivid language that reflects deep concern in Europe at the new U.S. president’s support for Brexit, as well as his ban on refugees and people from several Muslim countries, Tusk called on Europeans to rally against eurosceptic nationalists at home and take “spectacular steps” to deepen the continent’s integration.

    • Thousands turn out for anti-Trump protest after travel ban

      Thousands turned out at an anti-Trump rally outside St George’s Hall in protest of the President’s travel ban.

      Protesters flocked to Lime Street from around 6pm on Monday, January 30 to object to Trump’s treatment of people from Muslim countries.

    • Trump’s frightening first week is not the result of his inexperience, it’s an expression of his racist bigotry

      Yesterday afternoon, just before the Government made a statement in the House of Commons about Donald Trump’s barbaric travel ban, I was asked onto the BBC News channel to talk about why I believe a state visit to be wholly inappropriate. The final question I was asked was a bit of a surprise: “Aren’t these the actions of someone who doesn’t have yet the experience, who’s learning very fast in a new job?”

    • White House Comment Line Shut Down, Tells Callers to Use Non-Existent Facebook Messenger Account Instead

      The White House has shut down its public comment line some time in the past few weeks, instead telling callers, with an automated message, that they should contact the administration via Facebook Messenger instead. There’s only one problem: Neither the new White House administration nor President Donald Trump seem to currently maintain an active Facebook Messenger account.

      The White House had long kept a public comment line, which in recent years had been staffed by volunteers of the Obama administration. In addition, it also offered a number to reach the White House switchboard, where paid staffers would pick up the phone and take messages for the administration.

    • Read the full White House statement on Sally Yates

      “The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

      Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

      It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.

    • Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Who Defied Him

      President Trump fired his acting attorney general on Monday night, removing her as the nation’s top law enforcement officer after she defiantly refused to defend his executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees and people from predominantly Muslim countries.

      In an escalating crisis for his 10-day-old administration, the president declared in a statement that Sally Q. Yates, who had served as deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama, had betrayed the administration by announcing that Justice Department lawyers would not defend Mr. Trump’s order against legal challenges.

    • A White House Devoid of Integrity

      At the dedication of his Library, President Ronald Reagan, then 80 years old, reflected on the pendulum swings he had seen in his lifetime, such as the rise of big government and totalitarianism. “I also remember a time when America was advised to keep a low profile in the world as if by hunkering down and muzzling her deepest beliefs she might avoid foreign criticism and placate her enemies,” Reagan said.

      J ust a week into his infant presidency, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that affirmed his deepest beliefs loudly to the world: He will rule an incompetent, huge government dependent on fear-mongering, which (for starters) means banning lawfully admitted immigrants based on their birth nationality. It could mean a wall on our border with Mexico, whether it’s a new tax on Americans or diplomatic fallout over who picks up the $40 billion tab. It may mean reversing protections for LGBT government employees.

      As we witness daily public panic caused by a White House possessing not enough professionalism and a toxic abundance of narcissism, a crisis of character is quickly becoming a crisis of the American experiment.

    • White House fires acting attorney general who wouldn’t defend Trump’s refugee ban
    • Judicial branch explainer missing from WH website

      Social media erupted Sunday night when users noticed that an index titled “Our Government” did not include an entry for the judicial branch.

      One user pointed out that an archived version of the page from Jan. 19 included “The Judicial Branch” alongside the Executive and Legislative branches.

    • The Data That Turned the World Upside Down

      Anyone who has not spent the last five years living on another planet will be familiar with the term Big Data. Big Data means, in essence, that everything we do, both on and offline, leaves digital traces. Every purchase we make with our cards, every search we type into Google, every movement we make when our mobile phone is in our pocket, every “like” is stored. Especially every “like.” For a long time, it was not entirely clear what use this data could have—except, perhaps, that we might find ads for high blood pressure remedies just after we’ve Googled “reduce blood pressure.”

      On November 9, it became clear that maybe much more is possible. The company behind Trump’s online campaign—the same company that had worked for Leave.EU in the very early stages of its “Brexit” campaign—was a Big Data company: Cambridge Analytica.

      To understand the outcome of the election—and how political communication might work in the future—we need to begin with a strange incident at Cambridge University in 2014, at Kosinski’s Psychometrics Center.

    • Trump’s Not Draining the Swamp—He’s Filling It

      Irony isn’t a concept with which President Donald J. Trump is familiar. In his Inaugural Address, having nominated the wealthiest cabinet in American history, he proclaimed, “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished—but the people did not share in its wealth.” Under Trump, an even smaller group will flourish—in particular, a cadre of former Goldman Sachs executives. To put the matter bluntly, two of them (along with the Federal Reserve) are likely to control our economy and financial system in the years to come.

      Infusing Washington with Goldman alums isn’t exactly an original idea. Three of the last four presidents, including The Donald, have handed the wheel of the US economy to ex-Goldmanites. But in true Trumpian style, after attacking Hillary Clinton for her Goldman ties, he wasn’t satisfied to do just that. He had to do it bigger and better. Unlike Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, just a sole Goldman figure lording it over economic policy wasn’t enough for him. Only two would do.

    • Shock and alarm at Bannon’s new role

      Stephen Bannon’s appointment to the National Security Council (NSC) is stirring alarm among former government officials who fear that crucial White House decisions could be politicized under President Trump.

    • Trump orders “1 in, 2 out” rule for federal regulations

      Last week was a busy one for controversial executive orders, and this week started with another.

      On Monday, President Trump signed a far-reaching Executive Order directing federal agencies to get rid of two existing regulations for every new regulation added—regardless of almost any other consideration. Specifically, the order says that “unless prohibited by law,” agencies “shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed.” The EO also states that “the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero.”

      In other words, the costs imposed by repealed rules will have to, at a minimum, equal the costs imposed by any new rules.

    • Rules for a constitutional crisis

      I became a lawyer because of a story told to me about Watergate, by my uncle, Richard Cates. Cates was a lawyer from Madison. When the House started investigating Nixon, he was hired to be counsel to the House Committee on Impeachment. His job was to put together the facts supporting a case against Nixon, and convince the members of the House that those facts merited impeachment. (Working for him, just out of law school: Hillary Clinton.)

    • Donald Trump has no “mandate”

      We should keep clear a critical point that the press is so sloppily ignoring.

      Donald Trump is our President. Despite failing to win the popular vote, he is our President. Other Presidents have served as President despite not winning the popular vote — after an election (JQ Adams, RB Hayes, B Harrison, GW Bush) or after death in office, resignations, or assassinations (John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Lyndon Johnson, Teddy Roosevelt, Chester Arthur, Andrew Johnson). What those Presidents had is the constitutional entitlement to serve, subject to the constraints of the Constitution.

      But what Donald Trump doesn’t have is any democratic mandate for his policies. He did not win a majority of the popular vote. Neither a majority nor even a plurality of the voters stood with him. And while his party controls Congress, he is not Congress. He is a minority President, who ought to be working to lead a nation the majority of whom don’t share his policies.

    • Spend 5 minutes, help save our society
  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Fight censorship with 10 facts (that can get you fired)

      These truths are about the nature of race and gender.

      These truths are about the necessary function of religious substructures.

      These truths are about the significant moral superiority of our world versus, for example, the Islamic World.

      These truths are about key the issues of our time — about matters like fetal development, the “wage gap,” the transgender movement and more.

    • Handling dissent in the age of censorship and surveillance

      Here, down in the Hive, when the news broke, people were, as was to be expected, up in arms. A contract had been awarded to XNexSt. It was for a system for monitoring citizens which would also create a unified registry system for the identification and targeting of deviants — you know, those who are threats to society, those who do not belong to civil groups, those who refuse to belong to communities, those who refuse to get jobs like the rest of us, those who refuse to play by the norms that were so clearly laid out for our collective good, you know, groups representing low proclivity to consume.

      These deviants, of course, are also those who do not belong to the clearly defined minorities, defined around gender, colour, sexual orientations, allergies – peanuts, lactose intolerance, etc – and who do not perform well on our happiness indexes. The system was meant to identify these deviants and dispose of them. Everyone must belong to a minority. And everyone must demonstrate that they are happy. Otherwise, the system cannot assign a value to them.

    • Mac Repair Company iGeniuses Sends Legal Threats To Unhappy Customers, Demanding $2500 Per Negative Review

      Paul Alan Levy is once again reporting on stupid legal threats made by a stupid company with a stupid non-disparagement clause hidden deep in its clickwrap. In addition, there’s an apparently stupid lawyer involved.

      I do not use the word “stupid” lightly.

      First off, any company that thinks it’s a good idea to hide a non-disparagement clause in its contractual agreements deserves to be called “stupid.” There’s no better way to set your reputation on fire than to demand that customers never criticize you, no matter how terrible your goods or services are. Well, there is one “better” way: enforcing it.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Here’s What Happened When The Dutch Secret Service Tried To Recruit A Tor Admin

      Law enforcement keeps bumping into Tor, as Techdirt has reported many times over the years. So it’s understandable that the authorities are always looking for ways to subvert and circumvent the extra protection that Tor can offer its users when used properly. For obvious reasons, we don’t often get to hear exactly how they are doing that, but a fascinating post on the Dutch site Buro Jansen & Janssen purports to give some details of what happened when the country’s secret service tried to recruit a Tor admin.

    • Amidst Increased Government Surveillance, Chinese Internet Users Finally Gain Important Online Privacy Protections

      Techdirt stories about China have been relentlessly grim in recent years, offering a depressing vision of an online world under ever-greater surveillance, with correspondingly more systems for censoring every digital thought. But it’s important not to get too apocalyptic, and to remember that life goes on. Just like their counterparts in the West, people in China are using the Internet for more and more of their daily lives. Arguably a greater problem than government surveillance for most people is the lack of privacy protections under Chinese law, which has led to highly-personal online information routinely being gathered and sold by third parties.

      In this context, the Caixin site has details of what it calls a “landmark privacy case” that may help to rein in some of that widespread abuse. The original complaint was brought by Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, against an erstwhile partner, Maimai, which offers an enterprise chat app of the same name.

    • [Old] Telling Facebook you’ve changed your phone number – the weird T&Cs you’ve unwittingly signed up to

      The Children’s commissioner has warned that children as young as eight are signing up to social media terms and conditions without reading or understanding the agreements they are entering.

      Let’s be honest, that probably goes for a lot of adults too – and most of these lengthy legal documents that we never bother to read include some rather unexpected clauses. Here are some of the more wide-reaching and most bizarre.

    • New Rules on Data Privacy for Non-US Citizens

      Last week, President Trump signed an executive order affecting the privacy rights of non-US citizens with respect to data residing in the US.

      [...]

      At issue is the EU-US Privacy Shield, which is the voluntary agreement among the US government, US companies, and the EU that makes it possible for US companies to store Europeans’ data without having to follow all EU privacy requirements.

    • Belgium, France, Netherlands to introduce rail ID checks

      Belgium has sealed an agreement with France and the Netherlands to draw up passenger lists and introduce passport checks on Thalys and Eurostar international rail services.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • US border agents checking Facebook profiles, lawyer says

      Should what’s on your Facebook page be a factor in determining whether you’re allowed to re-enter the United States? That’s a question to ponder in the wake of President Donald Trump’s ban on immigration that began on Friday.

      Border patrol agents are checking the Facebook accounts of people who are being held in limbo for approval to enter the US, according to a Saturday tweet by immigration lawyer Mana Yegani that was spotted by The Independent.

    • Petition for Trump State visit to be scrapped reaches half a million signatures

      At some points, up to 1,000 people a minute were signing a petition backing the permanent cancellation of the trip later this year, to avoid causing the monarch “embarrassment” over the ban on visitors to the US from seven mainlyMuslim countries.

      Having started on Saturday with just 60 signatures, the petition quickly gained more than 100,000 – the threshold that means MPs will consider holding a Commons debate – and had last night soared above 500,000.

    • 40% of refugees in Austria put religion above law – study

      A new study from the Austrian Academy of Sciences shows that 40 percent of refugees in Austria believe religious commandments take precedence over the nation’s laws, prompting the country’s foreign minister to push for a rigorous new integration package.

    • Adama Barrow removes ‘Islamic’ from The Gambia’s official name

      The Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow has removed “Islamic” from the official name of his country pledging more reforms in the tiny West African nation. In his first press conference since taking over as leader, Barrow said he would soon be overhauling government institutions to make the administration more effective.

      “The rule of the law, that will be the order of the day,” said Barrow, adding that The Gambia, where Muslims constitute 90% of the population, would no longer be an “Islamic republic”. The word “Islamic” was added to the country’s name in 2015.

      Calling on the nation to unite, the 51-year-old former businessman promised to develop the country by implementing a series of democratic reforms.

    • The White House Just Used The Quebec Mosque Shooting To Justify Trump’s Travel Ban

      The lone suspect has been identified as Alexandre Bissonnette, 27. There’s no evidence he overlaps with the groups of people Trump’s executive order seeks to ban from the US.

      [...]

      Trump’s travel ban, signed last Friday, created immediate chaos at airports as travellers and border officials struggled to figure out who was, and wasn’t, allowed into the United States. It was later confirmed that Canadian citizens would not be affected by the ban.

    • Jeff Sessions’s Unqualified Praise for a 1924 Immigration Law

      Senator Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s nominee to run the Justice Department, once praised a 1924 immigration law whose chief author in the House once declared was intended to end “indiscriminate acceptance of all races.”

      Sessions has long been a proponent of immigration restriction, and was one of the first to back Trump’s call on a ban on Muslims entering the United States during the primary.

    • FBI Continues To Demand Far More Info Than It’s Supposed To With Its National Security Letters

      Mike covered Twitter’s release of two FBI NSLs it had received in the last few years — more evidence that the USA Freedom Act, if nothing else, has made review of NSL gag orders more timely and the orders themselves more easily challenged.

      Not that there hasn’t been significant pushback from Twitter along the way. The social media platform sued the government in 2014, claiming that the de facto government-imposed secrecy was a violation of the company’s First Amendment rights.

    • The FBI’s Secret Rules
    • Secret Docs Reveal: President Trump Has Inherited an FBI With Vast Hidden Powers

      In the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the FBI assumes an importance and influence it has not wielded since J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972. That is what makes today’s batch of stories from The Intercept, The FBI’s Secret Rules, based on a trove of long-sought confidential FBI documents, so critical: It shines a bright light on the vast powers of this law enforcement agency, particularly when it comes to its ability to monitor dissent and carry out a domestic war on terror, at the beginning of an era highly likely to be marked by vociferous protest and reactionary state repression.

    • Secret Rules Make It Pretty Easy for the FBI to Spy on Journalists

      Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials — far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures.

      The classified rules, obtained by The Intercept and dating from 2013, govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. They have previously been released only in heavily redacted form.

      Media advocates said the documents show that the FBI imposes few constraints on itself when it bypasses the requirement to go to court and obtain subpoenas or search warrants before accessing journalists’ information.

      The rules stipulate that obtaining a journalist’s records with a national security letter requires the signoff of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch, in addition to the regular chain of approval. Generally speaking, there are a variety of FBI officials, including the agents in charge of field offices, who can sign off that an NSL is “relevant” to a national security investigation.

      There is an extra step under the rules if the NSL targets a journalist in order “to identify confidential news media sources.” In that case, the general counsel and the executive assistant director must first consult with the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

      But if the NSL is trying to identify a leaker by targeting the records of the potential source, and not the journalist, the Justice Department doesn’t need to be involved.

    • Hidden Loopholes Allow FBI Agents to Infiltrate Political and Religious Groups

      If the FBI had its way, the infiltration loopholes would still be secret. They are detailed in a mammoth document obtained by The Intercept, an uncensored version of the bureau’s governing rulebook, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, or DIOG. The 2011 edition of the book, which covers everything from wiretapping to how to read Miranda rights, was made public in redacted form thanks to a lawsuit brought by civil liberties groups. Beneath the FBI’s redaction marks were exceptions to rules on “undisclosed participation” that could be easy to exploit.

    • Report: Up to 100 detained Monday at LAX

      Carlson said the only time families and lawyers receive information is when detainees are released. Other than that, there’s much confusion.

      “They’re having a very hard time,” she said. “They’re not getting information until someone is released from detention.”

      Others who were detained included green card holders and people from Jordan, Vietnam and India, according to Meena Nanji representing the ACLU.

    • Trump to Announce Supreme Court Pick in Prime Time Ceremony

      President Trump is poised on Tuesday to announce his nominee to the Supreme Court, a decision certain to touch off a bruising ideological clash that could shape his presidency and have sweeping consequences for American law.

      Mr. Trump is scheduled to reveal his choice during an evening ceremony in the White House East Room. It is set to unfold in prime time, an attention-grabbing way for the president — consumed in recent days with questions about his hard-line order cracking down on immigration and refugees — to frame what conservatives and liberals see as a battle for the future of the nation’s highest court.

    • Trump gives the hard left a chance at power

      You can already hear the screaming from the political left over President Donald Trump’s nomination of a conservative to the Supreme Court.

      But don’t allow yourself to be mesmerized by the flecks of spittle flying from angry mouths. Don’t worry about jesters like that Hollywood actor at the Screen Actors Guild gala who wanted to punch those who disagree with him in the face —”with soul, with heart and with joy.”

    • Remembering People’s Lawyer Len Weinglass

      A former military analyst and Marine who served in Vietnam, Ellsberg worked at the Rand Corp. and the Pentagon. He risked decades in prison to release 7,000 top-secret documents to The New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. The Pentagon Papers demonstrated how five presidents consistently lied to the American people about the Vietnam War that was killing thousands of Americans and millions of Indochinese.

      Ellsberg’s courageous acts led directly to the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon’s resignation. Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security adviser, called Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America” who “had to be stopped at all costs.” But Ellsberg wasn’t stopped. Facing 115 years in prison on espionage and conspiracy charges, he fought back.

      Weinglass represented Ellsberg and Tony Russo, who helped Ellsberg copy the Pentagon Papers. The case was ultimately dismissed due to egregious misconduct by the Nixon administration. Ellsberg’s story was portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” Edward Snowden told Ellsberg that film strengthened his resolve to release the National Security Agency documents.

    • Police Unions Head To DC To Ask New President, Attorney General To Stop Making Cops Respect The Constitution

      “Inartfully applied” just means “applied.” The DOJ has “inartfully” attempted to get officers in numerous police departments to stop beating and tasing individuals simply because they weren’t immediately compliant or responded disrespectfully. It has attempted to set a reasonable suspicion standard for police stops and searches. It has attempted to prevent officers from acting in a retaliatory manner against people exercising their First Amendment rights. It has attempted to scale back excessive removals of citizens’ life and liberty by law enforcement officers. It has largely failed to do so because it encounters massive amounts of resistance, much of it led by police unions.

      And here come the unions to undo what little good has been done. The union reps say things like “inartfully applied decrees” and “wastes of money” but what they’re really saying is they would rather not have to be limited by the rights of others. And, according to Trump’s own statement, the President himself has little respect for the rights of non-badge-wearing individuals.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Chairman Pai takes Wheeler’s set-top box plan off the table

      Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has taken his predecessor’s cable TV set-top box plan off the table.

      The proposal from former Chairman Tom Wheeler was officially “on circulation,” meaning that commissioners could vote on it at any time. That was the case until Friday, when Pai removed the set-top box proposal from the list of items on circulation, an FCC official confirmed. (Pai also removed a Wheeler proposal to lower the price caps for business data services.)

      Republican members of Congress had previously asked Pai to close the set-top box proceeding entirely. But while Wheeler’s proposal can no longer be voted upon, the proceeding is still open, and Pai could circulate an alternative proposal. There’s no word on whether he has any plans to do so, though.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Last Chance To Tell The Librarian Of Congress What’s Important For A New Register Of Copyrights

        The (still) new Librarian of Congress created a bit of a fuss last year in effectively forcing the existing Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, (the head of the US Copyright Office) out of a job. Pallante has since (of course) found a new gig heading up an industry trade group, the Association of American Publishers, with a fairly long history of being against the public, against the internet, against the blind and against fair use.

        The removing of Pallante kciked off a bunch of ridiculous conspiracy theories that made little sense and had almost no basis in reality. It’s pretty clear that Pallante was removed from her job because she had actively, and publicly, reached out to Congress to ask that she no longer have to report to Hayden. That seems like fairly basic insubordination and a fairly standard reason why a boss might fire you.

      • Librarian of Congress Seeks Input on Register of Copyrights

        Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden invites the public to provide input to the Library of Congress on expertise needed by the Register of Copyrights. Beginning today, December 16, an online survey is open to the public. The survey will be posted through January 31, 2017.

      • Tax Authority Grilled VLC Player Over Link From a Torrent Site

        With more than two billion downloads, VLC is one of the most popular media players around. The open source tool can play virtually every video file available and comes recommended by many, including some pirate sites. The latter has drawn the attention of France’s Tax Investigation Branch, which suggested that VideoLAN might be doing ‘shady’ deals. Luckily, they soon admitted their mistake.

Battistelli Brags About Being Unaccountable, But He is Wrong and is Probably in Defiance of the Law

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 10:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCREENSHOT of 'The rights and obligations of an international organisation'

Summary: In spite of breaking EPO rules on a regular basis, and despite defying laws of states where the EPO is based, Battistelli is happy to insinuate that he is guilty of nothing

THE premier source of scandals, Battistelli’s EPO, never ceased yielding further embarrassments, such as the above so-called ‘blog’ from Battistelli (warning: epo.org link), belatedly promoted by his obedient marketing bunnies some time yesterday.

“Battistelli has surrounded himself only by colleagues who agree with anything he says and try to get him out of scandals by somehow justifying his abuses…”Repeating any of it would merely amplify the lies (almost everything Battistelli says these days is a lie) and we don’t have time for a complete top-to-bottom rebuttal. What we will say, however, is that when Battistelli brags about being above the law he not only reminds his staff what an utterly disgusting person he is (a disgrace to France, say numerous French politicians, as recently as December). Battistelli seems to be suffering some sort of God complex or psychopathy — the same thing many people accuse Trump of having. Battistelli does not uphold the law; he violates the rules of the Organisation itself while the Chinchilla that's intended to supervise him does nothing. Battistelli has surrounded himself only by colleagues who agree with anything he says and try to get him out of scandals/trouble by somehow justifying his abuses (Minnoye, for example, said they would flagrantly ignore the highest Dutch court). These are the people who receive promotions and the accompanying payrise.

We recently found a much better ILOAT judgment than the one published here yesterday. It’s about not consulting the GAC/GCC (staff representatives) before making decisions. See judgment #2874 and in particular the part that says: “As the GAC was not consulted, the decision to place the complainant on the BEST list is flawed and must be set aside. The underlying question as to the method for implementing the amendments to the European Patent Convention is remitted to the President to be determined following consultation with the GAC.”

We have decided to reproduce the entire decision below (emphasis in yellow added by us):

Organisation internationale du Travail
Tribunal administratif

International Labour Organization
Administrative Tribunal

108th Session

Judgment No. 2874

THE ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL,

Considering the complaint filed by Mr A. J.-J. d. D. against the European Patent Organisation (EPO) on 30 April 2008, the EPO’s reply of 29 August and the complainant’s e-mail of 6 October 2008 informing the Registrar of the Tribunal that he did not wish to enter a rejoinder;

Considering Article II, paragraph 5, of the Statute of the Tribunal;

Having examined the written submissions and decided not to order hearings, for which neither party has applied;

Considering that the facts of the case and the pleadings may be summed up as follows:

A. Amongst other activities, the EPO processes international applications under the European Patent Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. One of the purposes of filing an international application is to ascertain whether a claimed invention is likely to be patentable before incurring the expense of applying, perhaps unsuccessfully, for patents at national or regional level. Under the procedure that was in place when the European Patent Office – the EPO’s secretariat – was set up each application was first submitted to a search examiner, who carried out a search in order to identify similar technology already known as a result of a written public disclosure. The inventor could then choose to obtain a more detailed opinion provided by a substantive examiner. In 1989 the formerly separate roles of search examiner and substantive examiner were combined through a pilot project known as “BEST” (Bringing Search and Examination Together). Examiners were to be trained to perform both search and examination duties so that applications could be dealt with by the same examiner (a “BEST examiner”). The BEST project was implemented at the Office, first in Directorate-General 1 in The Hague (Netherlands) and later in Directorate-General 2 in Munich (Germany). In June 1997 the Administrative Council approved in principle the Office-wide extension of BEST and instructed the Committee on Patent Law, whose mandate is to advise the Council inter alia on any legal matters concerning a revision of the European Patent Convention, to study the project in the context of the Convention and to submit its conclusions and recommendations. A majority of the Committee on Patent Law recommended that a diplomatic conference be held with a view to amending Articles 16 and 17 of the Convention as well as provisions of the Protocol on the Centralisation of the European Patent System and on its Introduction (hereinafter “Protocol on Centralisation”). This recommendation was endorsed by the Administrative Council and the proposed amendments were adopted in 2000 by the Conference of the Contracting States.

The complainant, who was born in 1966 and has dual French and Swedish nationality, joined the Office in 1991 as a search examiner and subsequently worked as a substantive examiner. By e-mail of 6 October 2004 his director informed him that his name had been put on the waiting list for transfer to BEST. In a further e-mail of 25 October she provided clarifications on this matter, stating inter alia that transfer to BEST was no longer done on a voluntary basis only. On 13 December 2004 the complainant was invited to take part in BEST training as from 6 April 2005.

On 18 January 2005 he lodged an appeal with the Internal Appeals Committee, requesting that the order to transfer him to BEST be cancelled and that the lawfulness of BEST be examined by the Committee. In its opinion delivered on 19 December 2007 the Committee found that the Office had failed to consult the General Advisory Committee (GAC) prior to deciding the compulsory Office-wide implementation of BEST, in breach of Article 38(3) of the Service Regulations for Permanent Employees of the Office and it recommended that the implementation of BEST be submitted to the GAC for its opinion. The Committee also recommended by a majority that a “symbolic” amount of 500 euros be awarded to the complainant in moral damages. By letter of 14 February 2008 the complainant was notified that the President of the Office had decided not to endorse the Committee’s recommendations and that his appeal had accordingly been rejected. That is the impugned decision.

B. The complainant submits that the Office-wide implementation of BEST breached Article 38(3) of the Service Regulations because the President of the Office failed to consult the GAC. Referring to the case law, he contends that in a similar case where the GAC was not consulted, the Tribunal set aside the impugned decision. He acknowledges that, in the present instance, setting aside the decision to implement BEST Office-wide might cause major disruptions but he points out that removing him from BEST would not occasion such disruptions and that, in any event, every examiner should be given the choice whether or not to work as a BEST examiner.

He also submits that since 1996 he has been the subject of repeated attacks from his line managers who sought to have him transferred to BEST. This, he says, had a negative impact on his self-esteem and health, thus entitling him to compensation in excess of the symbolic amount recommended by the Internal Appeals Committee.

The complainant asks the Tribunal to order that the GAC be consulted on the Office-wide implementation of BEST. He also asks the Tribunal to quash the decision to transfer him to BEST, at least until the outcome of the GAC’s consultation. He claims 10,000 euros in moral damages and 5,000 euros in costs.

C. In its reply the EPO objects to the receivability of the complaint insofar as it relates to the lawfulness of BEST. It submits that the GAC and the Internal Appeals Committee are both advisory bodies and that neither they nor the Tribunal are competent to rule on the lawfulness of the amendments adopted by the Conference of the Contracting States. It considers that the claim that every examiner should be given the choice to work or not as a BEST examiner is also irreceivable, because the complainant cannot challenge “an injustice purportedly suffered by his colleagues”.

On the merits the EPO contends that the complaint is unfounded. Article 38(3) of the Service Regulations did not require consultation of the GAC as the decisions to implement BEST Office-wide and to amend Articles 16 and 17 of the Convention and provisions of the Protocol on Centralisation were taken by the Conference of the Contracting States. They were thus binding on the Organisation and the President could not ignore them. Furthermore, the Office-wide implementation of BEST was an organisational matter which fell within the President’s power, under Article 10(2) of the Convention, to take all necessary steps to ensure the functioning of the Office. Referring to a Note concerning the Office’s Policy and Criteria for Migration to BEST, the EPO points out that all examiners had to be transferred to BEST and that the only possible exceptions were on the grounds of age or health reasons. It adds that an employee’s duties cannot be considered as acquired rights.

The Organisation argues that the complainant has failed to provide evidence that he was the victim of harassment. It points out that if, as he asserts, his health has been impaired, he can turn to the relevant medical authorities.

CONSIDERATIONS

1. In 1989 the EPO launched the “BEST” pilot project, which brought search and examination together in order to process more patent applications without increasing the number of staff members.

In June 1997 the Administrative Council approved in principle the implementation of BEST Office-wide and instructed the Committee on Patent Law to study the project in the context of the European Patent Convention and to submit its conclusions and recommendations. The Committee recommended by a majority that a diplomatic conference be convened for the purpose of amending Articles 16 and 17 of the Convention as well as the Protocol on Centralisation. The proposed amendments were adopted in 2000 by the Conference of the Contracting States. In essence, they removed mention of specific branch offices (The Hague, Munich and Berlin) and replaced them with a general reference to the Organisation to reflect the merging of search and examination duties Office-wide.

2. The complainant joined the Office at its branch in The Hague in 1991 as a search examiner. He was transferred to Munich in 1996 and worked as a substantive examiner. By an e-mail of 6 October 2004 his director informed him as well as all other non-BEST examiners, that they had been put on the official waiting list for transfer to BEST in the course of 2005, subject to the condition that training should not start before March 2005. In an e-mail of 25 October 2004 she pointed out that transfer to BEST was no longer voluntary.

3. The complainant lodged an appeal against the decision to transfer him to BEST and asked the Internal Appeals Committee to rescind it and to examine the lawfulness of BEST under the Convention as the decision to make BEST compulsory for all examiners had not been submitted to the GAC as required by Article 38(3) of the Service Regulations. In its opinion dated 19 December 2007 the Committee unanimously recommended:

“1. that the compulsory Office-wide implementation of BEST be submitted to the GAC for opinion as soon as possible [...] and that a decision be taken on that basis on whether [...] BEST [...] is to be maintained in its present form;
[...]
3. that in all other respects the appeal be dismissed as unfounded.”

It recommended by a majority that the complainant be paid the symbolic sum of 500 euros in damages. The minority opinion found that no personal injury was identifiable as a result of failure to consult the GAC and that therefore the complainant had no claim to damages.

4. The complainant was notified by a letter dated 14 February 2008 of the President’s decision to reject his appeal as irreceivable in part and unfounded in its entirety. The letter stated inter alia that the President was of the opinion that the introduction of BEST was not in the competency of the GAC as defined in Article 38(3) of the Service Regulations. Both that Committee and the Internal Appeals Committee acted as consulting bodies to the President and had no competency concerning the decisions taken by the Contracting States. The complainant’s request to examine the lawfulness of BEST was therefore considered irreceivable.

5. The complainant bases his complaint on Article 38(3) of the Service Regulations, which states:

“The General Advisory Committee shall, in addition to the specific tasks given to it by the Service Regulations, be responsible for giving a reasoned opinion on:
- any proposal to amend these Service Regulations or the Pension Scheme Regulations, any proposal to make implementing rules and, in general, except in cases of obvious urgency, any proposal which concerns the whole or part of the staff to whom these Service Regulations apply or the recipients of pensions;
- any question of a general nature submitted to it by the President of the Office;
- any question which the Staff Committee has asked to have examined and which is submitted to it by the President of the Office in accordance with the provisions of Article 36.”

6. The Organisation submits that the Office-wide implementation of BEST did not require consultation of the GAC under Article 38(3) and that the President was entitled under Article 10(2) of the European Patent Convention to reorganise the duties assigned to examiners. It notes that the complainant may only challenge the order that he himself work as a BEST examiner and not the lawfulness of BEST in general. The Organisation is of the opinion that, according to “Article 2 in conjunction with Article 4(3)” of the Convention, the President’s role in implementing the decision of the Conference of the Contracting States to apply BEST Office-wide was very limited: he “had no discretion to accept or ignore it, he simply had to implement it”. The Organisation further notes that the Tribunal’s case law has determined that the head of an international organisation “is empowered to change the duties assigned to his subordinates” and has the “executive authority to assign staff to different posts” (see Judgments 265 and 534, under 1).

7. The Tribunal held that “Article 38(3) does of course [...] apply to cases where the Service Regulations and Pension Scheme Regulations are to be amended or ‘implementing rules’ are to be made, and the legal status of staff is thereby to be affected. But it goes further: it applies to cases where ‘any proposal’ is made ‘which concerns the whole or part of the staff’. So it casts a wide net that goes beyond mere changes in legal provisions.” The Tribunal has also held that “Article 38(3) does not interfere with the President’s exercise of his decision-making authority, but seeks to ensure that the proposal shall go through a formal process in which the staff have a right to be consulted through the General Advisory Committee” (see Judgment 1488, under 9 and 10). Furthermore, in accordance with the provision of Article 10(2) of the European Patent Convention, the President “shall take all necessary steps to ensure the functioning of the European Patent Office, including the adoption of internal administrative instructions and information to the public”, and unless otherwise stipulated in the Convention “he shall prescribe which acts are to be performed at the European Patent Office in Munich and its branch at The Hague respectively”. The exercise of these powers is, thus, subject to Article 38(3) of the Service Regulations and the GAC must be consulted on “any proposal which concerns the whole or part of the staff”.

8. The Organisation is correct in asserting that the Tribunal is not competent to rule on the lawfulness of the amendments to the Convention. However, that does not mean that the President could choose the method for implementing the amendments without consulting the GAC. He could have dispensed with that consultation only if the amendments themselves foreclosed any choice as to the method of implementation. This was not the case; there were several factors not mentioned in the amendments in question which could be relevant in choosing a method of implementation. Therefore, there should have been a consultation of the GAC.

9. As the GAC was not consulted, the decision to place the complainant on the BEST list is flawed and must be set aside. The underlying question as to the method for implementing the amendments to the European Patent Convention is remitted to the President to be determined following consultation with the GAC. The complainant must return to his previous non-BEST duties until that has been done.

10. The Tribunal agrees with the Organisation that the complainant has failed to prove any harassment or to follow proper procedure to assess alleged health problems and therefore disregards them in the calculation of damages. Considering the failure to consult the GAC and the time spent by the complainant acting as a BEST examiner, the Tribunal awards him 3,000 euros in moral damages. As the complaint succeeds, the Tribunal awards him 800 euros in costs.

DECISION

For the above reasons,

1. The President’s decision dated 14 February 2008 concerning the complainant’s internal appeal is set aside as is the earlier decision to place the complainant on the BEST list.

2. The question as to the method for implementing the amendments to the European Patent Convention is remitted to the President to be determined following consultation with the General Advisory Committee.

3. The Organisation shall pay the complainant 3,000 euros as compensation for the moral injury he suffered.

4. It shall also pay him 800 euros in costs.

5. All remaining claims are dismissed.

In witness of this judgment, adopted on 5 November 2009, Ms Mary G. Gaudron, President of the Tribunal, Mr Giuseppe Barbagallo, Judge, and Ms Dolores M. Hansen, Judge, sign below, as do I, Catherine Comtet, Registrar.

Delivered in public in Geneva on 3 February 2010.

Mary G. Gaudron
Giuseppe Barbagallo
Dolores M. Hansen
Catherine Comtet

This decision is very relevant as it shows that Battistelli must actually learn to respect the Office’s own rules, or else risk breaking the ‘law of Eponia’ (which he regularly breaks anyway). How many decisions and proposals has Battistelli passed in complete defiance of the rules of the Office and the Organisation? What does that say about the governance of the EPO?

Battistelli “Got Full Dictatorial Unaccountable Control of a Diplomatically Immune Organisation”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The European Patent Office is continuing and expanding its abuses, having already become Europe’s greatest source of shame (akin to the most primitive countries in the world)

Jean-Baptiste Deprecq
Like an occupying force from another country

Summary: Growing anger towards the European Patent Office (EPO) and in particular its rogue management, as well as further union-busting moves, which are bound to cause the EPO to implode even faster

THE EPO scandals continue to deepen, even if SUEPO is quiet (due to fear of retribution) and Merpel is totally silent at IP Kat, more so after the site got sanctioned with a ban. Today, for a change, IP Kat does an advertisement for the EPO (for free!). This kind of appalling media (and even blog) “blackout” is particularly dangerous because it means Battistelli and his thugs can make a killing, almost literally too (their illegal, as per national law, behaviour already contributes to suicides).

“This kind of appalling media (and even blog) “blackout” is particularly dangerous because it means Battistelli and his thugs can make a killing, almost literally too…”Based on today’s new article from Juve (in German, translations welcome), EPO stakeholders urgently want to drain the Battistelli swamp. They too realise that the reputation of the Office, if not the Office as a whole, is in a state of collapse; it’s not just a swamp but a sea of nepotism and corruption. This cannot go on like this… Europe’s reputation (as a whole, as a continent) is already being severely harmed by the EPO.

Battistelli, based on this new report from the British media, keeps changing the rules to basically ban/punish anything that challenges his horrible autocracy. Can only a coup toss him out? As we shall show in the next post, he takes great pride in being above the law.

“In the banana republic known as Eponia you can get away with anything, probably even with rape, as long as you are in management…”Today’s European Patent Office, in my personal opinion, is one of Europe’s (if not the world’s) most corrupt organisations, but many people don’t know it, at least not yet. Never before have I seen an institution so crooked — crooked enough to threaten bloggers to shut them up. As we showed in our previous post, Battistelli’s EPO has just given yet another payrise for Battistelli’s buddies. In the banana republic known as Eponia you can get away with anything, probably even with rape, as long as you are in management (some people have gone as far as comparing Battistelli to Dominique Strauss-Kahn). Remember that the EPO’s management can (and does) refuse authorities — police included — on-site access, even when people die.

The latest news is this:

King Battistelli tries again to break Euro Patent Office union

The president of the European Patent Office has embarked on yet another effort to undermine his organization’s staff union.

In confidential documents seen by The Register, the president’s team has drafted changes to the organization’s articles that would effectively give him veto power over the election of union representatives, as well as limit what those representatives could do.

[...]

Although Battistelli’s stubborn persistence and gradual rewriting of rules to grant himself increasing power over the organization appears to be working, it is coming at a high cost.

In December, a Parliamentarian told the French National Assembly that his fellow countryman was “a disgrace to France.” In response, the French trade minister made it clear he did not support Battistelli and noted that his actions had been “the subject of convictions by the courts of the Netherlands, by the ILO [International Labour Organization] bodies and the Board of Directors of the agency.”

The EPO staff union has appealed no fewer than three times to its Administrative Council to fire Battistelli. And other international staff unions, including from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), have been fierce in their criticism. Media outlets across Europe and ranging from mainstream to patent-industry-specific publications have been increasingly vocal about the failure of the EPO’s management team to handle the crisis.

But perhaps most damagingly, the EPO’s customers have started taking note. In a recent survey carried out by news service Juve, over 170 heads of patent departments at large corporations and industrial groups in Germany – who represent the bulk of the EPO’s applicants and hence customers – gave a damning assessment of the EPO and its current president.

As with an internal survey last year, the independent external survey of EPO clients gave Battistelli a zero per cent confidence rating.

Comments already compare Battistelli and his thugs (some are facing criminal charges) to Trump and Bannon, who tells the media to “shut up” — almost as bad as the EPO which sends threatening legal letters to the media.

One person wrote: “..sacking people that disagree with him. Appointing yes men to high places. Forcing his views across regardless of what those say around him. This is all sounding very familiar.”

Another person wrote: “What will it take to get rid of this guy? Surprised no mention was made of the incident with the brakes on his bike.”

The very fact that it has become joking material shows just how desperate people have become to remove him. One response to it says: “Probably a Kickstarter raising enough to hire an assassin. I don’t see anything else working…”

Well, there was crowdfunding for a Battistelli exit party.

“More worrying,” explained one person is this:

Is the number of respondents to the survey who DIDN’T think that he should resign.

This suggests that they support his general approach. Much like the body who can remove him but won’t.

Rumours with some solid basis suggest that Battistelli is simply 'buying' votes.

Comparing Battistelli to Trump is probably an insult to Trump, not to Battistelli. One person asked: “Is the Trumpster getting pointers from this guy?”

“This is bound to end in a serious shake up,” said another person and here is why:

The longer this saga drags on the more I feel this can only end in a complete overhaul of the structure. Once its constituent members have had enough and start to apply real pressure that will be inevitable.

Making it an EU institution with associated membership for non-EU members such as Turkey and Albania and with parliamentary oversight by the European Parliament sounds like a logical conclusion.

“What do you mean ‘once’ they do,” another person remarked. “Surely they have been for some time, still shows no sign of budging.”

The final comment for now is this:

What I don’t understand is

Why is he doing this at all?

If he suddenly got full dictatorial unaccountable control of a diplomatically immune organisation, what does he plan to do with it?

What’s in it for him to make himself the second most unpopular leader in Europe?

Notice that not a single person is sympathetic towards Battistelli. How on Earth does he keep his job? What does that say about the EPO?

EPO Members of Team Battistelli Promoted to Shield the Liar in Chief

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

Sociopaths rewarded. Again.

Erdoğan and EPO
Original photo: Erdoğan, 2012

Summary: The European Patent Office has become so malicious that only malicious people seem to receive promotions while ethical people — those brave enough to point out the problems — get dismissed or just demoted (if they are lucky)

SEVERAL days ago we saw claims that EPO sociopaths, those who are largely responsible for Battistelli’s regime that causes many suicides, have been promoted, whereupon we asked readers for input. Several people got in touch with us and were able to confirm. One person wrote:

About Promotions…

Who said that hard work is not rewarded at EPO? The most recent promotions at EPO proves otherwise:

- Richard Flammer Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee : PROMOTED

- Claudio Zanghi Director Head of Investigation Unit : PROMOTED

- Gilles Requena Director of Presidential Office and right hand of Battistelli (and spouse of Elodie Bergot PD HR) : PROMOTED

- Yann Chabod Director HR and right hand of PD HR Elodie Bergot (the spouse of Gilles Requena) : PROMOTED

Separately, another reader told us “that quote on IPKat is correct.” More specifically:

The following people were promoted:

Claudio Zanghi – Director of the Investigation Unit

Gilles Requena – Right hand of the President, husband of Elodie Bergot

Yann Chabod – Director of Personnel, right hand of Elodie Bergot

Richard Flammer – PD Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee

Someone else told us the same thing last week, but we were unable to verify. So there we go… the EPO looks more scandalous every week. When does this madness end? Why is there no ombudsman capable of dealing with this institutional and constitutional corruption/abuse?

01.30.17

Links 30/1/2017: Zemlin Does Politics, Ubuntu and Fedora Need Wallpapers

Posted in News Roundup at 7:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Intel’s BigDL: The Latest Deep Learning Tool to Go Open Source

    As we’ve been reporting, artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning remain red hot open source technology categories. A whole slew of applications for the artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning spaces were open sourced last year, and as this year ramps up, Intel is the latest organization to open source a key deep learning tool.

    The company has open sourced BigDL, a distributed deep learning library that runs on Apache Spark. It harnesses Spark clusters to run deep learning algorithms and simplifies the data loading from big datasets stored in Hadoop.

  • Events

    • Savoir-faire Linux Platinum Sponsor of DebConf17

      Savoir-faire Linux is a Montreal-based Free/Open-Source Software company with offices in Quebec City, Toronto, Paris and Lyon. It offers Linux and Free Software integration solutions in order to provide performance, flexibility and independence for its clients. The company actively contributes to many free software projects, and provide mirrors of Debian, Ubuntu, Linux and others.

    • IoTivity-Constrained: A Flexible Framework for Tiny Devices

      The future of IoT will be connected by tiny, resource-constrained edge devices, says Senior Software Engineer at the Intel Open Source Technology Center. And, the IoTivity-Constrained project is a small-footprint implementation of the Open Connectivity Foundation’s (OCF) standards that’s designed to run on just such devices.

      In his upcoming talk at Embedded Linux Conference + OpenIoT Summit, Kishen, who is lead developer and maintainer of the IoTivity-Constrained project, will present the project’s architecture, features, and uses. We spoke with Kishen to get a preview of his talk and more information about this lightweight, customizable framework for IoT.

    • WOOTConf 2017: Lockpicking, Willie Nelson developers, and more

      Do you know that wonderful feeling when a tiny little idea becomes a reality? That’s what this year’s WOOTConf at linux.conf.au 2017 was for me.

      It was a full day jam-packed with amazing, deeply technical talks from ten wonderful speakers.

    • See you at FOSDEM

      This time I have no talk (I somehow failed to submit anything in time), but still I’m there to meet people and listen to some talks. As I’ve agreed to help Software Freedom Conservancy on stand (in the H building), it’s quite likely that you will find me there. You will also have unique chance to grab phpMyAdmin stickers at this stand.

    • BelFOSS 2017

      On Friday I attended the second BelFOSS conference. I’d spoken about my involvement with Debian at the conference last year, which seemed to be well received. This year I’d planned to just be a normal attendee, but ended up roped in at a late stage to be part of a panel discussing various licensing issues. I had a thoroughly enjoyable day – there were many great speakers, and plenty of opportunity for interesting chats with other attendees.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Back End

    • American Express Wants “Full Advantage of Blockchain”, Joins Open-Source Hyperledger Project

      Credit card giant American Express has joined the Linux Foundation-led open-source cross-industry blockchain working group, the Hyperledger Project.

      In yet another noted example of the traditional financial services industry turning to Fintech’s poster child in blockchain technology, American Express has joined the Hyperledger Project as a ‘Premier’ member.

    • AmEx Joins JPMorgan, IBM in Hyperledger Blockchain Effort

      American Express Co. is elbowing its way into the crowded blockchain party.

      The biggest credit-card issuer by purchases has signed on to the Hyperledger Project, a industry group of more than 100 members developing blockchain technology for corporate use. The digital ledger known for underpinning bitcoin has potential to reshape the global financial system and other industries.

      American Express will contribute code and engineers to Hyperledger, which was started by the Linux Foundation in 2015 and now counts companies like International Business Machines Corp., Airbus Group SE and JPMorgan Chase & Co. as members. Many banks had previously joined a consortium called R3 CEV to explore ways to speed financial transactions using blockchain, but that group has lost members and last year formally joined Hyperledger.

    • Lessons Learned Running IBM Watson on Mesos
    • OpenStack Community Elects 2017 Board of Directors

      Individual Directors elected on Friday, January 13, are:

      Tim Bell, CERN
      Russell Bryant, Red Hat
      Steven Dake, Cisco Systems
      ChangBo Guo, EasyStack
      Kavit Munshi, Aptira
      Allison Randal, HPE
      Egle Sigler, Rackspace
      Shane Wang, Intel

      Gold Directors elected on Wednesday, January 4, are:

      Robert Esker, NetApp
      Kenji Kaneshige, Fujitsu
      Anni Lai, Huawei
      Junwei Liu, China Mobile
      Christopher Price, Ericsson
      Boris Renski, Mirantis
      Lew Tucker, Cisco Systems
      Joseph Wang, InwinStack

      Platinum Directors appointments are:

      Mark Baker, Canonical
      Alan Clark, SUSE
      Eileen Evans, HPE
      Toby Ford, AT&T
      Mark McLoughlin, Red Hat
      Todd Moore, IBM
      Imad Sousou, Intel
      Brian Stein, Rackspace

    • Supporting our global community
    • OpenStack Use Cases – New Analyst Papers and Webinar Now Available
    • Transitioning from OpenStack hobbyist to professional

      The hardest part of pivoting your career is proving that you are qualified in your new focus area. To land your first OpenStack job, you’ll want to prove you have a functional understanding of OpenStack basics, can navigate the resources to solve problems and have recognized competency in your focus area.

    • From hobbyist to professional, new analyst papers, and more OpenStack news
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.3 Is Coming This Week, A Look At The New Features

      LibreOffice 5.3 is expected to be released this week as the latest feature update to this cross-platform, open-source office suite. Here’s a quick feature overview look for those interested in LibreOffice 5.3.

      LibreOffice 5.3 will include many user-interface UI/UX improvements and the initial work on the MUFFIN project.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • Deputy decries lack of support for Linux in French Assembly

      The IT department at the French National Assembly should improve its support for Linux, says National Assembly Deputy Sergio Coronado. In a letter to the Assembly’s president, he objects to the lack of software updates and absence of technical support for deputies that use Linux on their computers.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Enforcement of open source licenses?

      What happens when codes are released under an open source license? Has the developer in effect written off his right to the code? Can a developer of open source software enforce his rights, or has he released his code to the world free of charge?

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Donald Trump’s Big Macs, bacon and Doritos – deconstructing his diet

      You’re the world’s most powerful man, moving into the world’s most famous address. Your staff includes five full-time chefs, which is four more than most cafes. So what’s top of president Donald Trump’s shopping list? Lay’s potato chips and Doritos, that’s what.

      Ah, crisps! Just the ticket for powering through a day of dubious decision-making and 3am tweets, no? Jo Travers, a dietitian and author of The Low-Fad Diet, is unconvinced. She is particularly worried about the impact of Trump’s diet (heavy on the fast food, easy on the veg) on his ability to think straight.

    • Is Gates Foundation, WHO’s Biggest Private Funder, Ineligible To Join WHO? [Ed: This headline contains an error. Should say “Briber” (for profit/agenda), not “Funder”; trying to buy even more influence.]

      In the letter, the groups detail the example of the Gates Foundation, which is seeking to be admitted as an external actor in “official relations” with the WHO and as a non-voting member of the World Health Assembly. The Gates Foundation is the largest non-governmental donor of the WHO.

    • WHO Board Agrees To Drop The Word ‘Counterfeit’ After 30 Years

      For nearly 30 years, the United Nations World Health Organization has been referring to poor-quality and fake medicines as counterfeit. But that is about to change.

      The new words approved by the WHO Executive Board on 27 January are “substandard and falsified,” which captures whether the drug is made with substandard ingredients or is represented as something it is not. The word ‘counterfeit’ would now be restored in practical terms to meaning a trademark violation, as it is defined under World Trade Organization rules on intellectual property.

    • WHO Members Negotiate Resolution On Cancer; High Prices In Question

      Cancer is spreading. According to the World Health Organization, the number of new cases of cancer is projected to increase to 21.6 million annually by 2030. The WHO Executive Board this week is considering a draft resolution for actions by the WHO member states and the secretariat. The resolution is being discussed and amended as issues such as the affordability and the accessibility of new cancer medicines, in particular in developing countries, are highlighted by many.

  • Security

    • ATM ‘Shimmers’ Target Chip-Based Cards

      Several readers have called attention to warnings coming out of Canada about a supposedly new form of card skimming called “shimming” that targets chip-based credit and debit cards. Shimming attacks are not new (KrebsOnSecurity first wrote about them in August 2015), but they are likely to become more common as a greater number of banks in the United States shift to issuing chip-based cards. Here’s a brief primer on shimming attacks, and why they succeed.

    • Senior journo slams ‘frustrating’ Windows 10 updates

      A senior editor at the American technology news website Cnet has slammed Microsoft over what he calls the most “frustrating” thing about Windows 10: the update process that happens automatically and cannot be stopped by users.

      Sean Hollister wrote about issues that he had faced and also problems encountered by a large number of Windows 10 users, all of whom had lost work or been forced to interrupt their schedules due to a Windows 10 update.

    • Does Trump’s Old Android Phone Pose Major Security Threat?

      Donald Trump is a big fan of the phones in the White House. “These are the most beautiful phones I’ve ever used in my life,” he told the New York Times in an interview this week. It’s not their aesthetics he’s drawn to, but the security built into the system that ensures no one is tapping his calls.

    • President Trump’s Insecure Android

      Once compromised, the phone becomes a bug—even more catastrophic than Great Seal—able to record everything around it and transmit the information once it reattaches to the network. And to be clear even a brand new, fully updated Android or iPhone is insufficient: The President of the United States is worth a great many multiples of expensive zero-day exploits.

    • Everything you know about security is wrong, stop protecting your empire!

      Let’s start with AV. A long time ago everyone installed an antivirus application. It’s just what you did, sort of like taking your vitamins. Most people can’t say why, they just know if they didn’t do this everyone would think they’re weird. Here’s the question for you to think about though: How many times did your AV actually catch something? I bet the answer is very very low, like number of times you’ve seen bigfoot low. And how many times have you seen AV not stop malware? Probably more times than you’ve seen bigfoot. Today malware is big business, they likely outspend the AV companies on R&D. You probably have some control in that phone book sized policy guide that says you need AV. That control is quite literally wasting your time and money. It would be in your best interest to get it changed.

      Usability vs security is one of my favorite topics these days. Security lost. It’s not that usability won, it’s that there was never really a battle. Many of us security types don’t realize that though. We believe that there is some eternal struggle between security and usability where we will make reasonable and sound tradeoffs between improving the security of a system and adding a text field here and an extra button there. What really happened was the designers asked to use the bathroom and snuck out through the window. We’re waiting for them to come back and discuss where to add in all our great ideas on security.

    • Reproducible Builds: week 91 in Stretch cycle

      Verifying Software Freedom with Reproducible Builds will be presented by Vagrant Cascadian at Libreplanet2017 in Boston, March 25th-26th.

    • Linux devices with standard settings infected by Linux.Proxy.10 malware

      Linux operating system was once known to be the most secure OS in the world, but things have changed since security researchers have found malware like Mirai and Bashlite infecting Linux-devices turning them into DDoS botnets. Now, another malware has been discovered targeting Linux.

    • Linux.Proxy.10 infects thousands of devices with standard settings
    • 4 ways to improve your security online right now

      Regardless of how monumental a task digital security can seem, you can lay a strong foundation when you get started. Remember that being secure is an ongoing process, rather than a state of being. Keep the tools you use up to date and periodically check your habits and tools to ensure your security is the best it can be. Security doesn’t have to be overly complex if you take it one step at a time.

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • Linux Security Threats: Attack Sources and Types of Attacks

      In part 1 of this series, we discussed the seven different types of hackers who may compromise your Linux system. White hat and black hat hackers, script kiddies, hacktivists, nation states, organized crime, and bots are all angling for a piece of your system for their own nefarious/various reasons.

    • OpenSSL issues new patches as Heartbleed still lurks [Ed: Dramatic sensationalism from IDG again, with FUD logo created by a Microsoft-connected firm]

      The OpenSSL Project has addressed some moderate-severity security flaws, and administrators should be particularly diligent about applying the patches since there are still 200,000 systems vulnerable to the Heartbleed flaw.

    • Linux: The 10 best privacy and security distributions

      Privacy has become an important issue for many users as corporations and governments stop at nothing to gather personal information. But Linux users do have some choices when it comes to distributions that help protect their privacy and security.

    • openssh authorized_keys “restrict” option lessens worries

      Starting with OpenSSH 7.2, a new “restrict” option for authorized_keys lines has become available. It sets all available restrictions that the current OpenSSH version can do (like no-agent-forwarding, no-x11-forwarding etc). One can individually turn on those features again by corresponding new options.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Québec mosque shooting: Six people killed after gunmen open fire in ‘terrorist attack on Muslims’
    • Canadian PM Justin Trudeau says mosque shooting a ‘terrorist attack on Muslims’

      The shooting at a Quebec mosque during Sunday night prays which reportedly killed five people was a “terrorist attack on Muslims”, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

      “We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge,” Trudeau said in a statement.

      Five people were killed after gunmen opened fire in a Quebec City mosque, the mosque’s president told reporters on Sunday. A witness told Reuters that up to three gunmen fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Center.

    • Jihadist groups hail Trump’s travel ban as a victory

      Jihadist groups on Sunday celebrated the Trump administration’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, saying the new policy validates their claim that the United States is at war with Islam.

      Comments posted to pro-Islamic State social media accounts predicted that President Trump’s executive order would persuade American Muslims to side with the extremists. One posting hailed the U.S. president as “the best caller to Islam,” while others predicted that Trump would soon launch a new war in the Middle East.

      “[Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi has the right to come out and inform Trump that banning Muslims from entering America is a ‘blessed ban,’” said one posting to a pro-Islamic State channel on Telegram, a social-media platform. The writer compared the executive order to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Islamic militant leaders at the time hailed as a “blessed invasion” that ignited anti-Western fervor across the Islamic world.

    • U.S. Commando Killed in Yemen in Trump’s First Counterterrorism Operation

      One American commando was killed and three others were wounded in a fierce firefight early Sunday with Qaeda militants in central Yemen, the military said on Sunday. It was the first counterterrorism operation authorized by President Trump since he took office, and the commando was the first United States service member to die in the yearslong shadow war against Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.

      Members of the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 carried out the surprise dawn attack, and the military said that about 14 Qaeda fighters were killed during a nearly hourlong battle. A Qaeda leader — a brother-in-law of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric and top Qaeda leader in Yemen, who died in a drone strike in 2011 — was believed to have been killed.

      After initially denying that there were any civilian casualties, American officials said they were assessing reports that women and children had died in the attack.

    • Obama’s administration made the “Muslim ban” possible and the media won’t tell you

      I was outraged by the ban on refugees from war-torn countries in the Middle East. I’ve covered refugees fleeing war in Iraq and Syria over the last two years, meeting families on the road in Greece, Serbia and Macedonia, speaking to poor people in Turkey and Jordan and discussing the hopes and fears of people displaced in Iraq. If you want to ban “terrorists,” these are the last people to hit with a refugee ban. Instead the government should be using the best intelligence possible to find people being radicalized, some of whom have lived in the US their whole lives or who come from countries not affected by the ban, such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

    • Protests Build Across the Country Against Trump’s Immigration Order

      President Trump defended his executive order restricting the entry into the U.S. of people from seven Muslim-dominated countries, saying the move was not about religion but about keeping the country safe, but administration officials appeared to backtrack on the scope of the order, even as demonstrators gathered across the U.S. to protest.

      Massive crowds packed Boston’s Copley Square, Battery Park in New York City and outside the White House, and public areas in other cities, with demonstrations also held at airports from coast to coast to protest the order, which suspended immigration from countries with ties to terror — Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Libya — for 90 days. The order also indefinitely suspends Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.

    • Trump Memorandum on Organization of National Security Council
    • Trump gives National Security Council seat to ex-Breitbart chief Steve Bannon

      President Donald Trump granted controversial adviser Steve Bannon a regular seat at meetings of the National Security Council on Saturday, in a presidential memorandum that brought the former Breitbart publisher into some of the most sensitive meetings at the highest levels of government.

      [...]

      In an interview with the New York Times this week, Bannon called the press “the opposition party” and said it should “keep its mouth shut”. He has previously described himself as “a Leninist” and an “economic nationalist”.

    • Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban Is Cowardly and Dangerous

      The order lacks any logic. It invokes the attacks of Sept. 11 as a rationale, while exempting the countries of origin of all the hijackers who carried out that plot and also, perhaps not coincidentally, several countries where the Trump family does business. The document does not explicitly mention any religion, yet it sets a blatantly unconstitutional standard by excluding Muslims while giving government officials the discretion to admit people of other faiths.

    • Emir of Kano cautions Muslim clerics against using mosque as cover up to preach hate

      Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has warned Muslim clerics in the country to stop using the mosques as a cover up to preach disunity and inciting one another that could lead to disorder and insecurity in the country.

      Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi who gave the warning in his sermon after commissioning the ultra modern mosque of the Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger state yesterday, said rather than incite people through preachings, the clerics should focus more on uniting the people of the country and preach against incessant killings of one another which he said is ungodly.

    • Philippine troops kill 15 Islamic State supporters; rebel leader wounded

      Philippine soldiers killed 15 militants and seriously wounded their leader, believed to be the Islamic State’s representative in the country, following air and artillery strikes in a southern province, a senior military official said on Sunday.

      Isnilon Hapilon, also known as Abu Abdullah and a leader of the Philippine militant group Abu Sayyaf, might die as he needed immediate medical treatment, military chief General Eduardo Ano told reporters, citing intelligence and communications intercepts.

      “He needs blood transfusion. Without proper medical treatment, he may die,” Ano said.

    • Girl, 17, found with bullet to head

      A 17-YEAR-OLD girl was found with her hands bound behind her back and a single bullet wound to the back of the head in bushes near her home at Calvary Trace, Arima shortly after 11 am yesterday.

      The victim was identified as Celine Thomas. Her boyfriend Carlyle Hamilton, 33, was hours earlier shot and critically wounded.

      According to reports, Hamilton was at home at 9.30 pm on Thursday when he was attacked by gunmen as he turned and ran out of the house, gunshots were fired and Hamilton was struck several times. He sought assistance from neighbours and was taken to hospital where he was treated and warded in stable condition.

      At 11 am yesterday, residents of Calvary Trace found Thomas’ body with her hands bound and a bullet wound to the back of her head. Officers of the Arima police as well as homicide officers were called to the scene and the body ordered removed to the Forensic Science Centre.

    • We Are Keeping Out Exactly The Immigrants We Should Be Welcoming — Honored Clemson Grad Kept Off A Plane, Separated From Her Dog And Life In SC

      This woman is exactly the sort of immigrant we want here. As for her legal status, a friend of hers, Shivakumar Chinnam, writes in the comments below her Facebook post, “She is on student visa. Finished her Phd recently.”

      I would guess that the American company she works for has applied for and probably gotten a work visa for her.

      Also, for anyone who knows the slightest thing about Islam, it is plain that she is the opposite of a radical Islamist.

    • US soldiers shoot and kill 8-year-old girl in Yemen

      While the media attention has been focused on the death of one US serviceman who was killed during a raid in Yemen, one of the most tragic casualties of the assault ordered by President Donald Trump was an eight-year-old girl.

      The raid took place over the weekend, as US forces attempted a “site exploitation” attack that attempted to gather intelligence on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the extremist group behind several high-profile terror attacks, including the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in two years ago.

      Though the United States hailed the operation as a success, reports from Yemen would seem to indicate that the price paid by Yemeni civilians and non-combatants was extraordinarily high.

    • Obama Killed a 16-Year-Old American in Yemen. Trump Just Killed His 8-Year-Old Sister.

      In 2010, President Obama directed the CIA to assassinate an American citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki, despite the fact that he had never been charged with (let alone convicted of) any crime, and the agency successfully carried out that order a year later with a September, 2011 drone strike. While that assassination created widespread debate – the once-again-beloved ACLU sued Obama to restrain him from the assassination on the ground of due process and then, when that suit was dismissed, sued Obama again after the killing was carried out – another drone-killing carried out shortly thereafter was perhaps even more significant yet generated relatively little attention.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • As Trump Reboots Pipeline Expansion, An Unexpected Delay Emerges

      Just as President Trump takes power promising to ramp up oil and gas production, a sudden resignation in a key agency threatens to put such projects on hold across the United States.

      On Thursday, Norman Bay, one of just three current members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), said he would resign effective Feb. 3, even though his term isn’t up until next year. His announcement came shortly after Trump decided Bay’s fellow commissioner, Cheryl LaFleur, would serve as the Commission’s new chair.

    • DAPL Protesters Hold Rally In Downtown Tulsa

      Protesters continue to camp in North Dakota, near the site of the contentious pipeline project that President Trump is pushing to finish.

      The order to speed up both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines is drawing both praise and controversy.

      In downtown Tulsa, a rally against the pipeline was held Saturday afternoon.

      Between 150 and 200 people were at the rally for about two hours at John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park protesting.

    • American Psychological Association Weighs in on Trump’s Memorandum on DAPL

      Longtime activist Winona LaDuke says the actions to ignore the wishes of water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota seek to dehumanize American Indians.

      The American Psychological Association weighed in this past week after President Trump’s issuance of a presidential memorandum regarding construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline with this statement:

      “The American Psychological Association is concerned by President Trump’s apparent attempt to clear the way for the Dakota Access Pipeline to move forward as originally planned, which threatens the welfare of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

    • 8 Things You Didn’t Realize Will Be Ruined By Climate Change

      When you consider what a feat it is to willfully ignore mounting scientific evidence that global warming is affecting the world, climate change deniers are almost admirable. We say “almost,” because as we continue to argue over whether turning our planet into a colossal dutch oven by spewing toxic chemicals into the air is bad, climate change is slowly compiling a kaleidoscope of unexpected ways to make all of our lives a living hell.

    • How close is 1.5°C? Depends when you measure from

      Most scientists studying global warming compare today’s temperatures to those of the late 19th century because that is as far back as quality temperature observations go. But a new study makes the case for a better comparison period, one that includes the warming that had already resulted by the middle of the 1800s and shows how close the world already is to breaching international warming targets.

      Under the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, countries agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to keep global temperature rise “well below” 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels and limit it to 1.5°C (2.7°F) above that mark in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But the agreement left undefined exactly what period is considered “pre-industrial.”

      Most climate scientists use the second half of the 19th century as a stand-in for pre-industrial times, because of the lack of widespread temperature observations before that point. But as the Industrial Revolution was already underway by then, it is likely that there was already some human-caused warming by that point. A study published in Nature last year found a small, but detectable increase in global temperatures as far back as the 1830s for some parts of the world.

    • Trump ‘will definitely pull out of Paris climate change deal’

      A former climate change adviser to Donald Trump has said the US President will pull America out of the landmark Paris agreement and an executive order on the issue could come within “days”.

      Myron Ebell, who took charge of Mr Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team, said the President was determined to undo policies pushed by Barack Obama to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

      He said the US would “clearly change its course on climate policy” under the new administration and claimed Mr Trump was “pretty clear that the problem or the crisis has been overblown and overstated”.

  • Finance

    • Federal Reserve Bankers Mocked Unemployed Americans Behind Closed Doors

      In 2011, unemployment was at a near crisis level. The jobless rate was stuck around 9 percent nationally, an unusually high number due to the continuing effects of the financial crash.

      House Democrats were aghast. “With almost five unemployed Americans for every job opening, too many people remain jobless because of a lack of work, not a lack of wanting to work,” said Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Tex. So in early November 2011, they introduced a bill to reauthorize Federal unemployment benefits, an insurance program designed to aide those looking for work.

      Behind closed doors at the Federal Reserve however, the conversation struck a different tone.

      The Federal Reserve’s mandate is to promote “maximum employment,” which essentially means: print enough money so that everyone who wants one has a job. Yet according to transcripts released this month after the traditional five-year waiting period, Federal Reserve officials in November 2011 were debating whether unemployment was caused by bad work ethics and drug use – rather than by the greatest financial crisis in 80 years. This debate then factored into the argument over setting monetary policy.

    • Trump Promised to Resign From His Companies — But There’s No Record He’s Done So

      At a news conference last week, now-President Donald Trump said he and his daughter, Ivanka, had signed paperwork relinquishing control of all Trump-branded companies. Next to him were stacks of papers in manila envelopes — documents he said transferred “complete and total control” of his businesses to his two sons and another longtime employee.

      Sheri Dillon, the Trump attorney who presented the plan, said that Trump “has relinquished leadership and management of the Trump Organization.” Everything would be placed in a family trust by Jan. 20, she said.

    • Liberalism as Class Warfare

      What anti-establishment voters, and those who consciously withheld their votes, got right in the recent election is that the illusion of choice provided by the major Parties is anti-politics. Liberals, as guardians of the status quo, are class warriors on the side of economic mal-distribution and the immiseration of the laboring classes and poor for the benefit of the rich. The ease with which the misdirection of ‘deplorables’ was sold illustrates the conundrum confronting any actual Left political movement.

    • The high price Sunderland and Newcastle could pay for Brexit revealed

      The potentially disastrous cost of leaving the EU has been laid bare in a sobering report.

      The Cities Outlook 2017 report reveals 59% of all exports from Sunderland, the first place to declare its backing of Brexit, go to EU countries – the ninth highest figure out of 62 UK cities.

      Sunderland is also one of only seven cities which are heavily reliant on a specific industry for the majority of their exports – car-making at its Nissan plant.

    • Will Trump kill the Trump rally?

      Instead of focusing on pushing his stimulus plans through Congress, as investors had hoped, Trump is instead acting first on polarizing issues like the ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations. The White House has also taken an aggressive stance on trade, raising concerns on Wall Street over the risk of a trade war.

      In other words, investors want tax cuts and spades in the ground, not deeply divisive travel bans.

      After a weekend of confusion and protests over the Trump travel ban, the Dow dropped more than 200 points on Monday.

    • New ISDS consultation seems surreal

      The European Commission has launched a consultation on an investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) variant: a multilateral investment court. 1 In an email the commission confirms the consultation has a narrow scope. The commission does not want feedback on the system as a whole. This way the system’s social and environmental impacts will go unmentioned in the consultation results.

      This is irresponsible, as the system as a whole will strengthen investments vis-à-vis democracy and fundamental rights. This undermines our values and ability to respond to crises, including climate change.

      Mankind faces its biggest challenge ever: climate change. For the commission it’s business as usual. Give multinationals their own court and keep the social and environmental impacts out of sight.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Austria’s new president calls for a tolerant nation and united Europe

      Austria’s new president has called for a tolerant and diverse nation, free of ideological and racial hatred, in an inauguration speech on Thursday that embraced the ideal of a united Europe.

      Alexander Van der Bellen outlined a markedly different vision from that offered during campaigning by his rightwing rival Norbert Hofer, the populist he defeated last month after an unprecedented repeat vote.

      Hofer had campaigned on a law and order platform in line with his Freedom Party’s (FPÖ) opposition to Muslim immigration, focus on Austrians first and depiction of the EU as an out-of-touch institution damaging the sovereignty of national states.

    • More facts, fewer pundits: Here’s how the media can regain the public’s trust

      No, journalism is far from dead — as anybody who has followed the investigative reporting of The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, for one, can attest — but it sure has taken a number of body blows. And some are self-inflicted.

      One of the worst: the sharp drop in public trust. Now, with a media-bashing president presenting a threat to press freedom, we need to get it back.

    • COUP: Under cover of #muslimban, Bannon throws top general and spy off the National Security Council and installs himself in their stead

      While the American public’s attention was focused on the thousands of families whose lives were disrupted and even put at risk by Trump’s ban on Muslims entering the USA, the US Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were removed from the list of permanent attendees in the President’s National Security Council. They were replaced with white nationalist Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

      Trump announced the changes shortly after speaking with Putin for an hour.

      Presidential press spokesman Sean Spicer downplayed Bannon’s lack of expertise, describing the avowed racist as “a former naval officer.” Bannon left the Navy in 1983. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whom Bannon is replacing, is an active-service four-star general.

    • Trump’s Information Wars

      Last Monday, according to the Times, President Donald Trump, meeting in the White House with congressional leaders, told a story about voting fraud that he had supposedly heard from Bernhard Langer, the German professional golfer. (Langer soon issued a statement repudiating Trump’s account.) Throughout the week, the President repeated his calumny that he lost the popular vote only because millions of “illegals” voted for Hillary Clinton. Trump’s obsession with this subject may arise from his pathological need to tally every score in his own favor, but he surely knows that his propaganda also advances the Republican Party’s efforts to extend barriers to legitimate voting by Latinos and African-Americans, through voter-I.D. requirements and other state laws. Diverse studies have turned up no evidence of significant fraud in recent elections. On Wednesday, Trump nonetheless vowed to sign an executive order commissioning a federal investigation.

      The major news organizations are still reckoning with how to report on the President’s lies. Many newspapers and networks now forthrightly point out false statements by Trump and his spokespeople. Such fact checking is essential, but it is also a task of the President’s making, one full of traps. Trump and his aides provoke conflict with the media to fire up supporters and renew the narrative of a people’s champion at war with the bicoastal establishment.

    • Uber customers lash out at ride sharing service amid anti-travel ban protests

      Uber found itself at the center of a storm created by the travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump’s executive order, as angry customers accused the company of attempting to profit from a taxi driver work stoppage.

      In response to a growing controversy, Uber announced it would create a $3 million defense fund to help cover the legal expenses associated with the executive order. It was unclear, however, if the move would be sufficient to quell the firestorm surrounding one of Silicon Valley’s darlings and a fixture in countless mobile devices.

    • Furious customers are deleting the Uber app after drivers went to JFK airport during a protest and strike

      Thousands of Uber customers are deleting the app and posting the evidence to social media after drivers tried to do business at JFK airport during a taxi strike.

      The NY Taxi Workers Alliance called for all drivers to avoid JFK Airport on Saturday in order to facilitate protests against President Donald Trump’s executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.

    • Uber pushes back on Trump’s order after #DeleteUber starts trending

      Uber pushed back against President Trump’s immigration ban, after taking serious heat on social media for its initial response.

      CEO Travis Kalanick tweeted Sunday afternoon that Trump’s travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries “is against everything Uber stands for.” He said the ban affects thousands of Uber drivers.

    • Recommended Reading: Is Mark Zuckerberg going to run for president?

      Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is making his way around the US after promising to meet with people in each state before the end of the year. This nationwide tour has a very similar feel to that of someone who’s running for office. So, is Zuck going to throw his hat in the ring for 2020? Maybe not, but there are some interesting signs he might make a run.

    • US embassy contradicts British government claim that ‘Muslim ban’ doesn’t apply to UK citizens

      The US embassy has appeared to contradict the Government’s claim that British citizens will be mostly exempt from Donald Trump’s travel ban on Muslim majority countries.

      Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Sunday night that he had received assurances from the US that the “Muslim ban” would only apply to UK dual nationals travelling from the listed countries to the US.

    • As long as you fight back

      If you are a US citizen and want to do something similar, here are some links to where you can find who represents you in the Senate and the House. (Note that to find your House representative, you need to enter your address or your extended 5+4 zip code, because of congressional district gerrymandering. Both of your state’s senators represent the whole state at large, so contact both of them.)

    • The Guardian view on Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim orders: not in our name

      Donald Trump has been president of the United States for 10 days. Many were prepared to give Mr Trump a chance. But even they must conclude he has been in office 10 days too long. Americans did a dreadful thing by electing Mr Trump. But the reality of it is only beginning to hit home. It is not his words that matter, awful though they are on subjects such as torture, but his actions. These raise urgent questions about whether America can afford to have such a president governing in such a way for four years — and how things may realistically change.

    • Theresa May’s Disgraceful Cowardice Has Let Britain Down – Join Us In Standing Up To Trump’s Tyranny

      Later today I will be joining thousands of people at a demonstration outside of Parliament.

      On this cold, grey night we will stand together in solidarity with Muslims across the world who are bearing the brunt of Trump’s bigotry. We will condemn the British Government’s appallingly meek response to the US president’s barbarism. And we will demand something better.

      Let’s be clear about what is happening right now, and Britain’s role in it. A US President is banning people coming to his country because of their religion. Those fleeing persecution and violence – often because of conflicts the West has been involved in – are being denied a safe haven. The world’s greatest power is gripped by the politics of fear and division – and risks sliding into an even darker place.

    • Theresa May told a US refugee ban was coming

      Team Trump told Theresa May when she was in the White House that they were about to ban refugees from coming to the US, using an Executive Order. The US administration team don’t appear to have gone into detail about what exactly they planned for dual nationals. It’s not clear whether they listed Muslim countries from which visitors would be banned.

      What is clear is that there was enough of a sniff of a major switch in US policy flagged up in the White House to suggest you really ought to have an opinion on it.

    • Trump travel ban: Thousands join protests across UK

      Thousands of people have joined protests in London and in cities around the UK against a controversial travel ban on seven mainly Muslim countries imposed by US President Donald Trump.

      The ban bars citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

      MPs are holding an emergency debate on the immigration measures.

      A petition calling for Prime Minister Theresa May to cancel Mr Trump’s planned state visit to the UK has been signed more than 1.4 million times.

    • From Realignment to Reinforcement

      Leftists looking to take over the Democratic Party will confront even more roadblocks than in the past.

      [...]

      Reforming, realigning, or refashioning the Democratic Party into a vehicle for social democracy is one of the oldest, oft-repeated, and frustratingly unsuccessful strategies of the US left.

      The Populists tried it in the 1890s, only to be absorbed and disarmed. The new industrial unions of the CIO attempted it beginning in 1936, just as the New Deal began to retreat. The Democratic Socialists, led by Michael Harrington, pursued the realignment strategy in the 1970s at the very moment the “party of the people” began its trek to the neoliberal right. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition launched two highly visible runs for the Democratic presidential nomination in the 1980s even as Democratic National Committee (DNC) chief Charles Manatt recruited big business and its money. Then came Bill Clinton.

      Could it be different this time around?

    • Trump, Breitbart, and the Rejection of Multicultural Democracy

      Amid reports that Trump elevated his chief strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council, who also had a hand in his executive orders banning immigration from several Muslim countries and refugees, I wanted to share some analysis of Breitbart, the right wing nationalist site he headed for a number of years.

      The point is to engage with the ideas of the movement behind the president, because this is not simply narcissistic and erratic behavior.

      Over the past month I spent some time doing close readings of Breitbart articles published during and after the campaign, and came away with an over-arching conclusion: for Bannon and Trump’s core group of supporters, the president’s victory was a rejection of multiculturalism, cosmopolitanism, and globalization and the triumph of white, Christian populist nationalism.

      Trump’s executive orders should be interpreted as the outgrowth of a coherent ideological framework and set of ideas about American democracy.

    • Who Hasn’t Trump Banned? People From Places Where He’s Done Business

      President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries is being rightly challenged in the courts for, among other things, its unconstitutional interference with free exercise of religion and denial of due process. Overlooked in the furor is another troubling aspect of the situation: President Trump omitted from his ban a number of other predominantly Muslim nations where his company has done business. This adds further illegitimacy to one of the most arbitrary executive actions in our recent history, and raises significant constitutional questions.

      The seven countries whose citizens are subject to the ban are relatively poor. Some, such as Syria, are torn by civil war; others are only now emerging from war. One thing these countries have in common is that they are places where the Trump organization does little to no business.

      By contrast, other neighboring Muslim countries are not on the list, even though some of their citizens pose just as great a risk — if not greater — of exporting terrorism to the United States. Among them are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. A vast majority of people living in these countries, like the people living in the seven subject to the immigration ban, are peaceful and law abiding. But these three countries have exported terror to the United States in the past. They accounted for 18 of the 19 terrorists who perpetrated the Sept. 11 attack on American soil (an attack which was directed by another Saudi, Osama Bin Laden, with the assistance of an Egyptian, Ayman al-Zawahri).

    • Sorry, Mr. President: The Obama Administration Did Nothing Similar to Your Immigration Ban

      There are so many reasons to detest the Donald Trump administration’s executive order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” that it’s hard to know where to start.

      Others have already argued eloquently about its cruelty in singling out the most vulnerable in society; its strategic folly in insulting countries and individuals the United States needs to help it fight terrorism (the ostensible purpose of the order in the first place); its cynical incoherence in using the September 11 attacks as a rationale and then exempting the attackers’ countries of origin; its ham-handed implementation and ever-shifting explanations for how, and to whom, it applies; and, thankfully, its legal vulnerability on a slew of soon-to-be-litigated grounds, including that it may violate the Establishment and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

    • Trump’s Immigration Crackdown Will Backfire

      Government failures come in two basic forms. The first kind is not achieving the intended result—say job training that leads to no jobs or a Marine recruiting campaign that gets few takers. The second kind is doing damage that wouldn’t have been done otherwise. It’s roughly the difference between a cigar that fails to light and one that explodes.

    • Our Humanity

      Over the last few months, we’ve had a very, very small, but still vocal group of folks in our comments who have gotten angry every time we’ve been critical of Donald Trump — even when we were making nearly identical complaints about him as we did about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. That group of people probably won’t like this post very much, though I do hope they’ll read it with open minds. We’re not a political blog. We cover technology and innovation, as well as the legal, economic and policy issues related to those things. Over the years, that’s included issues related to civil liberties and civil rights. We don’t see these things as being separate. They are all connected and intertwined. We’ve even spent plenty of time discussing immigration, though focusing on high tech and entrepreneur immigration.

      But I don’t think there’s any need for me to try to justify why I’m making this post on Techdirt today. This is about humanity. And if you want to complain in the comments that you don’t want to read this on a “tech” site, well, then maybe take a second and think about what this says about you. Basically my entire family came to America between around 1890 and 1920 — most of them escaping religious persecution elsewhere. My great grandmother had to hide in the bottom of a boat to escape from where she lived. Many came through Ellis Island, and were welcomed into America. My grandfathers built up businesses here. One fought bravely against Nazis (literally) in World War II for the US in Europe and North Africa, and came back to the US and built a company that (among other things) was a huge supplier for the Boy Scouts of America. While they may have struggled at times, my family came to America and was embraced by America, thrived in America and has always loved America. My wife is an immigrant. Her family moved here when she was young to give her and her siblings a better life. And that’s what they found. America embraced them and they embraced America back. They’re all US citizens.

      All weekend long, I’ve been reading all sorts of accounts about President Trump’s executive order. Some of it has been thoughtful. Some of it has been hysterical. Some of it has been painful. Some of it has been ridiculous.

      But it all comes back to one thing: this is about our humanity.

      The “excuses” that some have been spewing for the executive order make no sense. They say this is about “safety,” yet there is no evidence that the people being kept out were a risk to our safety. As many have noted, not a single terrorist attack has come from people from those countries. They say this is about “extreme vetting” but ignore that refugees already go through a ridiculously long and thorough “extreme vetting” process that can take years. They say that this is just an “inconvenience” to a “small group” of people, ignoring that they are basically upending the lives of entire families — families including those with permanent resident status, who have been valuable, contributing members to our country for years and years and years.

      This is madness.

    • National Security Council Changes Are Very Significant, Hayden Says

      Rachel Martin talks to ex-NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden about the reorganization of the White House National Security Council. Political adviser Steve Bannon has a permanent seat at the table.

    • Trump’s Immigration Order Could Affect Thousands Of College Students

      When President Trump signed an executive order Friday temporarily preventing citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S., a group of nonimmigrants was swept up in the ensuing chaos over who the ban would apply to: college students. Two undergraduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where spring semester classes don’t begin until next week, are among those who have been prevented from entering the U.S, according to the university. Although a federal court order from Massachusetts appears to allow the students temporary entry to the U.S., at the time of publication, MIT said it was still working to bring the two students back.

    • More than 100 former officials sign letter opposing Trump’s executive order

      Over 100 former officials who served under past presidents of both parties signed a letter calling on the current heads of multiple government agencies to urge President Donald Trump to “revisit and rescind” his recent executive order on immigration and refugees.

      The signatories wrote that a “blanket ban” on visitors from certain countries is “counterproductive from a security standpoint, and beneath the dignity of our great nation.”

      Signatories include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who served in President Bill Clinton’s administration, and President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice. Richard Clarke, who served in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush, also signed the document.

      The letter, obtained by Politico, is addressed to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, acting Attorney General Sally Yates, and acting Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.

    • After Trump Deemed China Foreign Enemy, Anti-Asian Hate Crimes In LA Surged: Expert

      An alarming uptick in hate crimes against Asian-Americans has led one nonprofit to take action.

      Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), a civil and human rights nonprofit, recently launched StandAgainstHatred.org, a website to track Anti-Asian hate crimes.

      The group felt compelled to do so after not only seeing a disturbing amount of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant crimes, but also a huge jump in anti-Chinese hate as well. And the rise of this violence towards Asian-Americans is something the group wants to call attention to, stating that awareness is lacking.

    • The Dark History of the White House Aides Who Crafted Trump’s “Muslim Ban”

      The Trump administration has insisted since Sunday that the president’s executive order banning travel to the United States from seven predominately Islamic countries “is not a Muslim ban.” But as Mother Jones first reported in a series of investigations starting last summer, the two top Trump advisers who reportedly crafted the immigration crackdown—Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller—have a long history of promoting Islamophobia, courting anti-Muslim extremists, and boosting white nationalists.

      For nearly a year before stepping down as the CEO of Breitbart News to lead the Trump campaign, Bannon hosted a SiriusXM radio show, Breitbart News Daily, where he conducted dozens of interviews with leading anti-Muslim extremists. Steeped in unfounded claims and conspiracy theories, the interviews paint a dark and paranoid picture of America’s 3.3 million Muslims and the world’s second-largest faith. Bannon often bookended the exchanges with full-throated praise for his guests, describing them as “top experts” and urging his listeners to click on their websites and support them.

    • Obama science adviser: Trump immigration ban ‘an abomination’

      Former White House science adviser John Holdren has condemned US President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily ban all refugees and citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.

      Holdren, who served eight years under President Barack Obama, told Nature on 30 January that the ban is “perverse” and “an abomination, and a terrible, terrible idea”. The executive order enacted on 27 January will not increase the country’s security, he adds, and may damage it by sending an offensive message to Muslims, who make up a quarter of the world population.

      “If the ban is maintained, it will damage a wide array of collaborations in science and technology around the world,” says Holdren, who led the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2009 until earlier this month. “A more prosperous world is a more stable world, and it’s clear that innovations in science and technology drive economic growth.”

    • Acting Attorney General Orders Justice Dept. Not to Defend Refugee Ban

      “I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Ms. Yates wrote in a letter to Justice Department lawyers. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

      The decision is largely symbolic — Mr. Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is likely to be confirmed soon — but it highlights the deep divide at the Justice Department and elsewhere in the government over Mr. Trump’s order.

    • Schwarzenegger rips Trump for immigrant ban

      Escalating a running feud with Donald Trump, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday criticized the president’s order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, calling aspects of its implementation “crazy.”

      “I think that the real problem is that it was vetted badly,” Schwarzenegger, a Republican and immigrant from Austria, told Extra. “I know what he’s trying to accomplish, and his fear about having people come in from other places and cause harm to the country and all of that stuff. But there is another way of going about it to do it the right way and to accomplish still all the same goals. And so I think that they were hasty with it.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Former NSA lawyer says US border plans to demand tourists’ browser history, phone data would be unlawful

      A former senior lawyer for the National Security Agency has called plans to force visitors to the US to turn over contacts lists, browsing histories, and social media data “tremendously intrusive” and “grossly overbroad.”

      April Doss, former associate general counsel for intelligence law at the National Security Agency, argued in a phone call that such a move would almost certainly be unlawful.

    • Former National Security Lawyer: Asking Tourists To Share Browsing And Contact Data ‘Tremendously Intrusive’

      A former senior lawyer for the National Security Agency (NSA) described the Trump administration’s proposal to begin demanding to review the browsing and contact data stored on the mobile phones of people visiting the United States as “tremendously intrusive” and “grossly overbroad,” as well as probably unlawful.

    • NSA Cites New ‘Security Concerns’ In Preemptive Refusal To Even Search For Contractor Documents

      We’ve become accustomed to the NSA’s infamous Glomar responses. The agency is fond of telling FOIA requesters that it’s not saying it has the sought-after documents on hand, but it’s also not not saying that either. It’s the public records Schrödinger’s box, where requested documents lie in a dual state of existence and nonexistence, supposedly because any hint either way would rend the national security fabric in twain.

      Brendan O’Connor of Gizmodo reports that a January 17th response to his FOIA request contains some new additions to the NSA’s usual Glomar.

    • Already Under Attack In Top EU Court, Privacy Shield Framework For Transatlantic Data Flows Further Undermined By Trump

      A year ago, Techdirt wrote about the melodramatically-named “Privacy Shield.” Under EU data protection laws, the transfer of EU citizens’ personal data is only legal if the destination country meets certain basic conditions for data protection. Signing up to Privacy Shield is designed to allow US companies to meet that requirement. The earlier framework, called “Safe Harbor,” was thrown out by the EU’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), largely because of NSA spying on data flows. Privacy Shield was hurriedly cobbled together because, without it, the vast flows of data across the Atlantic that occur all the time would be much harder to square with EU laws.

      However, since the NSA has not stopped spying on data flows, some in the EU feel that Privacy Shield offers as little protection for personal data as Safe Harbor. This led the Irish civil liberties group Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) last October to ask the EU’s General Court — one of the more obscure courts of the CJEU — to annul the Privacy Shield framework, arguing that it too lacks adequate privacy protections.

    • Ex-cop: it’s “bizarre” if we can’t explain to public what our snooping gear does

      So much of what we’re going to be doing with the Privacy Commission is policy. At the end of the day, like with a stingray, Hailstorm, cell-site simulator stuff, it’s going to be developing a policy that works for the Privacy Commission, and the City of Oakland as a community and the Oakland Police Department as an organization. That’s how I got involved.

      What happened early on with the stingray, as an example, is that it became pretty abundant that one of the big outcomes was going to be a policy. And just so you’re familiar, there was legislation that was passed.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Donald Trump’s shameful ban on Muslims and refugees

      Amid the outcry against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban on seven Muslim countries (US refugee ban: Trump decried for ‘stomping on’ American values, theguardian.com, 28 January), typically no mention is being made of the fact that the United States is a major participant in the terrible wars in five of them: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. As such, potent issues of religious discrimination and humanitarianism aside, the US has a major responsibility to ameliorate the effects of the wars on civilians by taking in refugees from those countries, obviously with careful vetting of each applicant. It is also interesting that Saudi Arabia, the source of much Islamist extremism, is not included in the list of “banned” countries.

    • Australia will support Donald Trump on strong border protection policies: Julie Bishop

      Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the Turnbull government will support Donald Trump’s “strong immigration and border protection policies”, as the leaders of Britain and Germany criticise an executive order banning entry to the United States for refugees and citizens from a range of majority Muslim countries.

    • We Won: ACLU Wins Stay On Refugee Ban

      An Obama-appointed federal judge in Brooklyn granted a temporary, emergency, national stay Saturday evening blocking Trump’s grotesque effort to ban Muslim refugees after the American Civil Liberties Union – God love ‘em – filed a class action lawsuit amidst widespread outrage and massive airport protests. While the order stems from the case of two Iraqis detained at JFK Airport, it will be applied nationally to up to 200 people already detained and any more visa-holders arriving in the U.S.; those still abroad will remain in legal limbo until a Feb. 21 hearing. With immigration lawyers still admirably flocking to airports to offer help, the ACLU announced the victory on Twitter with the concise, “We won.” From one supporter – and, implicitly, millions of us – “You are heroes.” Live video from the ACLU and others outside the court, with more details to come on what remains a developing story.

    • White House discussing asking foreign visitors for social media info and cell phone contacts

      Amid the chaos and confusion of President Donald Trump’s new executive order on immigration and refugees, sources tell CNN that White House policy director Stephen Miller spoke with officials of the State Department, Customs and Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security and others to tell them that the President is deeply committed to the executive order and the public is firmly behind it — urging them not to get distracted by what he described as hysterical voices on TV.

    • Red Hat, IBM, other tech giants express alarm over Trump immigration order

      IBM, Red Hat, Google, Apple and other tech giants expressed dismay over an executive order on immigration from President Donald Trump that bars nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.

      Raleigh-based Red Hat, which has operations around the world, noted that the company is “looking carefully” at the order and added: “From what we see so far, we are concerned that the changes are inconsistent with Red Hat’s values, including diversity.”

      Red Hat, which was among the biggest opponents of North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill” HB2, pointed out that the company “is strong because of the thousands of diverse voices that comprise our company. Our continued work to advance the technology industry depends greatly on our ability to attract the best and brightest talent from around the world.”

    • Corporate America Is Inching Even Closer to a Constitutional Convention

      During a Colorado Springs rally on Oct. 18, 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump announced, “The time for congressional term limits has finally arrived.” For many, it was one of Trump’s more moderate proclamations. Term limits don’t sound like such a bad idea.

      But it’s possible this comment signaled support for a broader, more partisan agenda. Term limits are a central demand for a growing movement of states-rights activists focused on weakening the federal government—and they are dangerously close to convening the first state constitutional convention in U.S. history.

      [...]

      If the convention gets triggered, state legislators from across the country will convene to propose amendments, which would then need ratification by three-fourths (38) of the states, either through the state legislatures, with governors having power to break a tie, or through state ratification conventions.

    • Denver police to protesters: ‘Stop doing anything that could be construed as free speech’

      Protesters at the Denver airport over the weekend were told by police that it was illegal to exercise “free speech without a permit.”

      Denverite reported that over 200 people gathered at the Denver International Airport on Friday to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.

      In video posted to YouTube, Police Commander Tony Lopez can be seen advising demonstrators that they are in violation of the law.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Ding Dong: Silly Six Strikes Copyright Infringement Scheme Is Dead

        The pointless “six strikes” plan — a hilarious “voluntary agreement” between some big ISPs and the MPAA & RIAA is no more. It’s dead. It never should have lived, and of course, the MPAA is now blaming everyone but itself for the failure — and we’ll get to that. But first, some background.

        As you may remember, back in 2011, after significant direct pressure from the White House, many of the big ISPs and the MPAA & RIAA came to a (ha ha) “voluntary” agreement on a six strikes program to deal with “repeat infringers.” There was a lot of history behind this, which we won’t rehash, but the shorter version is that, for many years, the MPAA & RIAA have stupidly believed that if you could kick people off the internet (completely) if they’re caught infringing three times, that would magically make piracy go away. They got a “three strikes” law passed in a few countries, starting with France. It was a complete disaster, as basically everyone who wasn’t from the MPAA and RIAA predicted.

        In the US, it became clear that there wasn’t the political appetite to push through a three strikes law, so instead parts of the government, starting with the White House, started putting tremendous pressure on ISPs to work out a deal. The negotiations took a very, very long time. There were lots of rumors about them and then radio silence — until the “six strikes” deal was announced. The “compromise” was that (1) it was six strikes instead of three and (2) after six strikes… nothing happened. The key aspect of the three strikes plans the legacy entertainment industry had pushed was that you lose your internet connection. But the ISPs, rightfully, considered that a complete dealbreaker and basically refused any deal with a cut off.

      • ‘Nerd Judge’ Questions Evidence in KickassTorrents Case

Everything Benoît Battistelli Does Without Staff Consultation is Without Merit, More So Amid Union-Busting Catastrophe

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The European Patent Organisation has truly become a “swamp” without any accountability or adherence to rules

The EPO swamp

Summary: By attacking union leaders, many of whom are also staff representatives, Battistelli discredits if not invalidates everything he has done, an old ruling from the International Labour Organisation serves to show

THERE was a lot of discussion recently, including over the weekend, about the lack of legality of what EPO management tries doing to staff. There is no concept of justice at the EPO, except in theory, as Battistelli is crushing the union and thus staff representation. Going several decades back, we find precedence, too. Decisions where statutory consultation hasn’t properly taken place are quashed, for example, such as in this ILOAT judgement.

We have highlighted few key items in the full decision, which is almost 5 pages in length.

SEVENTIETH SESSION
In re HOFMANN (No. 2)

Judgment 1062

THE ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL,

Considering the second complaint filed by Mr. Dieter Gerhard Hofmann against the European Patent Organisation (EPO) on 18 December 1989, the EPO’s reply of 5 March 1990, the complainant’s rejoinder of 10 May and the Organisation’s surrejoinder of 30 July 1990;

Considering Article II, paragraph 5, of the Statute of the Tribunal and Articles 38, 84 and 107 of the Service Regulations of the European Patent Office, the secretariat of the EPO;

Having examined the written evidence and decided not to order oral proceedings, which neither party has applied for;

Considering that the facts of the case and the pleadings may be summed up as follows:

A. The EPO has concluded with insurance brokers, van Breda and Company International, on behalf of several insurance companies a “collective insurance contract” for the protection of staff. Title II of the contract covers “Death and total permanent invalidity insurance” and applies to staff who qualify under the EPO Service Regulations.

Article 84(1) of the Regulations reads:

“The benefits payable shall be as follows:

(b) in the event of death of the permanent employee or permanent invalidity totally preventing him from performing duties corresponding to his level of employment in the Office: a lump sum equal to 2.75 times his annual basic salary …”;

and 84(4):

“One third of the contribution, calculated by reference to the basic salary of the permanent employee, which is required to meet the insurance of the risks under paragraph 1b) shall be charged to the employee, but so that the amount charged to him shall not exceed O.6% of his basic salary.”

The monthly premium is set in the collective insurance contract, and every five years the EPO reviews the amount with van Breda. It did so late in 1987.

The complainant, who was born in 1949, is a permanent employee of the EPO. Up to the end of 1987 his contribution came to 0.1881 per cent of basic salary. Thus his pay slip for December 1987 showed an amount of 7,053 Deutschmarks as basic salary and a deduction of 13.27 Deutschmarks therefrom as his contribution to the premium for death and invalidity insurance for that month.

By circular 163 of 20 January 1988 the Personnel Department of the Office informed the staff that the premiums were put up as from 1 January 1988 because of a rise in the number of successful claims in the last few years. For any permanent employee below the age of 55, like the complainant, death insurance was thenceforth to cost 0.374 per cent and invalidity insurance 0.0638 per cent of basic salary, a total of 0.4378 as against the 0.1881. The complainant’s pay slip for January 1988, which he got on the 26th, showed a deduction of 30.88 Deutschmarks as his one-third contribution to the premiums.

On 18 April 1988 he lodged an internal appeal under Article 107 of the Service Regulations against the increase on the grounds that the EPO had failed to consult the General Advisory Committee (GAC), a body comprisingrepresentatives of both staff and management, as Article 38(3) of the Regulations required. That provision says that
the Committee shall “be responsible for giving a reasoned opinion on” any proposed amendment to the Regulations or implementing rules “and, in general, except in cases of obvious urgency, any proposal which concerns the whole or part of the staff …”. Over 450 other staff members lodged similar appeals at about the same time.

In its report of 23 May 1989 on the complainant’s and the other appeals the internal Appeals Committee, holding that the EPO had acted in breach of 38(3), recommended levying contributions at the old rates until the President had got the GAC’s opinion and refunding the amounts overpaid with interest at the rate of 8 per cent a year from 1 January 1988. But by a communiqué of 4 October 1989, the impugned decision, the Personnel Department announced that the President of the Office had rejected the appeals.

B. The complainant submits that the increase in premiums and therefore the impugned decision were unlawful: Article 38(3) applied, it was not complied with, and there was no “obvious urgency” warranting an exception. Not until the GAC held its 63rd meeting on 3 December 1987 in West Berlin did it hear of the EPO’s intention to put the premiums up. A staff representative at once objected to the lack of consultation, but the GAC was unable to give a “reasoned opinion” by 1 January 1988 since it did not have full information, the subject was complex, and the Christmas break was near. It was wholly the EPO’s fault that no consultation took place. It had known for five years that the insurance contract would have to be renewed by the end of 1987 since clause 2 said so. The duty laid down in 38(3) is all the stricter because it has authority to increase the financial burden on its staff by varying the terms of the collective contract: 38(3) is the only safeguard the staff have. Proper explanation and discussion of the big increase in premiums were called for. Judgment 744 (in re Snell) affords a precedent for enforcing such a requirement.

The complainant asks the Tribunal to set aside the decision to increase his contributions, order that they be restored to the figure of 0.1881 per cent of basic salary and that he be paid the amounts wrongfully deducted since 1 January 1988 plus interest at the rate of 10 per cent thereon, and award him 2,000 Deutschmarks in costs.

C. The EPO submits that the complaint is unfounded. It points out that it had not yet signed with van Breda the codicil to the contract embodying the new provisions when it informed the GAC of the increase at its meeting on 3 December 1987. It then told the members of the GAC that it was ready to discuss the matter and to put full information at their disposal. It did not sign the codicil until 19 April 1988. The GAC might, if so minded, have given an opinion on the outcome of the negotiations, and the staff representatives might have asked it to meet for the purpose before the end of the year.

Negotiations are not worth starting until late in the year, when the brokers have the most recent data available for the purpose of reckoning new premiums. Yet there was an urgent need to reach agreement on the new rates since they were to come into effect at 1 January 1988 and it was undesirable to apply them retroactively. The staff representatives never asked for the further information offered. The President put the matter on the agenda of the GAC’s meeting on 13 April 1988 – a week before the codicil was signed – and the Committee then discussed it, but again the staff representatives apparently did not think it worth carrying further.

The GAC was asked in November 1988 whether it wanted to state an opinion on the subject and it declined to do so. It then reaffirmed an earlier practice of delegating its supervisory function by appointing a staff representative and a management representative to follow the negotiations with the brokers on the matter of premiums for medical insurance. Having had no reason to believe that it wished to depart from that practice, the President cannot be taken to task for not seeking the GAC’s opinion on the matter of death and invalidity insurance.

D. In his rejoinder the complainant asks what the legal basis can have been for charging the staff higher rates of contribution from January to March 1988 when the EPO did not sign the codicil until 19 April 1988. It is specious to argue that the Administration was willing to discuss the matter. What it told the GAC on 3 December 1987 merely shows up its awareness of its failure up to then to enable the GAC to give a reasoned opinion. Since there was no time thereafter for the GAC to consider the matter properly before the new rates came in, the offer of information and discussion was pointless.

The matter was not urgent: the EPO did not even put it on the agenda of the GAC’s December 1987 meeting, and the President did not exercise his discretion under 38(5) to set a time limit for the GAC’s opinion.

The fact that in earlier years the GAC, with the staff representatives’ consent, delegated the task of overseeing thereview of medical insurance premiums just means that the staff representatives took a flexible approach to that rather complex matter. Such delegation did not apply to death and invalidity insurance. Had the GAC been told in time that the clauses of the contract on such insurance were to be altered it might have taken the same approach. It neither expressly nor by implication waived its right to be consulted. To bring it in only when the decision could no longer be changed was a travesty of consultation.

E. In its surrejoinder the EPO submits that the complainant’s rejoinder in no way weakens the force of the arguments in its reply. It maintains that there was an established practice, which the complainant does not dispute, of delegation of its supervisory function by the GAC. There is no reason not to apply the same procedure to insurance of the risks of death and invalidity as to medical insurance. In both cases the premiums are similarly reckoned. The staff representatives on the Committee were not diligent in seeking information. Since they knew that the time had come to revise the premiums they could have taken the initiative and asked the Committee to take up the matter.

CONSIDERATIONS:

1. The EPO is party to a collective insurance contract with a consortium of six insurance companies, administration of the contract being delegated to a firm of insurance brokers, van Breda and Company International, who are responsible for negotiating the terms of renewal of the contract. Under Article 84(4) of the Service Regulations the employee shall pay one-third of the contribution required to meet the costs of insurance against death and total permanent invalidity, provided that the amount shall not exceed 0.6 per cent of basic salary.

In January 1988 the EPO decided to increase the rates of contribution by its staff in the period from 1 January 1988 to 31 December 1992 to the cost of insurance of risks under those heads. The present challenge to that increase rests on the alleged failure by the EPO to follow the procedure for consultation set out in the Service Regulations.

The procedure for consultation

2. Article 38 of the Regulations establishes joint committees for the Office comprising a General Advisory Committee and local advisory committees. Article 38(3) reads:

“The General Advisory Committee shall, in addition to the specific tasks given to it by the Service Regulations, be responsible for giving a reasoned opinion on:

- any proposal to amend these Service Regulations or the Pension Scheme Regulations, any proposal to make implementing rules and, in general, except in cases of obvious urgency, any proposal which concerns the whole or part of the staff to whom these Service Regulations apply …”

Article 38(5) further provides:

“Opinions of the joint committees which are required in respect of administrative decisions must be delivered within the time limits laid down in each case by the President of the Office, such time limits being not less than fifteen working days. Once the time limit has expired, the opinion shall no longer be required.”

The EPO’s reply

3. The Organisation maintains that the absence of an opinion by the General Advisory Committee (GAC) does not make the challenged decision unlawful. It points out that not until 4 December 1987 did it complete negotiations with the brokers about the premiums to take effect at 1 January 1988 and the matter was therefore urgent. It cites the minutes of the GAC’s 63rd meeting on 3 and 4 December 1987, which under the heading “General Information” record that, the GAC had been told that because of an increase in the costs of death and invalidity insurance there would be a substantial increase in the contributions payable by employees and that, if the GAC wished, the Administration would give more details and data about the negotiations.

The President of the Office put the matter on the agenda of the Committee’s 64th meeting, which took place on 13 April 1988, but the Committee gave no opinion. At its 67th meeting, on 24 and 25 November 1988, it agreed to delegate its functions in the matter to a representative of the Administration and a representative of the staff on condition that it should be informed of the outcome of the negotiations.The EPO submits that that was an established practice of the GAC’s and that, in the absence of any decision to the contrary, the Committee intended to dispense with the requirement of giving “a reasoned opinion” on the new rates of contribution.

The Tribunal’s ruling

4. The first issue is whether the decision to increase staff contributions to the costs of death and invalidity insurance was a proposal within the meaning of Article 38(3).

The answer is that it was, because the payment of contributions for such coverage was compulsory and indeed one of the conditions of service.

5. Secondly, did the proposal fall within the exception in Article 38(3) as a “case of obvious urgency”?

It was known that the previous insurance contract would terminate at 31 December 1987, and by 4 December it was clear that there would be an increase in staff contributions. It cannot therefore be properly argued that the increase was unforeseeable. Although the negotiations were not completed until 4 December 1987 the Administration must have been aware before 3 December 1987, the date of the GAC’s meeting, what the brokers were asking for and whether other insurers could offer lower rates. Consultation in the context of Article 38 entails giving the GAC enough information to enable it to come to “a reasoned opinion”. Merely telling it that the Administration would give it more details and provide data on the negotiations if it so wished did not comply with Article 38, which is plainly intended to make for proper consultation between the two sides.

6. As the Organisation admits, though the matter was put on the agenda of the GAC’s meeting on 13 April 1988, the President set no deadline for it to give an opinion. At that meeting a staff representative asked whether copies of the documents setting out the proposals by van Breda and the counter-proposals by the EPO could be made available to the Staff Committee. On 30 August 1988 the Office gave the Staff Committee document GAC/6/88, and the GAC discussed it at its 67th meeting, on 24 and 25 November 1988. The two sides disagreed as to whether an
opinion was necessary and, as was said above, that was when the Committee decided to delegate its function to a representative of the administration and a representative of the staff.

The Article 38 procedure calls for joint consultation: it does not transfer decision-making authority from the Administration to the GAC. The submission of document GAC/6/88 to the Committee and its decision to delegate its function fulfilled the requirements of Article 38, because by 24 November 1988 the GAC was in a position to give a reasoned opinion.

7. In the light of the foregoing the decision to apply the higher rates of contribution to the complainant from 1 January 1988 cannot stand. They did not become properly payable until 26 November 1988. The complainant, who has never disputed liability to pay contributions at the old rates, must be repaid the difference between the amounts reckoned at the old and the new rates for the period from 1 January 1988 to 25 November 1988. But inasmuch as he remained fully covered during that period by insurance against the risks of death and total permanent invalidity the Tribunal will not order the payment of interest.

DECISION:

For the above reasons,

1. The decision to increase the complainant’s contributions to the costs of death and invalidity insurance is quashed from 1 January 1988.
2. The decision is confirmed as from 26 November 1988.
3. The EPO shall pay back to the complainant the amounts wrongfully deducted for the period from 1 January 1988 to 25 November 1988.
4. It shall pay him 2,000 Deutschmarks in costs.

In witness of this judgment by Mr. Jacques Ducoux, President of the Tribunal, Miss Mella Carroll, Judge, and the Right Honourable Sir William Douglas, Deputy Judge, have signed hereunder, as have I, Allan Gardner, Registrar.Delivered in public sitting in Geneva on 29 January 1991.

Jacques Ducoux
Mella Carroll
William Douglas
A.B. Gardner

Updated by PFR. Approved by CC. Last update: 7 July 2000.

Also of relevance to this are ILO Judgment 1291, Judgment 982, and Judgment 1600. We don’t know much about Dieter Gerhard Hofmann (he would be in retirement age by now), but his case remains relevant to this date.

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