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Enemies of Europe: A Month After Promoting UPC in London, Benoît Battistelli and the EPO Do This in Helsinki

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli and his attack dogs can’t help attacking Europeans and undermining EU interests

Dog attack

Summary: The US-leaning corporate occupation by Battistelli and his big corporate clients (or bosses) comes up north, approaching even Russia’s border

Benoît Battistelli and his bodyguards are going places. They’re pushing the UPC into countries that now consider quitting the EU altogether (jeopardising this entire UPC plot as a whole).

If Battistelli had to face actual citizens of Europe, he’d get nothing but rotten tomatoes. He knows that. So he’s finding clever ways to rig the debates, keeping them limited to his own choir, typically behind closed doors (or expensive entrance fees). Here is how to staff/stuff panels like the Administrative Council of the EPO (already staffed/stuffed by NPOs’ heads). Based on publicly available photos and posts, e.g. [1, 2], PATLIB 2016 was staffed/stuffed with NPOs; where’s the balancing factor? The EPO’s own propaganda was soon promoted by the EPO’s PR people, who shed light on Benoît Battistelli’s lobbying for UPC in Finland. To quote their own words (warning: epo.org link, signed by Battistelli in his blog, also promoted by his obedient PR people): “During his visit to Helsinki, the EPO President met Jari Gustafsson, Permanent Secretary of the Finnish Ministry of Economy and Employment, and representatives of major Finnish companies, including Nokia, KONE, Orion, UPN and Beneq. The industry speakers highly praised the quality of the examination work at the EPO and the progress made in the timely processing of their applications.

“The President also gave interviews to Finnish business and technology media. Here the focus was strongly on the unitary patent and on developments in the European patent system.

“In late January, Finland became the 9th country to ratify the Unified Patent Court (UPC) Agreement, which needs 13 ratifications (including France, Germany and the UK) to enter into force. The Finnish and European partners agreed that when the unitary patent arrives – hopefully at the beginning of 2017 – it will bring benefits to Finnish and other European companies, especially SMEs and universities, by offering more choice, enhanced legal certainty and simplified administration.”

The UPC would harm European businesses, including Finnish businesses [1, 2], but the EPO cares not at all about Europe’s interests. Like TTIP, it’s an effort to give large corporations (usually foreign) free reign over Europe. Recall the EPO’s controversial acceptance of patents on plants (vetoed and vigorously opposed by European authorities) and read this new article from Dr. Glyn Moody on the subject. Remember only this: the EPO is not European and it does not care what’s good for Europe. The EPO often promotes policies that directly harm Europe and it’s not an accident or a design flaw.

You Need to Become Proprietary Software Customer (Microsoft Recommended) to Interact with the European Patent Office

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Become a Microsoft client first, then the EPO will be willing to serve you…

Microsoft at EPO

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) continues to show technical and bureaucratic anomalies that have essentially turned it into agent of monopolisation, benefiting firms from across the Atlantic

THE EPO‘s Microsoft favouritism [1, 2, 3] was explored here before and it’s only getting worse the deeper we look. Remember the French CIO who flushes money down the toilet (not literally)? We still wish to see what kind of contract he and/or his colleagues signed with Microsoft (leaks might be imperative). We might never find out, however, for reasons that are explained below:

Financial (de-)regulation

In October Mr Battistelli submitted to the Council a document, CA/38/15, entitled “Periodical review of the Financial Regulations”. As most documents produced by the Battistelli administration it claims to increase efficiency, this time in procurement. And as with most documents produced by the Battistelli administration, its title is misleading: the document proposes the introduction of a new procurement procedure “with negotiation”, as opposed to the normal tender procedure where the requirements are set out and published in advance, i.e. the same and clear (transparent) for all potential competitors. The CA document (point 15) claims to have been “inspired” by the procedure with the same name recently introduced in the EU (Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014). The EU regulation should itself already raise eyebrows because it reduces transparency. But the EPO is taking things several steps further. In the EU the new procedure is meant as an exceptional procedure to be used only in specific defined situations. In the EPO it is meant as a full alternative to the normal open tender mechanism. We refer again to point 15 of CA/38/15 “the new procedure is applicable to all procurements below the threshold without any specific justification.“ The threshold will be one million (!) euro. The EU directive foresees that combinations of smaller lots, the value of which, if added up, reach the threshold, fall under the normal rules. CA/38/15 does not bother with such niceties. The EU directive sets out compliance audit and enforcement measures. None of these are mentioned in CA/38/15. Mere telephone conversations between an examiner and applicant require minutes to be recorded and made public. For the new up-to-one-million-euro negotiations foresee no recording, let alone publication of the negotiations. Last but not least the “efficiency” (apparently 4-6 weeks) foreseen with the new procedure is truly frightening: this hardly leaves the time forthe submission and evaluation of several serious offers. The overall impression is the Mr Battistelli has given himself the power to award direct placements of (over) one million euro at his discretion.

Battistelli’s EPO is worse than a joke. It’s structured and further optimised to mask/hide misconduct. There is no transparency and it’s easy to see why. As the old saying goes, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, right? Well, presumably, Battistelli has a lot to fear.

Meanwhile, judging by this tweet from earlier this week, the EPO’s new Web site is causing issues for Firefox users (proprietary Web browsers of firms from the US work however). How many Free/Open Source software (FOSS) Web browsers remain usable at the EPO then? How many people who work with or for the EPO can even still use any operating system other than Windows, which comes with US back doors and is now officially malware?

Nina Milanov wrote: “I have some problems with your new web site? Don’t you support Firefox any more? IE and Chrome seem to work.”

Well, both IE and Chrome are proprietary and we suppose Milanov uses these on Windows, which is also proprietary. On numerous occasions this year I reported Web site issues (over at Twitter) to the EPO. The whole Web site is a mess and it was built using all sorts of proprietary software, so this should not be surprising (proprietary browser plugins are at times needed).

The EPO supports Microsoft like no other body in Europe, in our humble assessment. It is also hyper-sensitive about bloggers who mention this (enough to threaten them), so we urge EPO staff to leak to us any details they have about the technical relationship, never mind the well-documented nepotism.

US Congress Should Investigate EPO and Battistelli, Not Just WIPO and Francis Gurry

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 7:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO is not really European (US firms rely on it), so it shouldn’t be unthinkable for the US to launch a probe

Francis Gurry
Francis Gurry. Photo source: WIPO

Summary: The US takes more and more actions against WIPO for abuses against workers, but why not the European Patent Office (EPO) as well?

EARLIER this year we mentioned Federal/US scrutiny against WIPO. Why go only as far as WIPO though?

Crucial fact to note here is that both Gurry and Battistelli (two notorious self-righteous sociopaths) competed for the same WIPO post. Members of the US Congress should investigate EPO abuses (it’s not a European body but an international one), but instead they go after WIPO ([1] below). The main difference is that EPO employs European citizens, whereas WIPO employs (and habitually abuses) US citizens, among others.

There is meanwhile a WIPO event in Geneva (Europe) and it is expected to have software patents promotion, as Benjamin Henrion noticed yesterday (Battistelli and his EPO maximalists surely would approve such a move).


  1. Citing “Toxic” Environment, US Congress Members Urge Secretary Kerry To Get UN Report On Gurry

    WIPO Director General Francis Gurry was investigated after charges were levelled by a deputy director that he wrongfully ordered DNA samples to be taken from several unknowing staff members, and that he improperly influenced a WIPO contract to steer it toward a particular businessman. The congressional members said Gurry is “engaging in a lobbying effort to prevent disclosure of the report or to have the report heavily redacted.” Redacted means sections are blacked out.

Amid French Political Actions Against EPO Management French Consulate the Target of Next Week’s EPO Staff Protest

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Largely French management the culprit, so can French politicians correct these ills?

French consulate
French consulate area
As protests grow broader, larger venues required (Consulat Général de France à Munich above)

Summary: Next Wednesday at lunchtime staff of the European Patent Office will march to the French consulate in Munich in pursuit of labour rights, human rights etc. (not just of EPO staff but also, by extension, all staff in such unaccountable international institutions)

YESTERDAY it was announced by the staff union of the EPO that “actions [shall] continue at the European Patent Office” (the usual template), just shortly after French politicians had shown interest in the pleas of this union (we speculate there is a strategic correlation). “On Wednesday 11 May 2016,” unnamed SUEPO officials wrote (it’s highly risky identifying oneself these days), “a demonstration will take place in Munich (Germany) starting from the Kurt Haertel passage at 12.15h and ending at the French consulate.”

We have only found one instance of press coverage about it so far. It came from WIPR this morning and it provided some background as follows:

Staff members at the European Patent Office (EPO) will hold another demonstration next week, a month after nearly 3,000 workers went on strike.

According to the Staff Union of the European Patent Office, the next demo will be held on May 11.

The protest, at the EPO’s Munich branch, will start at Kurt Haertel passage, next to the EPO, at 12.15pm (local time) and end at the French consulate.

Last month, more than 2,600 staff went on strike in what an EPO source claimed was the highest number of strikers the office has seen.

According to the source, 2,078 employees were on strike for the full day, while 579 people went on a half-day strike. The total number of strikers throughout the day stood at 2,657 across the EPO’s four sites.

If thousands of workers are brave enough to go on strike in this climate of fear and intimidation by EPO management, then surely several thousands can gather in front of the French consulate (pictured above).

Links 5/5/2016: gNewSense 4.0 released, IPFire 2.19

Posted in News Roundup at 5:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • The New Kingmakers and the Next Step for Open Source
  • Puppet Rebrands, Launches Numerous New Projects

    Folks who are focused on container technology and virtual machines as they are implemented today might want to give a hat tip to some of the early technologies and platforms that arrived in the same arena. Among those, Puppet, which was built on the legacy of the venerable Cfengine system, was an early platform that helped automate lots of virtual machine implementations. We covered it in depth all the way back in 2008.

    Fast-forward to today, and Puppet Labs is changing its name to mark a new era, and is out with several new product initiatives. The organization, now known as just Puppet, has also named its first president and COO, Sanjay Mirchandani, who comes to the company from VMware, where he was a senior vice-president.

  • Events

    • Tracing Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      After taking a break in 2015, Tracing is back at Plumbers this year! Tracing is heavily used throughout the Linux ecosystem, and provides an essential method for extracting information about the underlying code that is running on the system. Although tracing is simple in concept, effective usage and implementation can be quite involved.

    • Jeremy Sands: Southern Fried College Football and Down-Home Linux

      This is a “Meet the Man Behind the Curtain” interview. It’s more about Sands than about either csnbbs.com or the LinuxFest he spends so much of his time organizing. But at the end of the interview, he talks about how the LinuxFest can always use more volunteers, even if all you can do is woman or man the registration desk for an hour. And sponsors? It’s a pretty healthy operation financially, but more sponsors are always welcome — especially ones from the Southeast, because this conference is proudly regional, not something identical to what you might find in, say, Los Angeles or Washington State.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • A daughter of Silicon Valley shares her ‘nerd’ story

        In the end, I had to leave my job at ISC. Luckily, my work and my values brought me to Mozilla, where I’ve been both perseverant and lucky enough to have several meaningful roles. Today, I’m the senior program manager of diversity and inclusion. I work full-time on building a more diverse and inclusive Mozilla, standing on the shoulders of giants who did the same before me and in partnership with many of the smartest and kindest people I know. I’ve followed my passion for empowering people to find meaningful ways to contribute to the Internet I believe the world needs: an expansion of the one that excited me so long ago. And I get to see a lot of the world while I do it!

      • Waiting for Plugins: The Nylas N1 Email Client

        I wish the Nylas N1 team the best. I love that they took the time to build a Linux client. I love the idea of a hackable email client. But Nylas N1, as it stands now, is very limited. If you happen to like the defaults, you’re in for a treat. But if you’re looking for an email client that bends to your will and that you can easily customize as a non-developer, you’re probably better off with Thunderbird (especially now that people are thinking about its future). Thunderbird isn’t pretty—certainly not as pretty as Nylas N1—but it lets you build it into whatever email client you want it to be.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • CMS

    • Drupal developer on how to make your website more accessible

      For open source developer Mike Gifford, founder and president of OpenConcept Consulting Inc., any mention of Drupal accessibility after his name is redundant. He has spent the better part of 10 years improving and cementing accessibility in Drupal, enough to earn the role of official core accessibility maintainer for the project.

      Accessibility awareness has grown considerably in the Drupal community, but the Internet changes rapidly and the software needs to keep up to remain relevant. Recent press on the trend of decoupling Drupal—including the milestone post by project founder Dries Buytaert himself—tends to skirt the issue that so-called headless configurations can blot out accessibility functions designed for the theme layer.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • DuckDuckGo Gives $225,000 to Open Source Projects

      It appears as if people have been using DuckDuckGo’s privacy centered search enough to make the company successful. Certainly not we-control-the-world successful like Google, but successful enough to give it some cash-on-hand breathing room. Also successful enough for the company to give back to the community by handing out $225,000 to some free and open source projects.

    • DuckDuckGo’s 2016 open source donations

    • No one should have to use proprietary software to communicate with their government

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) submitted a comment to the U.S. Copyright Office calling for a method to submit comments that do not require the use of proprietary JavaScript.

      Proprietary JavaScript is a threat to all users on the Web. When minified, the code can hide all sorts of nasty items, like spyware and other security risks. Savvy users can protect themselves by blocking scripts in their browser, or by installing the LibreJS browser extension and avoiding sites that require proprietary JavaScript in order to function. But some sites are harder to avoid than others. This is particularly the case when the site is required for citizens to communicate or interact with their own government. If no free alternative means are provided, then users can be blocked from participating in the democratic process.

    • H2020 submission is rather ‘anti-open’

      So what’s the EC’s current stand with forcing citizens to use Adobe’s proprietary, closed technology and only Windows or Mac for submission of H2020 projects?

      With Adobe retiring Linux versions of Acrobat a couple of years ago (yes you can still download an obsolete version for Linux from Adobe’s FTP but it won’t work with ECAS “A forms”), this is a very “anti-open” situation.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • It’s Time to Open Source Moving Vehicles

      Open source software has made its mark on desktop computing, mobile phones, and the internet of things. But one area yet to be cracked wide open with freely distributed software is mobility: from autonomous cars, software-assisted driving, to connecting vehicles to other devices.

      On Wednesday, Arthur Taylor, chief technology officer at Advanced Telematic Systems, presented an open-source platform that he hopes will be the start of more innovation in software development for mobility technologies. But he also argued for the merits of open source software in a space pretty much dominated by the closed-off products of large corporates, such as Google and Uber.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Next Phase of Development Begins for The Hovalin, An Open Source 3D Printed Violin

        The Hovalin, developed by Matt and Kaitlyn Hova, is a open source 3D printed violin that has received much attention since the first version was released. Now the next phase of development has begun for the Hovalin 3.0, and Matt Hova has posted a blog entry and started a Reddit thread about the project that always keeps improving in a collaborative effort by many Hovalin fans.

        In the Hovalin website blog post, Hova explains what the most recent plans are for the latest version. First, version 3.0 will “move away from the current carbon fiber rectangle to an 8 mm rod.” Also, a lock will be created that will be used to keep the top and bottom pieces together. Custom brims to prevent warping will be added, as well as possible chin and shoulder rests. Finally, Hova wants to “work out a new system for distributing multiple options for the .stls including files with brim, files without brim, pre-sliced files with supports for the middle piece.” There are many changes in the works here, as you can see from just this list alone.


  • Science

    • The Department Of Education Wants States To Dispel The Model Minority Myth With Better Data

      Asian students often face major barriers to a good quality of education. But the so-called “model minority myth,” which assumes Asian students always excel academically, can prevent them from getting the attention and support they need.

      Asian American Pacific Islander students are a very diverse group — including Chinese, Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Hmong, Guamanian, Chamorro, and Samoan Americans, to name a few — but they are all placed under the umbrella of “Asian,” making it difficult to see how different groups’ graduation rates and academic performance differ.

    • Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery

      Cold War envy and fears did not make the announcement a pleasant one in the United States. First SPUTNIK, now this. “Just tell me how to catch up,” pleaded US President John F. Kennedy. “Let’s find somebody. Anybody. I don’t care if the janitor over there has the answer, if he knows how.” Knowledge moves in baffling ways indeed.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Weed Killer Glyphosate Is Being Found Everywhere—but Will It Hurt Us?

      The herbicide used in Roundup is a probable carcinogen, but it’s uncertain what health risks it presents.

    • Here’s How Flint’s Lead Disaster Is Likely to Affect Its Children
    • Obama fosters hope in Flint, but fears remain
    • Obama drinks to his first Flint visit since lead poisoning crisis

      President Obama’s first visit to Flint, Michigan since declaring a state of emergency was heavy on the optics from the start. Flanked by Flint residents and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Obama worked to restore faith in a city that’s been totally betrayed by local, state, and federal levels of government over its water crisis.

    • Time for Obama to bring Flint water crisis mess to an end

      That is the single word we have for the President when he arrives in Flint.

      President Obama deserves recognition for acknowledging the Flint water crisis before other decision makers would. His words helped push City, State and EPA officials to finally move on the issue. His trip to Flint this week will help keep the issue in the public eye. For that, we thank him.

      But the Flint Water Crisis has been allowed to fester for two years. Enough.

    • What President Obama Needs To Do in Flint

      If the crisis engulfing Flint, Michigan, had occurred in one tragic swoop, had the hard-bitten city been hit with a Superstorm Sandy or a Hurricane Katrina, the president of the United States would not have taken two years to come and personally inspect the damage. He would not have taken two years to hear directly from the victims about their needs, their losses.

      But this was no act of nature wreaking mass destruction. Flint is a different kind of disaster – a totally avoidable, man-made catastrophe created by a state government hell-bent on imposing austerity at any cost.

    • In Flint, Obama Sips the Water that “Corrosive” Austerity Poisoned

      Months after news of the lead crisis broke and years after the water poisoning began, U.S. President Barack Obama visited the embattled city of Flint, Michigan on Wednesday.

      After meeting with state and local officials, hearing from residents, and sipping the (filtered) water, Obama blasted the austerity government that brought about the “man-made disaster” and promised to city residents that he “will not rest until every drop of water that flows to your home is safe to drink.”

    • Obama sips Flint water, urges children be tested for lead

      President Barack Obama sipped filtered water in Flint, Michigan, on Wednesday and assured angry residents that their children would be fine in the long term despite the “complete screw-up” that contaminated their drinking water with lead.

      Obama made the trip to the mostly African-American community to demonstrate that the water there was safe even as he predicted it would take more than two years to replace the city’s aging pipes.

    • Johnson & Johnson hit with $55m damages in talc cancer case

      Pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been ordered to pay more than $55m (£40m) in compensation to an American woman who says its talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer.

      Gloria Ristesund, 62, said she used J&J talc-based powder products on her genitals for decades.

      The company – which faces about 1,200 similar claims – insists its products are safe and says it will appeal.

      Researchers say links with ovarian cancer are unproven.

      In February, Johnson & Johnson paid $72m (£51m) in a similar case.

    • Amid Superbug Scourge, Study Finds 1 in 3 Antibiotic Prescriptions Unnecessary

      New findings published Tuesday shed more light on the rising problem of “superbugs,” or antibiotic-resistant microbes, showing that at least 30 percent of antibiotics prescribed in the United States are unnecessary.

    • Say It, Don’t Spray It

      A cultural divide in farming communities squelches conversation about hot-button issues like pesticides.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Hillary’s Secret Weapon

      Last weekend, Hillary Clinton dispatched her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to offer a defense of her alleged espionage. The espionage allegations against her are that in order to escape public and Obama administration scrutiny, she had all of her emails as secretary of state diverted from a secure government server to a non-secure server in her home in Chappaqua, New York, and, in so doing, failed to protect state secrets in at least 2,200 instances during her four-year tenure.

    • Defense Department Screws Over FOIA Requester Repeatedly, Blames Him For ‘Breaking’ The FOIA Process

      The FOIA system is broken. The administration pays lip service to transparency while aggressively deploying exemptions. Agencies routinely complain about FOIA response budgets and staffing levels, yet no one seems motivated to fix this perennial issue. FOIA reform efforts moving forward with bipartisan support are repeatedly killed after receiving pushback from the White House.

      Then there’s this: a single requester is being blamed for a backlog of FOIA requests at an agency that’s never underfunded — the Department of Defense.

    • How a FOIA Request into Hillary Clinton’s Emails Revealed a Criminal Investigation

      Last weekend, Hillary Clinton dispatched her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to offer a defense of her alleged espionage. The espionage allegations against her are that in order to escape public and Obama administration scrutiny, she had all of her emails as secretary of state diverted from a secure government server to a non-secure server in her home in Chappaqua, New York, and, in so doing, failed to protect state secrets in at least 2,200 instances during her four-year tenure.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • In This Passionate Anti-Fracking Town, Civil Disobedience Just Became Protected Civic Duty

      For one community attempting to stop fracking wastewater injection wells, civil disobedience just became a sanctioned civic right.

      The community is Grant Township, Pa., which, in November 2015, had fought off the Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA), assertion that fossil fuel companies had a ‘right’ to inject wastewater by adopting the country’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights codifying environmental and democratic rights.

    • The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change

      Overall, environmentalists pay little attention to the military, and the anti-war movement does not address the climate. Both squander precious time. At a slow pace, industrialized countries have been “transitioning” to clean energy since the 1960s, without any specified and enforceable time frame. Renewables remain a very small part of the energy mix and will not remedy the carbon-intensive military or industrial agriculture. Transition fuels like natural gas and biofuels have proven to be disastrous to human communities and to the climate. By contrast is the fast pace rapidly rising temperature, accelerating greenhouse gas concentration (due to amplifying feedbacks), increased military spending including nuclear weapons, and new weapons/surveillance/pacification technology.[1] At some point recently, the climate goal shifted from elimination of greenhouse gases to mitigation. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, mitigation means to render more gentle, milder, to appease, mollify, to lessen the stringency of an obligation. Naomi Oreskes identifies a strategy of distraction and delay. The option of enforceable regulation, of steep reduction or elimination of high-emitting economic sectors, remains off the table.

    • 10,000 Filipinos Demand Government ‘Break Free’ from Coal

      An estimated 10,000 people converged in Batangas City, Philippines on Wednesday to demand that the government halt the poisoning of “our land, water, and air” and cancel plans to build as many as 27 coal-fired power plants across the island nation.

    • Oil Industry Facing Collapse that Rivals Tech Bubble Burst

      The bankruptcy wave hitting U.S. fossil fuel companies is evoking comparisons with the dot-com burst more than a decade ago, as the number of oil companies filing for creditor protection hit 59 this week, Reuters reports—a number that’s “closing in on the staggering 68 filings seen during the depths of the telecom bust of 2002 and 2003.”

      As the filings pile up, experts say the industry collapse has not even hit its midway point. Charles Gibbs, a restructuring partner at the Texas-based firm Akin Gump, told Reuters reporters Ernest Scheyder and Terry Wade that he expects to see more bankruptcies in the second fiscal quarter of the year.

    • Exxon ‘Knew Earlier, They Knew With Certainty and They Knew Globally’

      At the same time, David Powell of the New Economics Foundation notes that BP’s annual energy outlook confidently predicts fossil fuels will account for 80 percent of global energy usage in 2035. Powell’s conclusion is that given the speed and depth of the shift required, political will on climate is a prerequisite, and the fossil-fuel industry is banking on politicians not having the chutzpah to do what it takes to keep it in the ground.

    • Donald Trump Thinks Global Warming Is “Bullshit”

      Sen. Ted Cruz dropped out of the presidential race on Tuesday, making it almost certain that Donald Trump will win the GOP nomination and face Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in November. For those who’ve been in denial that this day could ever come, we figured a refresher course on the real estate developer’s musings about climate and energy might be in order.

      On the basic science: “I am not a great believer in man-made climate change,” Trump told the Washington Post editorial board in March. “If you look, they had global cooling in the 1920s and now they have global warming, although now they don’t know if they have global warming.”

    • Mass Evacuation as ‘Apocalyptic’ Inferno Engulfs Canadian Tar Sands City

      A raging wildfire in a Canadian tar sands town has forced tens of thousands of evacuations and destroyed several residential neighborhoods, offering a bleak vision of a fiery future if the fossil fuel era is not brought to an end.

      The blaze in Fort McMurray, Alberta, started over the weekend, doubled in size on Monday, and grew into an inferno on Tuesday. It is expected to worsen on Wednesday as strong wind gusts and record high temperatures persist.

    • Exclusive: Release of Inspection Reports From TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline Expose Risk of Future Spills

      The US government agency responsible for interstate pipelines recorded a catalog of problems with the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline and the Cushing Extension, a DeSmog investigation has found.

      Inspectors at the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) observed TransCanada’s contractors violating construction design codes established to ensure a pipeline’s safety, according to inspection reports released to DeSmog under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

    • Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight

      The world made history last Friday when 175 countries signed the Paris agreement on climate change, the largest number of countries to initial an international agreement on its first day. The next step is for member states to officially join the agreement through their own ratification processes (15 countries did so on that first day). The treaty comes into force when its signatories add up to 55 percent of global carbon emissions. So far, in terms of countries that have pledged to join the agreement, supporters have counted up about 50 percent and expect the threshold to be reached later this year.

      “We are breaking records in this chamber. But records have also been broken outside,” UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon said at the gathering on Friday. “Record global temperatures, record ice loss, record carbon levels in the atmosphere. We are in a race against time. I urge all countries to move quickly to join the agreement at the national level so the Paris Agreement can enter into force as early as possible.”

      Any agreement that attracts nearly universal support will be either watered-down, unwieldy, or both. What insured the Paris agreement’s success is its lack of binding provisions.

    • Donald Trump Says He’ll Bring Back Jobs For Coal Miners But He’s Just Blowing Smoke

      Donald Trump markets himself as a business-savvy billionaire who will get American jobs back from countries like China. In the case of the coal industry, however, he appears to be just a very clueless politician making pro-pollution promises he can’t keep.

      “I’m a free-market guy, but not when you’re getting killed,” he said recently at a rally in Carmel, Indiana. “Look at steel, it’s being wiped out. Your coal industry is wiped out, and China is taking our coal.”

      Huh? “China is taking our coal”? If China were taking much of our coal (in the form of U.S. exports) that would be great for coal jobs.

    • The Energy Revolution Is Actually Happening Right Now

      The solar boom has been driven largely by individuals and companies (we’re looking at you, Apple and Google) who want to use clean, renewable energy. They are getting the message that solar is better for the planet — but it’s also proven to be a savvy investment. Through policies that pay customers back for the electricity they put on the grid, paired with an investment tax credit designed to help level the playing field, many Americans have seen significant returns on their investment in solar.

    • Scientists May Have Found The Key To Motivating People To Act On Climate Change

      In a study published in Climatic Change Wednesday, researchers found people may donate up to 50 percent more money to a cause when encouraged to think about a problem in collective terms, instead of appealing to personal responsibility. In other words, climate action campaigns like the ones Canada and the European Union have launched may do better when they call for us to act, instead of asking you to act.

  • Finance

    • Who will take the lead on economic inequality, and who should?

      Extreme inequality is not in and of itself a human rights violation, but it is a profoundly important human rights problem.

    • Another Secret ‘Trade’ Deal Leaks, Shows Corporations Still In Control

      TPP, TTIP, What?

      First, some explanation. If you are reading this you’ve been hearing a lot about the TPP, which is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There’s another “trade” agreement being negotiated called the TTIP, which is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. So for shorthand on the shorthand: TPP = Pacific, TTIP = Atlantic.

      The TPP (Pacific) negotiations have been completed. The TPP negotiations took place in a secret process dominated by the giant multinational corporations, and the final agreement is waiting to be approved or rejected by Congress – probably during the “lame duck” session, because that is when members are least likely to be held accountable for their votes.

      The TTIP (Atlantic; you may hear it referred to as “tee-tip”), on the other hand, is still being negotiated, also in a secret process dominated by the giant multinational corporations.

    • Is the Digital Revolution Turning Education Into a Ponzi Scheme?

      Is the digital revolution turning education into a Ponzi scheme? As Ponzi schemes are based on multiple deceptions, the answer is “yes!” Since the beginning of automation, there have been gains in paid work opportunities (along with immense suffering) and losses in different forms of craft knowledge and community patterns of mutual support. The digital revolution we are now undergoing involves a radical change from this centuries-old tradition.

    • Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation

      Americans are deeply dissatisfied with their jobs. A 2015 Conference Board report stated, “for the eighth straight year, less than half of US workers are satisfied with their jobs.” It found that only 48.3 percent were satisfied, really happy, at work. In 2013, it reported that 47.7 percent of workers were satisfied with their jobs – a minuscule increase of 0.6 percentage points. The Conference Board has been conducting annual job satisfaction surveys since decades. It found that the country hit bottom in 2010 when only 42.6 percent reported satisfaction and, in the report’s words, “well below the historical level of 61.1 percent in 1987.”

    • Why Millennials Love Bernie Sanders

      Why do millennials like Bernie Sanders so much? I love that this is a mystery to Washington. It’s the authenticity, stupid. You can’t fake a 40 year record. This is a generation that grew up in a time when entertainment and media is based on authenticity and not the fakeness of television. Like Diogenes, when millennials went on their pursuit to find the one honest man in politics, it was obvious that man was Bernie Sanders.

    • Students Take Lead to Reclaim US Public Education from Corporate Assault

      Parents, teachers, and students took part in rallies and “walk-ins” across the country on Wednesday, seeking to “reclaim” U.S. public schools from the grips of corporate reformers and privatization schemes.

      The coordinated actions are the second national event organized by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS), a coalition that includes the American Federation of Teachers, the Journey for Justice Alliance, and the Center for Popular Democracy, among other organizations and unions.

    • Pro-Corporate TTIP on the Ropes as Top French Officials Lambaste ‘Bad Deal’

      The corporate-influenced TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), exposed earlier this week as “an enormous corporate power grab,” looks increasingly precarious.

      French President François Hollande reportedly said Tuesday that he would “never accept” the current agreement, citing its negative implications for “the essential principles of our agriculture, our culture, of mutual access to public markets.”

      “At this stage [of talks] France says ‘No,’” Agence France-Presse quoted Hollande as saying at a meeting of left-wing politicians in Paris.

      Subsequently, French trade minister Matthias Fekl said a freeze in TTIP talks was the “most likely option” without concessions from the United States.

    • President Obama Calls for Support of TPP; Sanders Calls TPP a ‘Disaster’

      Amid all the hubbub about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), it’s easy to lose sight of that other international trade deal that’s caused a worldwide backlash in recent months.

    • Thomas Friedman’s Bargain-Basement Punditry
    • Watch: Seth Meyers Shreds Detroit’s Shady School System: You Have to Pay Your Teachers for Teaching

      Detroit teachers are getting royally screwed, and Seth Meyers won’t stand for it. Like the Flint water crisis, Detroit’s schools have come under the rule of Gov. Rick Snyder’s emergency manager that was appointed by the state. Not long after that, $30 million disappeared.

    • Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade

      In the US, all the main presidential candidates have now come out against TPP (the Trans-Pacific Partnership). Since the end of the second world war, the US empire has been the engine of trade liberalisation, and the consistency of views has been absolute among successive presidents, Democrat or Republican, from John F Kennedy to Ronald Reagan, George W Bush to Barack Obama. But suddenly, the neoliberal engine has stalled.

    • Detroit Teachers Shut Down Schools for Second Day Over Lack of Pay

      Detroit faces dual crises: The cash-strapped city doesn’t have enough money to pay its teachers and has begun shutting off water to up to 20,000 residents who are behind on their water bill

    • Verizon Workers to Hold 400 Protest Events Across the US, Plan to Crash Company’s Shareholder Meeting

      Striking Verizon workers and their supporters are holding a day of protest on Thursday, May 5. There will be over 400 actions throughout the country as the work stoppage enters its third week. Workers will also descend on the company’s shareholder meeting in New Mexico.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party

      But what excuse do left liberals have? Most left liberals are upper middle class. They have the resources to build a party. Why don’t they? What keeps left liberals from pouring resources into the Green Party, which has always been at least truly left liberal? Clearly the number of people in the United States who are for Bernie Sanders convinces me that the population would welcome such as party. For decades surveys have shown that Americans say there should be more than two parties. What is the hold-up? It’s past time.

    • Voters head to polls across UK for ‘Super Thursday’ elections

      Voters are heading to the polls in a series of elections across the UK on what has been dubbed “Super Thursday”.

      Elections are taking place for the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly of Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly and for 124 councils in England.

      New mayors will be elected in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Salford, with UK parliamentary by-elections held in Ogmore and Sheffield Brightside.

      Police and crime commissioners are also being elected in England and Wales.

    • Election 2016: Let’s Drop Acid and Have a Presidential Race

      On planet Earth, where I thought I was until yesterday, accusing someone’s father of helping to assassinate a president would be grounds for immediate disqualification, not fodder for double-digit domination that all but seals the Republican nomination.

    • Cruz’s Ex-College Roommate Celebrates His Campaign’s End: ‘Either There Is No God or He Reeeeally Doesn’t Like Ted’

      Craig Mazin garnered national attention during the 2016 presidential campaign after revealing himself to be Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) college roommate, and taking to Twitter to both mock the senator and his primary opponents and share intimate details about him.

    • Republicans Have Rejected the Republican Party

      Now that John Kasich and Ted Cruz have dropped out, it’s pretty much official: Donald Trump is the 2016 Republican nominee for president.

      The pundits never saw this coming, but they should have. The Republican Party has been running a scam on its base for decades now, and voters were bound to discover this scam sooner or later.

    • Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?

      The Greens now need to only do two things now to make their goal even more successful. First, Jill Stein and the Greens need to seriously consider branding themselves in a way that evokes Scandinavian democratic socialism, if not calling themselves Green Democratic Socialists outright. That is a perilous decision because it could alienate potential Green voters who are more moderate. I personally have seen and written in my own work about how the Greens are the actual democratic socialists of America as opposed to the Michael Harrington-Cornel West-Bayard Rustin Democratic Party kinda-sorta socialists. But there are an awful lot of Trump voters who call themselves “fiscal conservatives and social liberals” that have rejected neoclassical economic policies this election cycle that could be alienated.

    • Foreign-Born Citizens in Louisiana Need Extra Paperwork to Vote

      The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against Louisiana’s top elections officials Wednesday, accusing the state of violating the rights of naturalized citizens by requiring proof of citizenship before they can fully register to vote.

      The suit, filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana along with the Fair Elections Legal Network, asks the court to rule the practice, which was established in an 1874 state law, unconstitutional and issue a preliminary injunction against state and local officials from enforcing the provision while the suit moves forward.

    • Sanders Momentum Evidence of Dems’ Need to Embrace “Bold Agenda for Change”

      Armed with a fresh win in Indiana and a platform that reflects a “bold agenda for change,” Bernie Sanders is providing key lessons that the Democratic party would do well to heed, some analysts say.

      It was “a remarkable victory, a statement of the extent and scope of the Sanders surge,” Robert Borosage, founder and president of the Institute for America’s Future, wrote of the Vermont senator’s win in the Hoosier state.

      Speaking to press Tuesday evening, Sanders said, “I sense some great victories coming, and I think while the path is narrow — and I do not deny that for a moment — I think we can pull off one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States and, in fact, become the nominee for the Democratic Party,” he continued. “And once we secure that position, I have absolute confidence that we are going to defeat Donald Trump in the general election.”

    • Pundits Sold Kasich As A Moderate Alternative. Here’s The Truth.

      As governor of Ohio, Kasich drastically slashed income taxes on the wealthy and entirely eliminated the estate tax, while increasing the tax burden for the poorest 20 percent of the state. To balance his state’s budget, he pushed through deeply unpopular cuts to city budgets, which led to tens of thousands of workers getting laid off. The only other Republican governor in the nation to push such extreme tax and spending cuts was Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who signed a budget that left the state with a massive deficit, shuttered schools, and kicked 15,000 people off of food stamps.

    • Why Bernie Sanders is lobbying superdelegates — even though they won’t save his campaign
    • Ordinary Voters Can Now Lobby Superdelegates for Bernie Sanders

      It’s no secret that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is behind rival Hillary Clinton in superdelegates. The conversation is inevitably turning to the math of their contest—and the acknowledgement that, although the superdelegates haven’t officially voted yet, they are on Clinton’s side.

    • John Kasich quits Republican race, leaving Trump last man standing

      John Kasich formally suspended his presidential campaign on Wednesday, paving the way for Donald Trump to clinch the Republican nomination with a personal concession speech that barely touched on the political maelstrom his decision unleashes.

      The Ohio governor was the last of 16 candidates to see their ambitions blown away by Trump’s unconventional entry into the presidential race, but he went quietly and with little of the drama that has marked earlier exits by other rivals.

    • Progressive Independent Party Launches a Petition to Unify Support Behind Bernie Sanders

      The American two-party system is being scrutinized and criticized more than ever during this election campaign, and many say the reason is Bernie Sanders—an independent senator now running for president as a Democrat but whose chances at snagging the party’s nomination are increasingly slim.

      But as the Democratic-Republican binary continues to dominate U.S. elections, how can truly independent voices break through? That’s the problem that the Progressive Independent Party, or PIP, is trying to solve. The new party, also listed as the “Honorary Bernie Sanders Party” on Facebook, is trying to bypass the delegate math and unfair campaign spending that so often determines the next American president. The founder, Araquel Bloss, writes on the party’s website that it is time to create a “long-term, truly viable third party.”

    • These Are Not Sweet, Nice Little People: Argentinians and Pretty Much Everyone Else Troll Drumpf

      Now that – yes, Virginia – Drumpf is the presumptive if inconceivable GOP nominee following the inglorious and alas wife-punching surrender of Cruz, Argentina’s merciless hordes of brown-skinned, Trump-trashed barbarians are making the most of it. With a new soccer-themed ad, they now join enthusiastic trollers like the defiant Hispanic kids in California wearing “Dump Trump” t-shirts, the Mexican filmmakers using his racist rhetoric against him, and the clueless wingnuts in this country freaking out at having suddenly become the moral equivalent of the KKK; notes Stephen King, “Conservatives who for 8 years sowed the dragon’s teeth of partisan politics are horrified to discover they have grown an actual dragon.”

    • By Picking Donald Trump As the GOP Nominee, Republicans May Have Handed the Presidency to Hillary Clinton

      Last night, the Republican party effectively handed its presidential nomination to Donald Trump. And in doing so, they may have handed an easy general election victory to Hillary Clinton. What in the world were Republican voters thinking?

    • Here’s What President Donald Trump Would Do To The Economy

      So if he were to win the presidency, what would Trump do to the economy? In short, the outlook is bleak.

    • The GOP Said They Needed To Woo Latino Voters To Win. Then They Nominated Trump For President.
    • Donald Trump Won Because Republicans Have Bad Ideas And People Hate Those Ideas
    • The Trump Test Before Us

      Trump has built his campaign on racism, sexism, and xenophobia. There’s more enthusiasm for him among leaders of the KKK than leaders of the political party he now controls.

    • Warren: I’ll ‘Fight My Heart Out’ to Ensure Trump ‘Never Reaches the White House’

      Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is preparing to wage war to make sure that Donald Trump, the now-presumptive Republican nominee, “never reaches the White House.”

    • Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”

      Other responses to Trump’s comments bothered me, though. Elizabeth Warren said that Trump “wears the sexism out front for everyone to see,” which is undeniably true. More than just one man’s sexism, though, the whole affair is a stark reminder that we really need to change the conversation when it comes to gender. And, doing so has to go beyond attacking people for the same things women abhor—emphasizing our looks more than our words. For instance, Warren made fun of Trump’s hair in her response to his comments. There’s no need to play that same game; his remarks would be no more palatable were he to shave his head or sport a mullet. Likewise, Clinton’s recognition of the importance of equal pay would mean no less were she a supermodel.

    • Donald Trump Set to Be GOP Nominee Despite Links to Organized Crime

      As Donald Trump virtually clinches the Republican presidential nomination after Senator Ted Cruz suspends his campaign following a devastating defeat in the Indiana primary, we are joined by Tom Robbins, investigative journalist in residence at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, who has reported on Trump’s history of close relationships with organized crime figures in the United States. We examine some of the characters and connections Robbins helped expose as a reporter who covered politics, labor and organized crime for the Daily News and The Village Voice from 1985 to 2011. His recent article for The Marshall Project is “Trump and the Mob.” Robbins also critiques the media’s coverage of Trump on the campaign trail.

    • Beyond Schadenfreude, the Spectacular Pundit Failure on Trump Is Worth Remembering

      Trying to predict the future can be fun, which is why — from office sports pools to stock market speculation — many do it. Generally, though, people make such predictions with at least some humility: with the knowledge that they do not actually know what the future holds.

      But not America’s beloved political pundits. When they pronounce what the future has in store for us, it comes in the form of definitive decrees, shaped with the tone of authoritative certainty. With a few exceptions, those who purported to see the future of the 2016 GOP nomination process spent many months categorically assuring everyone that, polls notwithstanding, Donald Trump simply could not, would not, become the GOP nominee; one could spend all day posting humiliating examples, so a representative sampling will have to suffice…

    • Empirical Test of Piketty’s r > g Theory Coming

      Bernie Sanders forced the issue of wealth inequality into the presidential campaign, which presented a real problem for neoliberals of the Democratic persuasion. They want us to believe that the market rewards people in accordance with their merit and hard work. It doesn’t. They want us to believe everyone can get ahead if they get a good education and work hard. Not so. So the neoliberal dems fall back on their version of trickle-down: economic growth is the cure. So what is the future of economic growth?

    • The Inside Story of How Bill Clinton Sacrificed Prisoners’ Rights for Political Gain

      On the eve of the New York state primary last month, as Hillary Clinton came closer to the Democratic nomination, Vice President Joe Biden went on TV and defended her husband’s 1994 crime bill. Asked in an interview if he felt shame for his role passing a law that has been the subject of so much recent criticism, Biden answered, “Not at all,” and boasted of its successes — among them putting “100,000 cops on the street.” His remarks sparked a new round of debate over the legacy of the crime bill, which has haunted Clinton ever since she hit the campaign trail with a vow to “end the era of mass incarceration.”

      A few days later, on April 24, a lesser-known crime law quietly turned 20. The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 — or AEDPA — was signed by Bill Clinton in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. While it has been mostly absent from the recent debates over the crime policies of the ’90s, its impact has been no less profound, particularly when it comes to a bedrock constitutional principle: habeas corpus, or the right of people in prison to challenge their detention. For 20 years, AEDPA has shut the courthouse door on prisoners trying to prove they were wrongfully convicted. Americans are mostly unaware of this legacy, even as we know more than ever about wrongful convictions. Barry Scheck, co-founder and head of the Innocence Project, calls AEDPA “a disaster” and “a major roadblock since its passage.” Many would like to see it repealed.

    • Democratic Senator Urges Business Elites to Get More Involved in Politics

      Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called on an audience of business and political elites earlier this week to respond to populist anger by lobbying harder for a deficit-reduction package that would reduce corporate tax rates and cut public retirement programs such as Social Security.

      Although a dominant populist sentiment is that the system is already rigged in favor of the rich, Warner suggested that the “business community” needs to get more involved in politics or face unpleasant repercussions.

    • DNC Chairwoman Alienates Independents With Defense Of Closed Primaries

      The chairwoman for the Democratic National Committee said she “absolutely” believes the “party’s nominee should be chosen by someone registered with that party,” a statement which could further alienate independents who have tried to participate in the 2016 presidential election.

      On the Bloomberg Politics show, “With All Due Respect,” Debbie Wasserman Schultz declared, “We should not have independents or Republicans playing games.”

      When asked if that means she is opposed to the concept of open primaries, which allow citizens to vote in primaries regardless of their party affiliation, the chairwoman asserted the Party’s nominees “should be chosen by members of that party.” She claimed she did not want to do away with open primaries, but she does not want to see states with closed primaries move to open primary systems.

    • Sanders, DWS Clash Over Dem Party Inclusivity

      The Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) chairwoman and the party’s left-wing presidential contender are sparring in the media over how welcoming the party should be toward independent voters.

      Heading into the Indiana primary on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is making the case that all party elections should be held as open contests. Primaries in the Hoosier state and nineteen others allow voters who identify as independents to participate in the Democrats’ nominating process.

      Sanders once again finds himself pitted against DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), who on Monday called for an entirely closed primary system.

    • Watch: After Bernie Wins Indiana, CNN Immediately Badgers Him to Quit

      Bernie Sanders won the Indiana primary by a slim margin last night, just 52 percent of the vote, yet immediately after announcing his victory, CNN was already hounding the Democratic candidate to drop out of the race.

      “Tonight we have a new political reality … where we have a presumptive Republican nominee [Trump], and the general election for him is very much beginning. … So, staying in this race, aren’t you effectively making it harder for the Democrats to beat the man who you say would be so bad?” CNN’s Dana Bash asked Bernie Sanders.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Chinese censorship: arbitrary rule changes are a form of powerful intermittent reinforcement

      China’s Internet censors are capricious and impossible to predict — but this isn’t because China’s censors are incompetent, rather, they’re tapping into one of the most powerful forms of conditioning, the uncertainty born of intermittent reinforcement.

      Some examples of China’s odd rule-changes: a viral video by comedian Papi Jiang has been expunged because it used the terms “wocao” (“fuck”) and “xiaobiaozi” (“little whore”), though thousands of other videos that prominently feature the terms were left untouched. Apple’s ebook and video platforms were also suddenly taken offline.

      As C Custer writes at Tech in Asia, this caprice is by design: by not specifying a set of hard and fast rules, but rather the constant risk of being taken down for crossing some invisible line, China’s censors inspire risk-aversion in people who rely on the net to be heard or earn their livings. It’s what Singaporeans call “out of bounds,” the unspecified realm of things you musn’t, shouldn’t or won’t want to enter.

    • Policing My Mouth: On the Art of Self-Censorship

      My second grade teacher, the truculent Mrs. Dunham, masking-taped my mouth shut. She pulled the shrieking roll of tape all the way around my head thrice in front of the entire class. My crime? Announcing in the middle of math drills that the Bookmobile was circling and circling the parking lot because its regular spot was blocked and it had nowhere to park.

      My classmates’ faces silently told me they were on my side and that I had shared news they needed immediately. What would the driver do? Why was that truck in the Bookmobile spot? It was almost Bookmobile time, so time was of the essence! Someone needed to go do something before the Bookmobile drove away!

    • Canadian Scientists Are Speaking Out After 9 Years of Censorship

      For nine years, federal scientists in Canada couldn’t talk to the press. Well, they could, but only after going through a dizzying amount of federal bureaucracy, a situation that turned into functional censorship.

      Why? You can thank former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who instituted the policy shortly after his ascendancy in 2006. A huge proponent of exploiting the country’s natural resources like oil and gas, Harper apparently feared that some of his own scientists would give reporters negative assessments of the environmental impacts of the country’s energy work, according to Nature.

    • New Ambassador Hotel’s new ahistorical and undemocratic corporate censorship role

      One can only hope that this recent undemocratic act by the New Ambassador Hotel management and its parent company, Rainbow Tourism Group shall not be repeated. Whatever their fears for the profit or relationship with the state, there is always a better way of addressing their challenges.

      What they cannot do is to play a direct part in diminishing the independence of the press club, media freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

    • Michael Bloomberg blasts safe spaces, social justice warriors and campus censorship
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Michigan Politicians Want People Who Hack Cars To Spend The Rest Of Their Lives In Prison

      There’s apparently no situation legislators can’t make worse. Self-driving cars are an inevitability, as are all the attendant concerns about autonomous vehicles roaming the streets unattended, mowing down buses at 2 miles per hour or forcing drivers behind them to obey all relevant traffic laws.

      There are fears that people will just stop paying attention to driving, which is weird, because that’s one of the few immediate advantages of self-driving vehicles. There are also fears that a robot car is nothing more than a tempting attack target for malicious hackers. There’s some truth to this last one, especially as manufacturers have loaded up vehicles with on-board computers but given little thought to properly securing them.

      Even so, that’s no excuse for the sort of legislation being proposed by two Michigan politicians, which would reward self-driving car hackers with lifetime stays at the nearest prison.

    • Lawsuit: CBP Took $240,000 From Man And Refused To Respond To His Forfeiture Challenge Until It Had Already Processed It

      Looks like someone might be getting their money back after CBP agents — operating a great distance from the US borders — seized $240,000 from a man traveling through Indiana. While driving along I-70 outside of Indianapolis last November, Najeh Muhana was pulled over for not signalling a lane change. That’s when things got weird and a bit unconstitutional.

      According to his filing for return of his money, Muhana’s vehicle was searched “without consent, warrant or probable cause.” The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department officers even brought a drug dog to the scene, but failed to uncover any contraband. The $240,000 Muhana was carrying caught their eye, though.

    • Rule 41: Getting Around the Constitution and Having It Too

      Anyone who’s even halfway following the news of the proposed updates to Rule 41 probably can’t help but be struck by the irony of the situation. It’s actually humorous, in a Vonnegutian tragicomic sort of way.

      In case you haven’t been following the news, the proposed changes from the advisory committee on criminal rules for the Judicial Conference of the United States would update Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and broadly expand law enforcement’s legal authority when it comes to hacking and surveillance. The Supreme Court has already passed the proposal to Congress, which must disavow the changes by December 1 or it becomes the governing rule for every federal court in the country.

    • Akron Police Told A Homeless Panhandler He Should ‘Get A F*cking Job.’ Now He’s Suing.

      City leaders in Akron, Ohio, are violating the First Amendment by threatening to arrest panhandlers who do not register with city police, a new lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleges.

      Police currently use the registry to conduct background checks and then issue photo identification badges to certified beggars. The same law also prohibits panhandling in certain parts of town, bans it city-wide after sundown, and makes it a crime to solicit charity with a dishonest story of hardship.

    • North Carolina Police Tasered Mentally Ill Man to Death in Jail—Then Covered It Up

      The News Observer in North Carolina has filed a shocking and disturbing expose into the five-year cover-up by local deputies who tasered a mentally ill man to death.

      Brandon Bethea was 24-years-old when Harnett County detention officers followed him into a padded cell and shot him in the chest with a taser. Bethea fell to the ground, still in leg shackles, as the officer pulled the trigger twice more jolting him with electricity. They left the cell, waiting 20 minutes to check if he was alive. He couldn’t be revived.

    • Death by Taser, in a padded cell, caught on camera

      As an officer unlocked Bethea’s handcuffs, officer John Clark stood at the back of the group. Clark pulled his Taser from his belt and hid it behind his back. He walked into Bethea’s cell, pointing the Taser at him. Bethea stepped back.

      Two prongs pierced Bethea’s chest, unleashing sharp electrical currents. Bethea clutched his chest, fell and rolled onto his stomach. While five officers stood over Bethea, Clark pulled the trigger on his Taser twice more. Then the officers left Bethea on the floor of the cell.

      Twenty minutes would pass before anyone came into the cell to check on him. He could not be revived.

    • Solitary Confinement Is Now Banned In Country’s Largest Juvenile Justice System

      Criminal justice advocates and scientists have long considered solitary confinement a form of psychological torture that also causes damage to the brain. Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl proposed the ban, citing atrocious conditions and research that says solitary reduces the likelihood of juveniles’ rehabilitation.

      Young people who previously spent hours, days, and years in solitary described their experiences Tuesday, before the Board voted unanimously to eliminate the practice.

    • Bill Moyers in Conversation: Eddie Glaude Jr. on America’s Racial ‘Value Gap’

      The author is Eddie Glaude Jr. Glaude was raised in the Deep South, in Moss Point, Mississippi, and still remembers the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross at the fairground. He’s now a professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton University, where he also chairs the Center for African-American Studies. This is his third book, and he’s a member in good standing of the black establishment, which he rigorously calls to account in Democracy in Black.

    • Why Are Cops Shooting Dogs? 5 Things You Should Know

      There’s no exact count for how many dogs are killed by police every year, though, in 2014, an official with the Department Of Justice declared the shooting of dogs by police an “epidemic.” But, hell, no one really knows how many human beings are killed by cops each year, so it’s not exactly surprising that we’re even less sure about man’s best friend. Still, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that as many as half of all police firearm discharges involve a dog. When we brought that statistic up to “Tim,” a police officer for 16 years, he said that sounded about right.

    • Cop Shoots Barely Injured Cat He Says Was a Threat

      A police officer in North Catasauqua, Pa., responded to a 911 call about an injured cat, Sugar, by finding the feline and fatally shooting it.

      The local district attorney, John Morganelli, told a news conference that the officer, Leighton Pursell, said he saw injuries on the cat’s leg and a trail of blood before deciding to kill the cat, as my9nj.com reports.

    • Little Girl Detained By Police After Trying to Buy School Lunch with Real $2 Bill

      There are stupid school discipline stories, and then there’s this: a Houston, Texas, public school called the police after a 13-year-old girl attempted to purchase chicken nuggets from the cafeteria using a $2 bill.

    • Wisconsin Police Shot a Fleeing Hostage Without Warning, Then Misled the Public

      Police officers in Neenah (Wis.) shot and killed 60-year-old Michael Funk as he fled a motorcycle shop where he was being held hostage last December 5.

      Brian Flatoff had been allegedly holding Funk and two other men captive in the shop, apparently over a dispute over a motorcycle. Police had surrounded the shop and taken fire from Flatoff, with one officer sustaining injuries after a bullet stuck his helmet, so officers were understandably on edge when Funk frantically raced from the rear of the building holding a handgun.

      Funk, who had a concealed carry permit and never pointed his gun at the police, was shot multiple times and reportedly laid on the ground for 25 minutes without medical care and died at the scene.

    • EXCLUSIVE: CAGE reveals groups and ‘products’ involved in covert Government propaganda programme

      London – CAGE today releases a disturbing report based on a year-long investigation, that reveals the inner details of the covert Government propaganda programme, recently reported by the Guardian.

    • Going global: the UK government’s ‘CVE’ agenda, counter-radicalisation and covert propaganda

      In this article we show how those orchestrating the campaigns have global ambitions – and despite the abject lack of debate – how the UK’s “industrial scale propaganda” programme is already being held up as best practice by the EU and UN.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Brazil Has To Pause Adoption Of Broadband Usage Caps After Consumers Revolt

      It appears to have only taken the better part of the last decade, but we finally appear to be reaching the point where people have finally realized that broadband caps aren’t about managing congestion, they’re about turf protection. Here in the States, companies like Suddenlink, Comcast AT&T and CenturyLink have all rushed toward adopting caps and overage fees as not only a pointed weapon against streaming video competitors like Netflix, but as a nifty way to charge more money than ever for a product that’s actually getting cheaper and cheaper to provide.

  • DRM

    • Why the future of web browsers belongs to the biggest tech firms

      Ten years ago, there were two web browsers that anyone cared about: Netscape and Internet Explorer.

      Each browser vied for favour with web publishers, begging them to optimise their pages for one browser or the other. The browser with the most pages would, the browser companies thought, win the most users and thus the web, and so the first browser wars were fought to win over publishers.

      But that fight came at the expense of users, because the one thing publishers of web 1.0 really wanted was pop-up ads – and the more obnoxious the better. Remember ads that showed up one pixel square and ran away from your mouse-pointer if you tried to close them, while auto-playing sound adverts? And those weren’t even the worst! Browsers didn’t have pop-up blocking – they had pop-up “enhancing”. Any company that blocked pop-ups would be de-optimized by the big publishers and doomed to obscurity.

      Then came Mozilla – a not-for-profit, openly developed web browser that didn’t care about publishers. It cared about users. It blocked pop-ups by default, understanding that users wanted the see the publishers’ sites but not their pop-ups, and if Mozilla had enough users, it wouldn’t matter if publishers hated them.

      Skip to 2016 and the web is a very different place. The World Wide Web Consortium, the not-for-profit organization that creates the web’s open technology standards, made a brave effort to tame the web’s lunatic proprietary HTML extensions that paid off, making those “Best viewed with” badges on websites a relic of the past. All the browsers have changed, too: Netscape vanished, Mozilla begat Firefox, Internet Explorer morphed into Edge, and Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome grew from obscure side projects to two of the dominant forces on the web.

      Ten years is an eternity in web years, and in a decade, everything can change.

      However, that change might be coming to an end thanks to the existing web browser vendors and the World Wide Web Consortium. Since 2013 they’ve been working with Netflix, the cable industry, and the MPAA to create a standard to limit which browsers can display W3C-standardised data. It could mean goodbye to “just works” and hello again to “best viewed with”.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Mexico’s trade mark opposition system approved by Congress

        Trade mark opposition proceedings will soon be available in Mexico after the lower chamber of Congress approved an amendment to the country’s industrial property law

      • Vice Media Sends Cease And Desist To ViceVersa Over Trademark Infringement

        We’re going to have to keep hammering this home until more people get it: trademark law is about preventing confusion in the marketplace. The reason why that needs to be understood is that just about every time you read a story about one entity going after another over a trademark issue, the refrain of “we must protect our trademarks or we lose them” is trotted out like some kind of bower card that trumps the rest of the discussion. That excuse is just that: an excuse. And it certainly doesn’t lift from those that use it the burden of being called trademark bullies.

        Here to show us all an example of this kind of bullying is Vice Media, which decided to fire off a cease and desist letter to ViceVersa, a barely-making-it punk band.

    • Copyrights

      • Public consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain and on the ‘panorama exception’

        The answering guide is being translated in other languages, we hope to make them available by mid-May.

      • Copyright Holders Try To Stop Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ From Entering Public Domain Using Co-Author Trick

        At the end of last year, Mike wrote about an attempt to keep the Diary of Anne Frank out of the public domain by adding her father’s name as a co-author. As Techdirt wrote at the time, that seemed to be a pretty clear abuse of the copyright system. But it also offered a dangerous precedent, which has just turned up again in a complicated case involving the French composer Maurice Ravel, and his most famous composition, the hypnotically repetitive ballet score “Bolero.”

        Ravel died on December 28, 1937, so you might expect the score to have entered the public domain in 2008, since EU copyright generally lasts 70 years after the death of a creator. But by a quirk of French law, an extra eight years and 120 days is added for musical works published between January 1, 1921, and December 31, 1947 (on account of the Second World War, apparently). Ravel’s Bolero first appeared in 1922 1928, and therefore receives the extra years of copyright, which means that according to French law, it entered the public domain on May 1 this year.


Links 4/5/2016: Wine Staging 1.9.9, ImageMagick Bug Fixes

Posted in News Roundup at 10:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source is Good for Business

    The technology industry is changing fast – much faster than we’ve seen in the past – due to the proliferation of high quality, free and open source software, said Stephen O’Grady, co-founder and principal analyst at RedMonk, in his keynote talk at Collaboration Summit in March. Developers have access to open source technologies without asking for permission.

  • Planned Death [Ed: Pieter Hintjens has terminal cancer]

    A planned death is not a moment in time, like a car accident or a fatal stroke. It is a process. A social process that involves hundreds of people, each doing their part, grieving their loss, accepting their own mortality.

  • Zebra Technologies’ RhoMobile App Development Platform Goes Open Source

    …its enterprise and consumer mobile app development platform, is now released to open source under the MIT License.

  • What makes React so special?
  • Events

    • How to identify small problems for big team wins

      Every software project has moments where they have “a bit of spinach in their teeth”—that is, a simple problem that they just can’t see.

      To address this, Deb Nicholson started SpinachCon, an informal workshop that brings free and open source software projects and volunteers together to identify and fix little problems that can pose big obstacles.

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Databases

    • NoSQL Databases, Explained: How They Help Solve the Data Storage Deluge

      NoSQL databases have emerged as a key tool for organizations battling the data deluge. What does NoSQL actually mean, and which advantages does it deliver for data storage needs? Here’s everything you need to know about NoSQL.

      For starters, let’s make clear that NoSQL is not a specific database product. It’s a term that refers to a general category of database, which different vendors have implemented in different ways.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Document Foundation Kicks Off Month of LibreOffice Campaign, Awards Contributors

      Softpedia has been informed by The Document Foundation’s Mike Saunders about a new campaign which aims to credit every single contributor to the open-source LibreOffice office suite.

      Dubbed Month of LibreOffice, the new campaign kicks off on the first day of May 2016, awarding some of the LibreOffice contributors with a barnstar via a special wiki page. The campaign has just started, so you won’t see many entries there, as they need to be added by members of The Document Foundation in time, depending on the task they did.

  • CMS

    • Workflow and efficiency geek talks Drush and Drupal

      Meet Greg Anderson, an open source contributor at Pantheon and co-maintainer of Drush. If you’ve used Drush before, you’ve probably saved a bunch of time on repetitive tasks. If you haven’t used it yet, what are you waiting for?

      Greg Anderson is all about boosting productivity and improving development workflows. He shared some of his insights in this interview. We also found out how he got involved with Drupal and got a preview of his session at DrupalCon NOLA on command line tools for Drupal 8 modules.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD Foundation Announces Gold Sponsor

      Not only is it great to hear that companies are giving back to the project, but also that OpenBSD was nominated by DDG users. A big thanks to them and their community!

  • Public Services/Government

    • After three years of Linux, Munich reveals draft of crunch report that could decide its open source future

      As for the implications of this interim report, Matthias Kirschner, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), said its assessment of Accenture’s findings is that the problems don’t lie with the PC clients themselves but with the way they are managed and their associated backend infrastructure.

      “The study does not mention any concrete problems with the PC clients (neither GNU/Linux nor proprietary). It highlights, that IT security, especially at the client level, is perceived as bad for getting things done.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding


  • Leicester City: ‘Every bookmaker is crying out in pain’

    “In the history of betting, certainly since it was legalised in 1961, a [single event] winner with odds of 5,000-1 has never happened,” says Simon Clare from the betting firm Coral. “Every bookmaker is crying out in pain.

    “That’s a barometer of what Leicester have done and just how amazing this win is.”

    Jessica Bridges from rival Ladbrokes agrees.

  • Science

    • Your Brain Warps People’s Faces To Match Stereotypes, New Research Shows

      Implicit biases are incredibly powerful. Unconscious stereotypes affect how we evaluate who is running for political office, who we promote at work, who we encourage academically, and, perhaps most devastatingly, who we regard and react to as threats.

      A huge body of research shows that black Americans are perceived to be more threatening than white Americans, and are stereotyped as more likely to be involved in criminal behavior. During split-second decisions, those biases can have devastating consequences — particularly when it comes to policing and the justice system. In 2015, young black men were nine times as likely to be killed by the police as other Americans, even though about 25 percent of them were unarmed, according to reporting by the Guardian.

    • Death by GPS

      One early morning in March 2011, Albert Chretien and his wife, Rita, loaded their Chevrolet Astro van and drove away from their home in Penticton, British Columbia. Their destination was Las Vegas, where Albert planned to attend a trade show. They crossed the border and, somewhere in northern Oregon, they picked up Interstate 84.

      The straightest route would be to take I-84 to Twin Falls, Idaho, near the Nevada border, and then follow US Route 93 all the way to Vegas. Although US 93 would take them through Jackpot, Nevada, the town near the Idaho state line where they planned to spend the first night, they looked at a roadmap and decided to exit I-84 before that junction. They would choose a scenic road less traveled, Idaho State Highway 51, which heads due south away from the I-84 corridor, crossing the border several miles to the west. The Chretiens figured there had to be a turnoff from Idaho 51 that would lead them east to US 93.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Medical Errors Are Leading Killer After Heart Disease and Cancer, Study Finds

      After heart disease and cancer, medical errors kill more Americans than anything else, claiming a quarter of a million lives a year, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

      If bungles and safety lapses in the hospital were accounted for as deaths from disease and injury are, they would be the third most common cause of death in the U.S., leading to more fatalities than respiratory disease, the report in the British Medical Journal argues.

    • America’s Pill Popping Is Making Our Fish Anxious and Possibly Getting Into Our Vegetables

      In America’s never-ending pursuit to be number one in all things, it has achieved top billing in a number of troubling areas, including where overmedication is concerned. We are the most pill-popping country on earth, with an astounding 70 percent of us regularly taking one prescription drug and about half of us taking two. A quarter of us take five or more prescription medications, according to the Mayo Clinic, which for the record, is a whole lot.

      What goes into our bodies ultimately must come out, and that’s as true for meds as it is for anything else. Without getting into the elephant in the room (what does it mean when a good portion of the population is taking enough drugs to kill said elephant?), let’s turn to another issue. That is, when some of those pharmaceuticals are excreted—meaning peed out by users—they generally end up in our toilet water. From there, they enter our waterways and recycled water supplies, the latter of which are used to irrigate food crops. Ultimately, new research finds, those drugs can unwittingly be re-absorbed both by humans and by fish who never signed up for a prescription.

    • How limiting women’s access to birth control and abortions hurts the economy

      As a consequence, the right to control their reproductive health has become increasingly illusory for many women, particularly the poor.

    • The contradictory reasons cancer-drug prices are going up

      The $10,000-a-month cancer drug has become the new normal, to the dismay of physicians and patients who increasingly face the burden of financial toxicity. A pair of new studies illustrate just how recently that pricing model has come into vogue and pull back the curtain on the strange market forces that push prices steadily higher in the years after the treatments are launched.

      The first study, published in JAMA Oncology, examined 32 cancer medications given in pill form and found that their initial launch list prices have steadily increased over the years — even after adjusting for inflation. The average monthly amount insurers and patients paid for a new cancer drug was less than $2,000 in the year 2000 but soared to $11,325 in 2014.

    • As Flint was slowly poisoned, Snyder’s inner circle failed to act

      A year ago, Gov. Rick Snyder was stoking rumors of a presidential bid as a metrics-driven Republican whose ability to run government like a business transformed a troubled state.

    • BREAKING NEWS: CJEU says Tobacco Products Directive is valid

      According to the press release, the CJEU ruled that Article 13, as well as the other provisions regarding “the integrity of health warnings after the packet has been opened, to the position and minimum dimensions of the health warnings and to the shape of unit packets of cigarettes, the minimum number of cigarettes per unit packet” and “health warnings covering 65% of the external front and back surface of each unit packet” are proportionate and well-compliant with the principle of subsidiarity, due to the overriding interest of public-health protection that the Directive intends to pursue.

    • Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!

      The Flint water crisis is now two years old — and the water still isn’t safe to drink. There have been civil and criminal investigations, two congressional hearings and extensive reporting, particularly during the presidential primary in Michigan. Gov. Rick Snyder appointed a special task force. Yet only 33 pipes — 3 of every thousand — have been replaced.

    • Feds Agree to Tolerate the Country’s Largest Medical Marijuana Dispensary

      The Justice Department, which has been trying to shut down Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the country, since 2012, is backing down. Yesterday Oakland officials, who have supported the dispensary all along, announced that the feds had agreed to let it stay open.

      “We celebrate the release from federal prosecution,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “We believe in compassion. We believe in health.”

      The announcement comes a few weeks after the DOJ abandoned its efforts to enforce an injunction against another California dispensary, the Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana (MAMM). In allowing MAMM to reopen, the feds let stand a ruling that said such enforcement actions against state-legal dispensaries violate a spending rider known as the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment, which prohibits the DOJ from using appropriated funds to prevent states from implementing their medical marijuana laws.

    • Detroit to begin water shutoffs Tuesday

      Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department is set to begin Tuesday shutting off service to customers who haven’t paid their bills.

      Linda Clark, a spokeswoman for the department, said they initially planned to begin the process Monday, but the water department’s director, Gary Brown, delayed it one day.

      “We want to give our customers every opportunity to schedule arrangements,” Clark said. “We wanted to give them another day.”

  • Security

    • Open Source ImageMagick Security Bug Puts Sites at Risk

      ImageMagick, an open source suite of tools for working with graphic images used by a large number of websites, has been found to contain a serious security vulnerability that puts sites using the software at risk for malicious code to be executed onsite. Security experts consider exploitation to be so easy they’re calling it “trivial,” and exploits are already circulating in the wild. The biggest risk is to sites that allows users to upload their own image files.

      Information about the vulnerability was made public Tuesday afternoon by Ryan Huber, a developer and security researcher, who wrote that he had little choice but to post about the exploit.

    • Huge number of sites imperiled by critical image-processing vulnerability

      A large number of websites are vulnerable to a simple attack that allows hackers to execute malicious code hidden inside booby-trapped images.

      The vulnerability resides in ImageMagick, a widely used image-processing library that’s supported by PHP, Ruby, NodeJS, Python, and about a dozen other languages. Many social media and blogging sites, as well as a large number of content management systems, directly or indirectly rely on ImageMagick-based processing so they can resize images uploaded by end users.

    • Extreme photo-bombing: Bad ImageMagick bug puts countless websites at risk of hijacking

      A wildly popular software tool used by websites to process people’s photos can be exploited to execute malicious code on servers and leak server-side files.

      Security bugs in the software are apparently being exploited in the wild right now to compromise at-risk systems. Patches to address the vulnerabilities are available in the latest source code – but are incomplete and have not been officially released, we’re told.

    • Server-jacking exploits for ImageMagick are so trivial, you’ll scream

      Samples of booby-trapped image files that exploit ImageMagick to compromise servers and other computers are well and truly out in the open now.

    • Every Now And Then The World Of FLOSS Messes UP

      Yep. This is one of those widely used FLOSS tools that has big holes in security. It’s again one of those vulnerabilities where images are treated as code with no checking/sanitizing.

    • CII’s Best Practices badge program is making open source projects more secure
    • Linux Foundation Badge Program to Boost Open Source Security
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Terrorism: From the Irish Dynamite War to the Islamic State

      How many Western leaders are honestly interested in terrorists’ motives?

    • Lessons from Iraq’s Green Zone Protests

      The temporary takeover of the Iraqi parliament building and other facilities in the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad by followers of Muqtada al-Sadr was a demonstration not only of current fractures in Iraqi politics but also of a recurring American misconception about the application of military force on behalf of political objectives.

    • What Is the US Military Doing in the Baltics?

      Get ready for the new cold war, which will no doubt turn hot if Hillary Clinton gets into the White House: NATO has just announced it is “considering” the addition of 4,000 more troops to be stationed in Poland and the Baltic states, i.e. right on Russia’s western border. The Washington Post helpfully informs us that this is being done “to deter future Russian aggression” – as if there’s any real possibility that Putin will order the Russian army to take Warsaw or march on Estonia.

      What this is is another NATO provocation aimed at showing Putin who’s really in charge in the former Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. They’re hoping the Russian leader will respond in kind. But he’s too smart for that: instead, Putin will retaliate in a different theater, perhaps in Syria or Armenia, where the fight with Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh is in full swing.

    • Turkish Parliament Members Brawl Over Potential Constitutional Amendment

      The next time you get fed up with the partisan politics of the United States Congress, take a look back at the Turkish parliamentary session on Monday night, which ended in a huge fight.

      A committee within the Turkish Parliament passed a bill that, if approved, would remove legislators’ immunity and potentially trigger investigations of certain Parliament members. Members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party believe the bill “is designed to target them and suppress dissent,” Reuters reports.

      Shortly before the bill was approved by the committee, a fight broke out between members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party and the AK Party, which currently holds power.

    • Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry

      Breaking his pledge, Obama issued the monsters a “get out of jail free” card. There wouldn’t even be an investigation, much less indictments. “We need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” he said. The new president traveled to Langley to reassure the torturers everything would be cool. (“I will be as vigorous in protecting you as you are vigorous in protecting the American people.”) He even cooperated with the Republicans who approved of torture to pressure other countries not to file charges against U.S. torturers.

    • Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea

      Sanctions on North Korea have failed.


      Foremost among the obstacles to an effective North Korea sanctions regime is smuggling along the China-DPRK (North Korea) border. Military items disguised as ordinary goods seem easily able to evade detection thanks to inconsistent inspection by border guards, bribery, false declarations, and North Korean firms based in China that actually belong to military-run trading companies. Since these practices are surely well known to the Chinese authorities, it seems fair to assume they have no strong interest in preventing or at least substantially reducing it—something they could accomplish with a more intensive border inspection process. That China is not doing so no doubt reflects its oft-stated position that the North Korean nuclear issue is the result of other countries’ policies, not China’s, hence that resolving it is others’ responsibility, mainly the US.

    • The Myths and Secret Lives of the Men and Companies That Make Our Millions of Guns

      The gun business, as a business, remains invisible, a secret in the closet of the gun culture.

    • Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?

      There were corporate benefits for the US along the way, of course. Eight NATO countries bought hundreds of F-16s and all the add-ons, for example, and “NATO Standardization” was military code for “Buy American.” The State Department is barefaced about this. Its head of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Andrew J Shapiro, proudly declared that “We view the American defense industry as an integral part of our efforts to advance US national security and foreign policy.” You can’t be more open than that.

    • The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?

      It is difficult to predict what kind of government misstep can seriously tarnish a government’s reputation. Some mistakes have legs and others, inexplicably, seem not to. But the stunningly stupid decision to go ahead with a $15 billion sale of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia has the potential to expose Justin ‘Canada is back’ Trudeau as a phony. Indeed you could hardly design an issue so perfectly fitted to reveal a government with a progressive public face contradicted by a ruthless disregard for human rights. It begs the question as to whether the spin doctors simply misjudged how widespread the public revulsion would be or whether there is something deeper going on. Is it really just about jobs or is there a hard-nosed commitment, inherited from the Conservatives, to a backward Middle East foreign policy?

    • New Risks from Brussels’ ‘Security’

      After a terror attack, Western governments react – or overreact – to show they’re doing something, but often make matters worse, as Belgium’s new layer of security outside Zaventem airport shows, writes Gilbert Doctorow.

    • David Cameron keeps accusing this British citizen of supporting ISIS – but did he?

      David Cameron has been accused of misleading MPs, breaking the ministerial code and smearing a British Muslim by accusing him of supporting Islamic State.

      The Prime Minister accused Imam Suliman Gani of being a supporter of Islamic State during PMQs last month.

      He used the claim to launch a crude and blistering attack on Sadiq Khan , whom he said “shared a platform with him” on nine occasions.

    • Jeremy Corbyn just slated David Cameron over his awful football knowledge
    • David Cameron tried to congratulate Leicester City and people have relentlessly mocked him

      David Cameron has struggled with football teams, historically.

    • A Tale of Two Cities: Muslim Rebels strike back at Hospital in Gov’t held West

      Muslim fundamentalist rebels, including al-Qaeda, took revenge Tuesday on West Aleppo for the heavy government bombardment of East Aleppo that has killed dozens in the past week, including at a hospital run by Doctors without Borders. At the same time that the government was bombarding the slums of the east into yet more rubble, the rebels were lobbing mortar shells over on to the upscale West, also killing dozens over the past week (though probably fewer dozens than the government did).

    • Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO

      Is Russia really a military threat to the United States and its neighbors? Is it seriously trying to “revenge” itself for the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union? Is it actively trying to rebuild the old Soviet empire? The answers to these questions are critical, because, for the first time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, several nuclear-armed powers are on the edge of a military conflict with fewer safeguards than existed 50 years ago.

    • Ending the silence around German colonialism

      Perhaps you have never heard of German colonialism; it is less commonly spoken about than other colonialisms. The most common reasoning for this is that Germany lost its colonies too early for them to be of any significance (by 1918). It is often argued that the empire was short lived, and that it detracts attention from the crimes of the Second World War to discuss it.

    • Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America

      By now it is old news that there is a coup afoot in Brazil and that the right-wing is using extraordinary political measures to overthrow of Dilma Rousseff.

    • The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits

      Even with support from the thousands that pack his speaking engagements, pundits continue to count Bernie Sanders out once the 2016 Democratic National Convention rolls around in July. This rhetoric should not be taken lightly. History reveals how candidates, who are unpopular with their own establishment, have been taken down by the powers-at-be even as they gained popularity in the polls. Green Party presidential frontrunner Dr. Jill Stein noted how this occurred with Dennis Kucinich, who was redistricted out of an election, with Jessie Jackson, who was branded an anti-Semite, and with Howard Dean, who was taken down by a public relations campaign. Despite the back talking, Sanders’ delegate count is the primary predictor of his success in the 2016 primary races. Sanders is trailing in pledged delegates and he must win nearly 95 percent of the remaining delegates to get the democratic nomination. Despite these nail biting odds, Sanders’ supporters have an alternative choice if he falters.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park

      Recently it was reported in the Livingston Enterprise that visitors to Yellowstone National Park contributed $493.6 million in spending in communities near the park. That spending supported 7,737 jobs.

      And this research does not include all the jobs and income resulting from those with footloose businesses and/or retirement that they bring to communities like Livingston, in part, because people want to live near protected lands like Yellowstone.

    • Celebrity ape selfies harming efforts to curb wildlife trafficking, UN body warns

      Instagram snaps of celebrities including Paris Hilton and James Rodriguez posing with apes in the Gulf are damaging efforts to clamp down on wildlife trafficking and endangering the survival of some species, a UN body has warned.

      New research by the UN’s great apes survival partnership (Grasp) points to an alarming rise in trafficking of orangutans, chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos stolen from the wild, mostly to feed demand from a boom in macabre Chinese circuses.

    • Is Your Governor Or Attorney General A Climate Denier?

      After sweating through the second straight year that earned the title of hottest year on record, new research from the Center for American Progress Action Fund finds that 24 governors and attorneys general publicly deny the reality of climate change. It also gives a comprehensive summary of their records and public views on climate change and energy issues. The 21 governors publicly confirmed as climate deniers is an increase from previous years.

    • Dead zones devour oceans’ oxygen

      Scientists in the US have identified a new hazard in a world in which the climates change and the oceans warm: measurable stretches of the seas could become sapped of oxygen.

      They say that parts of the southern Indian Ocean, the eastern tropical Pacific and the Atlantic are already less oxygen-rich because of global warming. And oxygen deprivation could become increasingly widespread across large regions of ocean between 2030 and 2040.

    • Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga

      The original Hanford Project, which manufactured plutonium for the world’s first atomic bomb and over its forty years of operation produced 63 short tons of plutonium, is now home to the largest environmental clean-up in the country. The place is literally steaming with radioactivity. 56 million gallons of nuclear sludge currently sit in double-walled underground tanks built in the 1970s. This waste is awaiting a plant to be built, known as the Hanford Vit Plant, that can turn the nasty gunk into glass rods. The Vit Plant, to be constructed by Bechtel, continues to run way over its initial budget estimates and keeps being delayed. The plant, if it’s ever completed, will end up costing taxpayers over $30 billion. Meanwhile, those old holding tanks aren’t fail-safe. They continue to be a colossal problem for the environment and workers alike.

    • Reconsider The Almond: California’s Most Infamous Crop Is Trying To Win Back The Public

      When things go wrong — especially if they go really, historically wrong — people tend to look for answers. So when California entered the fourth year of one of the worst droughts the state had ever seen, everyone — the media, politicians, scientists — wanted to know what had gone wrong.

      In the process, a number of things were set upon the altar of public opinion as scapegoats for the drought: lawns, golf courses, wealthy Californians taking more than their fair share of the state’s dwindling resources, climate change. But none provoked the maelstrom that surrounded the almond, which seemingly transformed overnight from a healthy snack to the evil source of California’s water woes.

  • Finance

    • Accounting giant KPMG defends Isle of Man tax practices before House committee

      A senior partner in the global accounting giant KPMG, which has been accused of being behind a tax avoidance scheme in the Isle of Man, says a lot of international tax rules “are broken” — and they need to be fixed.

      Gregory Wiebe, speaking before the House of Commons finance committee on Tuesday, addressed concerns about the “disconnects” between Canada’s tax system and those Canadians may encounter elsewhere. Speaking in the wake of both the Isle of Man reports and the “Panama Papers” revelations, Wiebe said the public has come to question the fairness of global tax systems.

    • Who Says Crime Doesn’t Pay?

      For example, the deal calls for the felonious bank to put a quarter-billion dollars into affordable housing, but generous federal negotiators put incentives and credits in the fine print that will let Goldman escape with paying out less than a third of that. Also, about $2.5 billion of the settlement is to be paid to consumers hurt by the financial crisis. But the deal lets the bank deduct almost a billion of this payout from its corporate taxes – meaning you and I will subsidize Goldman’s payment. As a bank reform advocate puts it, the problem with these settlements “is that they are carefully crafted more to conceal than to reveal to the American public what really happened here.”

      Also, notice that the $5 billion punishment is applied to Goldman Sachs, not the “Goldman Sackers.” The bank’s shareholders have to cough up the penalty, rather than the executives who did the bad deeds. Goldman Sachs’ CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, just awarded himself a $23 million paycheck for his work last year. That work essentially amounted to negotiating the deal with the government that makes shareholders pay for the bankers’ wrongdoings — while he and other top executives keep their jobs and pocket millions. Remember, banks don’t commit crimes — bankers do.

      One more reason Wall Street bankers privately wink and grin at these seemingly huge punishments is that even paying the full $5 billion would only be relatively painful. To you and me, that sounds like a crushing number — but Goldman Sachs raked in $33 billion in revenue last year, so it’s a reasonable cost of doing business. After all, Goldman sold tens of billions of dollars in the fraudulent investment packages leading to the settlement, so the bottom line is that crime can actually pay — if it’s big enough.

    • TTIP’s Looking a Lot Less Likely, But We’re Still Not Safe from Toxic Trade Deals

      Could things get any worse for TTIP? On Monday the hugely damaging leak of consolidated texts confirmed exactly what everyone had feared about the deal, with all its massively pro-corporate provisions on display for everyone to see. And then the following day the French government launched one of the most high profile attacks on TTIP that’s ever been seen.

      Whether TTIP survives these body blows is debateable, but it is almost fatally wounded.

      Francois Hollande, the French president, is lagging in the polls and his threat to block TTIP could be seen as a gambit to shore up some votes. But it is a reflection of the popular mood in the country, where the media’s negative reporting on TTIP has soared in the past fortnight. Hollande said at a conference that he could not accept “the undermining of the essential principles of our agriculture, our culture, of mutual access to public markets.”

    • TTIP expected to fail after US demands revealed in unprecedented leak

      Bernd Lange, the chairman of the European Parliament’s important trade committee, has indicated that he now expects the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations will probably fail, following a major leak of confidential documents from the talks.

      Greenpeace Netherlands has released half of the entire TTIP draft text as of April 2016, prior to the start of the 13th round of TTIP negotiations between the EU and the US, which reveal US demands in detail for the first time.

      Although the EU has improved transparency recently, and routinely publishes its offers for each TTIP chapter, the US has consistently refused to do so. Even MEPs and MPs have faced extreme restrictions on what they are allowed to look at, copy, or even say when it comes to the US position. The new leak by an unknown whistleblower represents a major blow to US attempts to keep its negotiating demands confidential, and provides important information to the both the EU and US public for the first time.

    • Greenpeace Publishes Leaked TTIP Documents… Show How Backroom Deals Are Driven By Lobbyists

      We’ve written plenty of stories about the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership) agreement being worked on between the US and the EU. Think of it as the companion to the TPP, which covers the US and a variety of countries around the Pacific ocean. Like the TPP, the US has demanded extreme levels of secrecy around the negotiations (in the past, the US negotiating body, the USTR, has admitted that the more the public is aware of the details, the less likely they are to support the agreement). And while there have been reports out of the EU arguing that negotiators there are more willing to be more open about the negotiations, so far, the US has not allowed it. This has resulted in some crazy situations including secretive “reading rooms” where politicians are carefully guarded if they look at the current drafts — and where they’re not allowed to bring any device or copy anything from the documents.

    • TTIP—American Economic Imperialism

      Greenpeace has done that part of the world whose representatives are so corrupt or so stupid as to sign on to the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic “partnerships” a great service. Greenpeace secured and leaked the secret TTIP documents that Washington and global corporations are pushing on Europe. The official documents prove that my description of these “partnerships” when they first appeared in the news is totally correct.

      These so-called “free trade agreements” are not trade agreements. The purpose of the “partnerships,” which were drafted by global corporations, is to make corporations immune to the laws of soverign countries in which they do business. Any country’s sovereign law whether social, environmental, food safety, labor protections—any law or regulation—that impacts a corporation’s profits is labeled a “restraint on trade.” The “partnerships” permit corporations to file a suit that overturns the law or regulation and also awards the corporation damages paid by the taxpayers of the country that tried to protect its environment or the safety of its food and workers.

    • McDonald’s, the Corporate Welfare Moocher

      But the Times noted another interesting and crucial point, one that is seldom discussed: Namely, the issue of what is often called corporate welfare.

      While the conservative right is content to shame poor mothers for receiving federal assistance, rarely do they dare call, say, General Electric or Walmart “welfare queens,” despite the fact that they receive enormous direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies year after year.

      This is true for McDonald’s, as well: The Times observes, “Through it all, taxpayers continue to pick up the difference between what fast-food workers earn and what they need to survive. An estimated $1.2 billion a year in taxpayer dollars goes toward public aid to help people who work at McDonald’s.”

    • Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve

      Andrew Levin, professor at Dartmouth College and former special adviser to former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke and then-Vice Chair Janet Yellen, released a proposal for reform of the Federal Reserve Board’s governing structure in a press call sponsored by the Fed Up campaign. The proposal has a number of important features, but the main point is to make the Fed more accountable to democratically elected officials and to reduce the power of the banking industry in monetary policy.

    • Economist Paul Craig Roberts: Greece Must Leave the Eurozone to Regain Its Sovereignty

      In Greece, the Syriza-led coalition government is now set to agree to new rounds of cuts and privatizations demanded by the country’s lenders. Prior to its initial election in January 2015, Syriza had promised to abolish the country’s loan agreements and austerity policies. Now, unemployment remains at record levels, and the young and educated continue to leave the country, while recent large-scale privatizations such as the sell-off of the port of Piraeus have been pushed through.

      Paul Craig Roberts, a former undersecretary of the US Treasury and former Wall Street Journal editor, agreed to share his thoughts on the recent developments in Greece. The author of over a dozen books and numerous journal articles, Roberts regularly analyzes global economic conditions and geopolitics in his writing. In this interview, which has been lightly edited, he discusses how countries are indebted and forced to accept austerity, as well as current US economic conditions and the presidential election.

    • Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?

      Has the U.S. economy therefore come to a halt the past three months? If so, what are the consequences for a global economy already progressively slowing? What will an apparently stagnating US economy mean for Japan, already experiencing its fifth recession since 2008? For Europe, stuck in a long term chronic stagnation? And for emerging market economies, struggling with collapsing commodity prices and currencies, rising unemployment, and long term capital flight trends? Once heralded as the only bright spot in the global economy, the US economy now appears to have joined the slowing global trend.

    • What Good Are Hedge Funds?

      Hedge funds make big returns by manipulating markets in ways that are illegal for small investors. Remind us: Why are they permitted?

    • Wall Street Stock Loans Drain $1 Billion a Year From German Taxpayers

      German companies are known for paying some of the heftiest dividends among world stocks, one reason U.S. investment giants such as BlackRock and Vanguard are among the biggest holders of German shares.

      But Wall Street has figured out a way to squeeze some extra income from these stocks. And German taxpayers pay for it.

      A cache of confidential documents obtained by ProPublica and analyzed in collaboration with The Washington Post, German broadcaster ARD and the Handelsblatt newspaper in Düsseldorf details how Wall Street puts together complex stock-lending deals that drain an estimated $1 billion a year from the German treasury.

      Similar deals extend beyond Germany, siphoning revenue from at least 20 other countries across four continents, according to the documents, which show how “dividend-arbitrage” transactions — known in the trade as “div-arb” — are structured and marketed as tax-avoidance vehicles.

    • Trickle-Down Economics Has Ruined the Kansas Economy

      Republicans have long sung the praises of trickle-down economics: Just cut taxes, and the economy will flourish as companies and individuals use the windfall to boost investment and create jobs. But a grand experiment in implementing those policies at the state level has revealed a far less rosy reality—and the consequences are threatening to spark a civil war among Republicans.

    • Crying Rape: Trump’s Slurs Against China

      Describing China as “raping” the US economy embraces inaccuracy and distaste. This has not bothered him before and it is unlikely that he will lose any sleep over it. But shrugging our shoulders and rolling our eyes upward at yet another example of his crassness seems a totally inadequate response.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Twitter erupts as BBC struggle to keep Tory Election Fraud under wraps until after May elections

      Despite the furore that Channel 4’s investigation has created, there has been virtually no other coverage from the mainstream media of this deeply undemocratic scandal. And Twitter was rightly outraged at the lack of coverage.

    • Tories accused of trying to fix next election as millions disappear from electoral register

      The Tories have been accused of trying to “fix” the next election after new figures show millions of people have fallen off the electoral register.

      In some constituencies, nearly half those eligible to vote are no longer on the electoral roll, the House of Commons Library has found.

      But the Government is pushing through boundary changes as it cuts the number of MPs from 650 to 600 based on the number on the register, not those eligible to vote.

      The library figures show the majority of those who have fallen off the electoral roll are in Labour areas.

    • Conservatives alleged election overspend: the full documents

      Notts Police ask to see records of Tory by-election expenses declaration & returns following our investigation into undisclosed spending across three by-elections and a key General Election marginal.

      Evidence obtained by Channel 4 News appears to show that the Conservatives racked up tens of thousands of pounds in undisclosed spending across three by-elections in 2014.

    • BREAKING: Ted Cruz Drops Out, Handing Nomination To Trump

      Ted Cruz dropped out of the presidential race today after badly losing Indiana, a state that he staked his campaign on, to Donald Trump.

    • President Trump
    • Bernie Sanders wins Indiana primary in an upset

      Sanders continues to run strong with younger voters — 72 percent of 17 to 29 year olds support him. Clinton performs well among older voters — 60 percent of people over the age of 65.

    • Sanders upsets Clinton in Indiana
    • Sanders Upsets Clinton in Indiana

      But Tuesday’s win means Sanders is likely to keep trekking on, at least until California votes on June 7. His campaign has outpaced Clinton in donations in recent months, so he has the funds to keep things going until the end of the process. The longer he sticks around, the more leverage he might gain for extracting concessions from Clinton to include his pet policies in the party platform at this summer’s Democratic convention.

    • This CNN Exchange Demonstrates The Absurdly Low Standards For Donald Trump

      During previous primary night speeches, Donald Trump called the media “disgusting,” was flanked by fringe right-wing figures who are mostly remembered for saying ridiculous and offensive things, and broadsided Hillary Clinton with sexist attacks.

      But on Tuesday, fresh off a dominating victory in Indiana that prompted Ted Cruz to suspend his campaign and all but sealed that Trump will be the Republican nominee for president, the billionaire toned things down a bit.

      While he did make up the word “bigly” and elicited groans by saying, “I love winning with women,” for the most part Trump steered clear of controversy and attempted to portray himself as a magnanimous winner. For instance, just hours after calling Ted Cruz a “wacko” on Twitter, Trump had kind words for his defeated rival, describing him as “one hell of a competitor” who has a “beautiful family.” (In March, Trump retweeted a meme suggesting Cruz’s wife Heidi isn’t attractive.)

    • After Indiana Win Sanders Declares: ‘I Say We Keep Fighting. Are You with Me?’

      Proving that U.S. voters are still energenized to go to the polls to voice their support for “political revolution,” Bernie Sanders won the Indiana primary on Tuesday night – besting rival Hillary Clinton and notching a much-needed victory as the corporate media and political class continues to discount his chances and downplay the accomplishments of the campaign.

    • 5 Reasons Bernie Sanders Wins Big With Cruz Dropout

      Sanders was already looking strong in Oregon, West Virginia, Montana, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Dakota, and California, but given that he’s within single digits in New Jersey (where Trump is very popular) and performed incredibly well with nonwhite voters in Indiana (meaning New Mexico could be in play), it’s not unthinkable that Hillary Clinton could lose all of the remaining primaries and caucuses and therefore as many as thirteen or fourteen contests in a row to finish the Democratic primary season.

    • Bukit Batok by-election: Highlights for May 3

      “They jailed me, sued me, made me a bankrupt, but I’m still standing,” he said.

      Before ending the speech, he told the crowd he had walked with his head held high, and that he had grown stronger with every attack.

    • This isn’t public policy: the prelude to the BBC White Paper

      Debate about the BBC’s Charter Review has been dominated by leaks and rumours that ultimately play into the hands of commercial lobbyists. Where are the voices of licence-fee payers?

    • Need a Fix of Tanta-Rants? Andrea Tantaros’ 8 Stupidest Moments
    • Let’s Open Up the Democratic Party to Public Participation

      Sometime between now and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia, there will almost certainly be a deal between the Sanders forces and the Clinton forces. The $64,000 question is: What are the forces of progress going to get out of the deal?

      Here’s what I hope will be in the deal: a set of agreements to make the Democratic Party more democratic — in particular, to make the party more transparent and accountable to the public.

    • Help Bernie Keep His Halo

      The main victim is the Republican Party; Hillary Clinton expects a blowout victory. Her husband won against a fractured Republican Party with 43% of the votes in 1992 and 68% of the Electoral College. Ross Perot had 19,743,821 votes—18.91% and NO electoral votes. Having Bernie Sanders run as a Green Party candidate would represent a radical change. Suddenly, the Democrats would be the party in trouble.

    • Trump aide: Cameron should apologize for Trump comments

      British Prime Minister David Cameron should apologize for his description of Donald Trump as “divisive, stupid and wrong,” said an adviser to the presidential hopeful.

      The call came as the billionaire businessman all but clinched the Republican U.S. presidential nomination after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz bowed out of the race after a defeat in Indiana.

    • It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia

      Unfortunately, the pundits are right about the mathematics. Sanders would need more than 64% of remaining delegates to take the lead. It would require a political bombshell to turn things around, especially with so many closed primaries where independents are shut out of this rigged process. And even with a majority, Bernie would still face the undemocratic brick wall of the establishment’s hand-picked crew of superdelegates.

    • Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!

      Confident that she has the Democratic nomination pretty much locked down and turning toward a general election contest against Donald Trump, Secretary Clinton’s surrogates and paid Internet trolls are targeting Sanders devotees via email and seeding comment threads on political websites with a low-key sales pitch.

    • Bernie Sanders Wins Indiana – And The Political Debate

      Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist insurgent, won Indiana convincingly Tuesday night – 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent – over Hillary Clinton, the establishment moderate. This is a remarkable victory, a statement of the extent and scope of the Sanders surge.

    • Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon

      Bernie Sanders’ defeats in the East Coast primaries have triggered a flurry of conversation about what the 25 to 35% of Sanders supporters who’ve told pollsters they will not vote for Hillary Clinton will do instead. Socialist Alternative, led by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, and others have called for Sanders to found an independent left party for the 99% and run as an independent, or to appeal to Jill Stein and the Green Party to join their ticket, despite his oft repeated promise to endorse the Democrats’ nominee.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Censorship And Self-Censorship In Times Of Crisis

      Whether it’s about Syrian refugees, Syria or Iraq, the truth is sometimes better left unsaid. It all depends on the country in which it is said. One thing is certain: In these troubled times, censorship and self-censorship are thriving.

    • It was a great year for censorship

      Newsrooms attacked with grenades in Burundi, journalists getting fired over a tweet in Turkey, heavy propaganda in China, Russia, Eritrea, a blogger sentenced to prison and whipping in a public place in Saudi Arabia, and there’s even some being sent to military camps for journalists in Thailand. Scary stuff. We need more awareness like this, but we also need a way to do something about it. What this campaign has going for it is the fact it was created in France where they have the freedom. The question becomes how do you make sure people in the oppressed countries also see it. Solidarity is sometimes as important as awareness. I also think it could be a better idea if you managed to get people in the countries where press is restricted to actually see something like this.

    • Why The Growing Unpredictability Of China’s Censorship Is A Feature, Not A Bug

      China’s vaguely-defined web content rules and inconsistent censorship enforcement work the same way as the fog near a cliff: since people can’t see exactly where the edge is, they’re more likely to stay far away from it, just in case. There’s no toeing the line, because nobody knows exactly where the line is. So instead of pushing the envelope, many people choose to censor themselves.

      In order to ensure that margin of safety, people will tend to censor themselves more than is necessary according to the stated rules. If the line in the sand were well defined, they could step right up to it, fairly secure that they will be safe provided they don’t cross. In effect, by introducing an unnerving element of uncertainty into its actions, China obtains a more stringent self-censorship on the part of its citizens than it would from formally applying well-defined rules through official channels.

    • Malinauskas: Censoring profanity is ineffective at purifying content

      Self-censorship is the most effective route to protecting youthful innocence. Content makers are aware of their audiences; they should have the decency to keep content clean if it is likely to be seen or heard by children. However, content dealing with mature subject matter shouldn’t be cleansed of curse words while still retaining information on adult subjects. It’s a half-measure which ultimately is ineffective.

    • Artist/Internet Troll BeigeType Talks Disgust, Cyberbullying And Censorship

      Artist/self-proclaimed troll Karim Boumjimar is the creative force behind the BeigeType Instagram, a bizarrely beautiful collection of off-kilter, visceral visuals and digitally-altered nudes that take the practice of self-portraiture to a whole new level. Exploring the union between the mind and the body through the use of materials as disparate as blood oranges to used cigarette butts, we were instantly enamored with his eccentric, polarizing approach to depictions of the body on such a public platform. As such, we spoke to Boumjimar himself about everything from Internet narcissism to Instagram censorship, and, of course, how hater drama makes everything a little more interesting.

    • ERR: Trolls, hate speech and crowd censorship seminar takes place in Tallinn

      Themes of the seminar included the impact of aggressive online discussion on press freedom, the impact of internet “trolling” on targeted journalists, and the spread of crowd censorship and the potential threat it poses to freedom of speech and democracy.

      Jessikka Aro discussed how her investigation into the phenomenon of pro-Russian online trolling quickly found her a target of online attacks and abuse herself, including international harassment, smear campaigns, and dissemination of her personal information.

    • There’s No Room for Censorship in a Democracy
    • Censors should not be allowed to cut scenes in films: Shyam Benegal
    • Benegal panel’s suggestion to allow CBFC to take last call on films on state security leaves scope for misuse: Filmmakers
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • When Traffic Cops Become Part of Immigration Enforcement, Civil Rights Violations Are Almost Inevitable

      Whether they like it or not, state and local police do not have the authority to enforce immigration law. And that’s a good thing, because when cops try to act like Border Patrol agents, civil rights violations are almost inevitable. An ever expanding number of lawsuits across the country bear that out.

      This issue gained national notoriety in 2007 in Maricopa County, Arizona, where Sheriff Joe Arpaio instructed police officers to conduct immigration checks during traffic stops, specifically targeting Latinos. The ACLU sued, and Arpaio’s department was found liable for widespread rights violations.

    • Forced Arbitration Is a Bad Deal

      What are you really agreeing to when you select “I agree” on a click-through contract? Whether you know it or not, you’re often agreeing to waive a host of fundamental rights. Want to buy a new mobile device? Click on an agreement that says you won’t modify the software on it. Going to the dentist? Sign a contract waiving your right to leave negative reviews online.

      While these contracts are unfair to customers in virtually any context, they’re particularly appalling when we’re talking about basic needs like Internet access. You shouldn’t have to waive your rights just to get online, but virtually every telecommunications provider includes a clause in its customer agreement forbidding you from exercising one of the most basic constitutional rights: the right to take them to court.

    • Why Activists Today Should Still Care About the 40-Year-Old Church Committee Report

      The Church Committee Report reveals the lengths the government was willing to go in order to crush grassroots activism and spy on American citizens.

    • Writing as an Act of Generosity

      Every now and then, I teach a class to young would-be journalists and one of the first things I talk about is why I consider writing an act of generosity. As they are usually just beginning to stretch their writerly wings, their task, as I see it, is to enter the world we’re already in (it’s generally the only place they can afford to go) and somehow decode it for us, make us see it in a new way. And who can deny that doing so is indeed an act of generosity? But for the foreign correspondent, especially in war zones, the generosity lies in the very act of entering a world filled with dangers, a world that the rest of us might not be capable of entering, or for that matter brave enough to enter, and somehow bringing us along with them.

    • Telling the Truth Is Not A Crime
    • Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”

      Five hunger strikers – angered by new police murders of Black and brown people – have been occupying half the sidewalk in front of Mission Police Station since April 21. It’s Day 11 of their liquid-only fast and they’re losing weight, but they vow to keep it up until SF Police Chief Greg Suhr resigns or is fired.

    • Racists Flip Out About Malia Obama and Interracial Couple—Internet Responds Spectacularly

      The internet has always been a place where racists can go to register their hatred while bravely hiding behind a cloak of digital anonymity. That’s been extra true over the last 48 hours, as racist trolls—self-loathing sacks of shit who live in perpetual fear of their own inferiority—have logged on to share their reactions to news and images involving black people. Unsurprisingly, Fox News is involved.

    • Brickbat: Cool, Clear Water

      The city council of San Antonio on the island of Ibiza has banned all drinking on the street. Council members say the move is aimed at deterring people from drinking alcohol and causing problems. But the ban applies to all liquids, since authorities say police can’t just look at a glass and tell what’s in it.

    • Boycott Is the Only Way to Stop the Israeli Occupation

      Aluf Benn’s proposal for Israel’s left to establish a base of domestic support for its positions is hopeless considering the brainwashing and increasing extremism of our society.

    • The Cruel and Pointless Push to Get Preschoolers ‘College and Career Ready’

      In case you missed it, April 21 was officially Kindergarten Day. This obscure holiday honors the birth of Friedrich Frobel, who started the first Children’s Garden in Germany in 1837. Of course, life has changed tremendously in the 179 years since Frobel created his play-based, socialization program to transition young children from home to school — and so, too, has school itself. But what hasn’t changed in all this time, not one iota, is the developmental trajectory of the preschoolers Frobel was thinking about when he created what we now call kindergarten.

      Frobel, a German teacher, strongly believed that children learn through play and by using open-ended materials like blocks, which he called “gifts.” His approach was a radical departure from the way children were viewed and taught at the time. Prior to Frobel, children were thought of as mini-adults who were educated through lectures and rote recitation. How ironic that today kindergarteners, and even preschoolers, are once again being subjected to these inappropriate methods of instruction. This despite all we have learned about child development in the 20th and 21st centuries.

    • Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides

      The Freedom Riders drew inspiration from the Journey of Reconciliation in 1947, led by Bayard Rustin and George Houser. The Freedom Rides campaigns followed on the heels of the highly visible lunch counter sit-in campaigns that began in 1960. Diane Nash, a veteran of the Nashville, Tennessee, campaign, was one of the lead organizers of the Freedom Rides, and it was at her urging that the demonstrators persevered through the extreme violence, carrying on to success despite life-threatening situations.

    • Suspect Held in Solitary for Seven Months for Forgetting Hard Drive Passwords

      Innocent until proven guilty? Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination? Hah! Not if you forget your passwords, in Post-Constitutional America.

      Former Philadelphia Police Sergeant Francis Rawls, above, has spent the past seven months in solitary confinement without conviction because passwords he entered for investigators failed to decrypt his hard drives, seized in connection with a child porn investigation. Rawls says he’s forgotten the correct passwords and so can’t decrypt the drives and provide the cops with evidence that he possessed child porn.

    • Angela Davis and asha bandele: Getting People out of Prison Is Just the Start to Solving America’s Incarceration Crisis

      The United States is locking up and dehumanizing its people at extraordinary rates. Just over 4 percent of the world’s population lives in the U.S., yet we hold captive within our borders a whopping 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. This gives the U.S. the largest prisoner population in the world. And that population is growing, though not for any noble reason, like “crime is on the rise” (au contraire). It’s growing because of the same sleaze that’s behind most of our country’s problems: giant corporations are incentivizing, and profiting from the expansion of the prisons industry.

    • Louisiana May Stop Funneling Teenagers Into Adult Prisons

      In 2007, after white students hung nooses on a tree the day after a black student sat beneath it, racial tensions boiled over at Jena High School in Louisiana. Soon after the incident, a white student was beaten by a group of black students dubbed the Jena 6 — all of whom were arrested and charged with attempted murder instead of assault.

      Theodore Shaw was one of the Jena 6, but he always maintained his innocence. As a 17-year-old at the time, he was locked up with adult criminals for seven months because his family couldn’t afford his bail. And throughout the duration of his incarceration, he fought hard to convince himself that he wasn’t a criminal.

    • Who’s behind unpaid prison labor in Texas?

      Several of the officials charged with regulating Texas’s prison labor program, wherein thousands of workers behind bars are compelled to produce goods and provide services for free, are connected to some of the richest and most powerful institutions and people in the state.

      The Texas Board of Criminal Justice, which oversees Texas Correctional Industries (TCI), the prison industry division within the state’s Department of Criminal Justice, has authority over how much compensation inmates working for the state receive for their labor. Currently, inmates working for TCI are not paid for the work done while serving their time; the only inmates who are paid anything are the small fraction who are employed by TCI’s private sector prison industries program.

    • Catching a Flight? Budget Hours, Not Minutes, for Security

      Security lines at airports are getting longer — much longer — and wait times could reach epidemic levels when air travel peaks this summer, according to airlines, airports and federal officials.

      A combination of fewer Transportation Security Administration screeners, tighter budgets, new checkpoint procedures and growing numbers of passengers is already creating a mess at airports around the country.

      While federal security officials say they are hiring and training hundreds of additional screening officers, matters are not expected to improve anytime soon.

      Airline and airport officials have said they fear that the current slowdown will last through the year, and could cause a summer travel meltdown when more than 220 million passengers are expected to fly during the peak travel months of July and August.

      “This is going to be a rough summer; there is no doubt about it,” said Gary Rasicot, who was recently appointed to a newly created position as the T.S.A.’s chief of operations. “We are probably not at the staffing level we would like to be to address the volume. This is why we are talking about people getting to the airport a little earlier than planned.”

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Web accessibility to be law in Europe—deal struck after lengthy talks

      A political deal to make public sector websites more accessible—particularly to those with disabilities—was agreed by the three European Union institutions on Tuesday.

      In a late night deal, the parliament, council, and commission backed Europe-wide rules to make public bodies’ websites and mobile apps more user-friendly for the blind, the deaf, and the hard of hearing.

      At present, around 80 million people in the EU are affected by a disability, according to the commission. But that figure is expected to rise to 120 million by 2020 due to an ageing population.

      The Internet has become an essential method of communication, so the deal aims to make sure that citizens of all capabilities can access public administrations, including courts, police departments, public hospitals, universities, schools, and libraries.

    • Congress Has No Idea How The FCC’s Cable Box Reform Plan Works, Conyers, Goodlatte Compare Effort To ‘Popcorn Time’

      As we’ve been discussing, the FCC is cooking up a plan to bring much-needed competition to the cable set top box market. As a fact sheet being circulated by the agency (pdf) notes, the FCC hopes to force cable operators to offer their existing cable lineups to third party hardware — without the need of a pesky CableCARD. This would obviously disrupt the $21 billion in annual, captive set top rental fees enjoyed by the industry, and the competitive set top box market that emerges would likely drive more users than ever to alternative streaming options.

      As such, the cable industry has been having a monumental hissy fit. This has ranged from threatening lawsuits to publishing an absolute ocean of misleading editorials in news outets nationwide, claiming the FCC’s plan would destroy consumer privacy, increase piracy, hurt programming diversity, and make little children cry.

  • DRM

    • Yes, All DRM

      Everybody knows that the digital locks of DRM on the digital media you own is a big problem. If you’ve bought a digital book, album, or movie, you should be able to do what you want with it—whether that’s enjoying it wherever you want to, or making it more accessible by changing the font size or adding subtitles, or loaning or giving it to a friend when you’re done. We intuitively recognize that digital media should be more flexible than its analog forebears, not less, and that DRM shouldn’t take away rights that copyright was never intended to restrict.

      But while it may not be as intuitive yet, DRM on digital media that you don’t own is also a major threat. Whether it’s books from the public library, streaming songs from Spotify, or TV shows from Netflix, wrapping media in DRM software—especially when it brings with it a cloud of legal uncertainty—is not just a bad way to enforce license contracts; it’s also a danger to our rights and our security.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Recent Federal Circuit Decision in Acorda Therapeutics v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals May Not be the Last Word on Personal Jurisdiction in ANDA Cases

      Mylan filed two separate ANDAs with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) seeking permission to market generic versions of unrelated pharmaceutical products marketed by Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. and AstraZeneca AB under the statutory scheme outlined in the Hatch-Waxman Act (the “Act”). As permitted under the Act, Mylan certified that the patents of the brand name drug companies listed in the FDA’s Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations (“the Orange Book”) were either invalid or would not be infringed by Mylan’s marketing of its proposed generic versions of the drugs. Each certification is deemed an artificial act of infringement under the Act, and permits the brand name drug companies to sue the generic drug company. Acorda and AstraZeneca sued Mylan for patent infringement in separate lawsuits filed in Delaware. Mylan moved to dismiss in both cases, arguing that it was not subject to either general or specific personal jurisdiction.[4]


      Regardless of the Federal Circuit’s final ruling, the losing party may very well file a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court seeking review of the Federal Circuit’s decision. That Acorda and Mylan were represented at the Federal Circuit by former Solicitor Generals (Theodore Olson for Acorda and Paul Clement for Mylan), while AstraZeneca was represented by another Supreme Court veteran (Kannon Shanmugam), shows that each party considers this case to be important and that they are likely preparing to ask the Supreme Court to consider the matter. So the panel decision in Acorda appears to be merely the beginning of the appellate proceedings. Given these expected actions it will be interesting to see if the brand name drug companies continue to file suits in both the brand name drug company’s preferred jurisdiction as well as where the generic drug company is incorporated or has its principal place of business until all the Acorda appellate proceedings are concluded.

    • Citing “Toxic” Environment, US Congress Members Urge Secretary Kerry To Get UN Report On Gurry

      WIPO Director General Francis Gurry was investigated after charges were levelled by a deputy director that he wrongfully ordered DNA samples to be taken from several unknowing staff members, and that he improperly influenced a WIPO contract to steer it toward a particular businessman. The congressional members said Gurry is “engaging in a lobbying effort to prevent disclosure of the report or to have the report heavily redacted.” Redacted means sections are blacked out.

    • Trademarks

      • Appeals Court Says Trademark Bully/HIV Denialist Must Pay Defendant’s Legal Fees

        Almost three years ago, a team of pro bono attorneys (D. Gill Sperlein, Paul Alan Levy, Gary Krupkin and Neal Hoffman) took up the defense of Jeffrey DeShong, an HIV-positive blogger who had been served a bogus trademark infringement lawsuit by Clark Baker, a retired LAPD officer who spends his free time defending people who have hidden their HIV-positive status from sexual partners.

        Baker had no legal basis for his claims, but was obviously hoping airy claims of Lanham Act violations based on URL similarities would be all that was needed to shut up a vocal critic. He was wrong. The lawsuit was tossed in the pleading stages by the district court and that decision was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Bay Founder Aims to Disrupt Online Advertising Industry

        After disrupting the entertainment industry with The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde now hopes to do the same with the advertisement business. Today, Sunde’s micropayment service Flattr teamed up with Adblock Plus, offering publishers a way to get paid without having to show annoying ads.

      • French National Assembly Votes (Sorta) To Finally Kill Its Three Strikes Hadopi Program

        Remember Hadopi? Back when the legacy copyright players were totally focused on kicking individuals off the internet via a “three strikes” program, France and its former President Nicolas Sarkozy, married to a musician, was the first to embrace the idea of kicking casual file sharers off the internet (we’ll leave aside the fact that Sarkozy was a mass infringer himslef). The program that was built up around the plan was eventually called Hadopi, and created a big bureaucracy to send out threat notices. The program turned out to be a complete disaster. It issued many notices, but really had to massage the numbers to make its activities look reasonable. Even when people did lose their internet access, there were problems. A detailed academic study of Hadopi found that it was a miserable failure that actually resulted in an increase in infringement.


Links 3/5/2016: Mozilla Firefox 46.0.1, More Jolla Funding

Posted in News Roundup at 6:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Contributing to open source software with Ian Varley of Salesforce

    With open source, you’re expanding the sphere of people who might potentially care a lot about your code. You find others who have similar problems, and who can leverage your work and maybe even extend it. The knowledge that you’ve helped someone avoid “rebuilding the wheel” is really gratifying, and it’s amplified when those people actually start getting so involved that they give you contributions of code or ideas. The project picks up steam, and you might even get unforeseen help tackling those issues you didn’t have bandwidth to tackle yourself. Really, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Why open source is growing – and dying – at the same time

    So, how come 90%-98% of all open source code is thrown away after 12 months?

  • ownCloud 9.0.2 Released with Lower-Severity Security Patches and Hardenings

    A few moments ago, May 3, 2016, ownCloud Inc. announced the general availability of multiple maintenance releases for all of its supported branches of the ownCloud self-hosting cloud server.

    ownCloud 9.0.2, 8.2.4, 8.1.7, 8.0.12, and 7.0.14 were made available for download for existing users, who are urged to update their installations to these new versions as soon as possible. Thus, they are bringing fixes for reported bugs, as well as various lower-severity security patches and hardenings.

  • Appreciating the full power of open

    Last year was a big year for open source. As Wired put it, 2015 was the year open source software “went nuclear”. More people than ever seem to realize the power of open—not just as a programming methodology, but as a better way to accomplish just about anything.

  • 7 lessons from DuckDuckGo’s Instant Answers project

    DuckDuckGo is a search engine known for putting privacy first for users. So, when we passed 3 billion annual searches last year, we knew it was critical that we continue to serve users without sacrificing their privacy. The key, we realized, was open source.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Releases Firefox 46.0.1 to Fix Bugs and Limit Sync Registration Updates

        Today, May 3, Mozilla has pushed the first point release of the recently launched Firefox 46.0 web browser to all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows.

        Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 46.0 on April 26, 2016, bringing the long-anticipated GTK3 integration for the GNU/Linux platform. Other interesting features are enhanced security for the JavaScript JIT (Just In Time) compiler and improvements to the screen reader behavior with blank spaces for Google Docs.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • As Investment in Apache Spark Continues, SnappyData is a New Beneficiary

      At a regular cadence, startups focusing on Apache Spark are getting significant funding. The latest startup to benefit is SnappyData, based in Oregon, and its investors are heavy hitters too. The company announced that it has secured $3.65 million in Series A funding, led by Pivotal, GE Digital and GTD Capital.

      SnappyData bills itself as “developers of the world’s first in-memory hybrid transactional analytics database built on Apache Spark.” Officials say the funding will allow the company to further invest in engineering and sales. The SnappyData leadership team includes, Richard Lamb, Jags Ramnarayanan and Sudhir Menon, who worked together during their time at Pivotal to build Pivotal GemFire into a widely adopted in-memory data grid product.

    • Google Cloud Dataflow Stacks Up with Spark in Benchmark Tests
  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • If Open Sharing Of Data Is A Great Idea For Combatting A Dangerous Plant Disease, Why Not For All Human Diseases?

      It’s a rather sad state of affairs when publishing concerns and patents are getting in the way of producing treatments and cures for serious human diseases that could improve the lives of millions of people. Protecting crops from wheat blast is, of course, welcome, but is it really the best we can do?

    • Open Data

      • Helsinki to enhance open democracy technologies through a hackathon

        The International Open Data Day brings together citizens and developers in major cities around the world to develop tools and applications based on Open Data. In 2016, Open Data Day took place on the 5-6 March.

      • Dutch government organisations not ready for open data requests

        Dutch government organisations are generally unable to process requests under the new ‘Law for re-use of government information’ in a timely and correct manner. According to inventories made by the Open State Foundation and Open Archives, government at all levels took months to decide on the requests, had problems providing the information in an open and machine-readable format, and failed to forward requests that should be handled by other organisations.

      • Hungarian Post charging high costs to frustrate right to public information

        The issue was brought before Péterfalvi Attila, President of the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, by Tóth Bertalan, Deputy Faction Leader for the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). Tóth argued that citizens are restricted in exercising their right of access to public information if an agency asks that much money for its data.

  • Programming/Development


  • Health/Nutrition

    • Prince’s Death Being Used to Sell Painkiller Panic

      Was Prince addicted to painkillers, and is that what killed him? That’s one of the latest issues surrounding Prince’s sudden and surprising death (along with his failure to have a will). TMZ has tracked down a lot of circumstantial evidence for the possibility, but we probably won’t know Prince’s actual cause of death for a few more weeks.

    • The richest Americans now live 10-15 years longer than the poorest.

      Rich people live longer than poor people. No big news there — we’ve known that health tracks wealth for quite some time now.

      But here’s what we haven’t known: The life-expectancy gap between rich and poor in the United States is actually accelerating.

      Since 2001, American men among the nation’s most affluent 5 percent have seen their lifespans increase by more than two years. American women in that bracket have registered an almost three-year extension to their life expectancy.

      Meanwhile, the poorest five percent of Americans have seen essentially no gains at all.

    • Prominent Democratic Consultants Sign Up to Defeat Single Payer in Colorado

      INFLUENTIAL DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANTS, some of whom work for the Super PACs backing Hillary Clinton, have signed up to fight a bold initiative to create a state-based single-payer system in Colorado, according to a state filing posted Monday.

      Coloradans for Coloradans, an ad-hoc group opposing single payer in Colorado, revealed that it raised $1 million over the first five months of this year. The group was formed to defeat Amendment 69, the ballot measure before voters this year that would change the Colorado constitution and permit a system that would automatically cover every state resident’s health care.

    • The Flint Chess Game: The Politics of the Battlefield

      So far, only a few pawns have been sacrificed, and one minor knight has fallen, in the Machiavellian chessboard game that is being played with the lives of thousands who were poisoned by the water in Flint, Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder has not even been question by state or federal prosecutors. “It will only be through political activism and unrelenting protest that the actual political players will be charged and held accountable.”

    • Lead Water Pipes in 1900 Caused Higher Crime Rates in 1920

      Last year I wrote about a paper that looked at the relationship between childhood lead poisoning and violent crime rates in a whole new way. James Feigenbaum and Christopher Muller compared cities from the early 20th century that installed lead water pipes with those that installed iron pipes, and found that cities with lead pipes had higher homicide rates.

    • Weekly Flint Water Report: April 23-29

      Here is this week’s Flint water report. As usual, I’ve eliminated outlier readings above 2,000 parts per billion, since there are very few of them and they can affect the averages in misleading ways. During the week, DEQ took 450 samples. The average for the past week was 5.50.

    • EPA Using Industry-Funded Research to Determine if Glyphosate Causes Cancer

      Nor is this the first time that the EPA has been caught using biased research to approve of dangerous chemicals. Last November, the Intercept’s Sharon Lerner reported that the agency used Monsanto’s own research to determine that there was “no convincing evidence” glyphosate was an endocrine disruptor.

      An EPA spokesperson said Friday that the document was posted to the website prematurely and was removed “because our assessment is not final,” and that the agency would release a completed, peer-reviewed analysis by the end of 2016.

  • Security

    • Linux Foundation launches badge program to boost open source security

      The Linux Foundation has released the first round of CII Best Practices badges as part of a program designed to improve the quality and security of open-source software.

      Announced on Tuesday, the non-profit said the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), a project which brings tech firms, developers and stakeholders together to create best practice specifications and improve the security of critical open-source projects, has now entered a new stage with the issue of CII badges to a select number of open-source software.

    • Linux Foundation’s Badge Program Launches to Boost Security of Open Source Apps

      Today, May 3, 2016, Linux Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Linux and open source projects, has announced the general availability of its free badge program.

    • Free Badge Program Signals What Open Source Projects Meet Criteria for Security, Quality and Stability
    • How to Conduct Internal Penetration Testing

      The best way to establish how vulnerable your network is to a hacker attack is to subject it to a penetration test carried out by outside experts. (You must get a qualified third party to help with penetration testing, of course, and eSecurity Planet recently published an article on finding the right penetration testing company.)

    • SSH for Fun and Profit

      In May last year, a new attack on the Diffie Hellman algorithm was released, called Logjam. At the time, I was working on a security team, so it was our responsiblity to check that none of our servers would be affected. We ran through our TLS config and decided it was safe, but also needed to check that our SSH config was too. That confused me – where in SSH is Diffie Hellman? In fact, come to think of it, how does SSH work at all? As a fun side project, I decided to answer that question by writing a very basic SSH client of my own.

    • Security advisories for Tuesday
    • Aging and bloated OpenSSL is purged of 2 high-severity bugs

      Maintainers of the OpenSSL cryptographic library have patched high-severity holes that could make it possible for attackers to decrypt login credentials or execute malicious code on Web servers.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘Shadow World’—Investigating the Huge Corruption of the Billion-Dollar Global Arms Trade

      The website for the film explains that, “The film unravels a number of the world’s largest and most corrupt arms deals through those involved in perpetrating and investigating them. It illustrates why this trade accounts for almost 40 percent of all corruption in global trade, and how it operates in a parallel legal universe, in which the national security elite who drive it are seldom prosecuted for their often illegal actions.”

    • Seymour Hersh: The CIA and Media Lied to Us About How Bin Laden Was Killed—What Can We Trust Them About?

      Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh broke the story of the My Lai massacre in 1969. He was the first to report the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison, back in 2004.

    • Five years on, bin Laden doctor languishes in Pakistan jail

      Five years after his fake vaccination programme helped the CIA track and kill Osama bin Laden, Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi languishes in jail, abandoned by the US, say supporters, in its bid to smooth troubled relations with Islamabad.

      Afridi, believed to be in his mid-50s, has no access to a lawyer, and his appeal against a 23-year prison sentence has stalled.

      “I have no hope of meeting him, no expectation for justice,” his elder brother Jamil told AFP.

    • Fatwa against 2 families for denying land for madrasa

      The Mukami panchayat of Deshvaliyan community of Sarwar block of the district issued fatwa against two families and imposed fine of Rs 1,51,000 for denying to part with their land for a ‘social cause’. The fatwa was issued when these families denied to give their one hectare land to the madrasa society. The community went a step ahead and restricted these families from even participating in the mass marriage celebration on May 20 and 21 at Sarwar, and published posters stating the same.

    • Shying Away from 9/11 Evidence

      Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton wrote an opinion piece last week in USAToday, trying to “temper” feelings surrounding the release of “the 28 pages.”

      Kean and Hamilton wrote, “The 28 pages have generated a lot of public speculation over the years and have been described as a ‘smoking gun’ implicating the Saudi government in the deadliest terrorist attack carried out on U.S. soil.”

    • Happy bin Laden Day! CIA ‘Live Tweets’ bin Laden Killing to Celebrate Fifth Anniversary

      Think about how much has changed since that momentous day. In 2011 the U.S. was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, facing the threat of a vicious global terror organization that had already killed Americans. Oh, wait, that looks just like 2016, only now we are also at war in Syria, too, still at war in Afghanistan (16 years in!) and back at war in Iraq. And al Qaeda is known as ISIS, and the Homeland remains a jittery mess on the verge of electing either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, both of whom have enthusiastically endorsed lots more war in the Middle East.

      It’s as if Nothing. Has. Changed.

      Anyway, the CIA’s anniversary tweets open up the idea of live tweeting other American victories. How about a minute-by-minute live tweet of a waterboarding session? Or maybe, for a really special date, a live tweet on August 6 of the Hiroshima bombing?

    • The End of American Iraq: Poor Shiites invade Parliament over corrupt Spoils System

      Baghdad is under a state of emergency on Sunday a day after members of the Sadr Trend stormed the Green Zone and invaded the parliament building, briefly imprisoning parliamentarians in the chamber (and some in a basement) before letting them go. Some apparently were beaten as they left. Most of the protesters, though, were relatively peaceful and had been ordered to avoid violence by their leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. As at Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011, of which the invasion of the Green Zone was a distant echo, they chanted “peacefully, peacefully” ( silmiyyah, silmiyyah).

    • A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan

      On October 22, 1967, Berrigan was arrested for the first time with hundreds of students protesting the war at the Pentagon. “For the first time,” he wrote in his journal in the D.C. Jail, “I put on the prison blue jeans and denim shirt; a clerical attire I highly recommend for a new church.” In February, 1968, he traveled to North Vietnam with Howard Zinn to receive three U.S. Air Force personnel who were being released. While they awaited their meeting with the VietCong, they took cover in a Hanoi shelter as U.S. bombs fell around him. His diary of his trip to North Vietnam, “Night Flight to Hanoi” was published later that year.

    • Chris Hedges on Why Daniel Berrigan’s Most Important Contribution Wasn’t Activism but Writing
    • Father Daniel Berrigan Sought to ‘Build a World Uncursed by War, Starvation, and Exploitation’

      Father Daniel Berrigan, who has died at age 94, was a beautiful man with a beautiful vision that he made real by engaging in radical acts of conscience that sought not merely to end wars but to achieve the justice that has always been essential to peacemaking. Born on the Minnesota Iron Range into a family of trade unionists, he and his brother Philip (who died in 2002) brought to the slowly opening national discourse of the 1960s a deep understanding of the linkages between militarism and imperialism abroad and racism and poverty at home. As they came to prominence as fierce opponents of the Vietnam War, the Berrigan brothers taught generations of Americans to identify intersections of injustice and to get clear of them.

    • Russia declines to ask Syria to halt Bombardment of East Aleppo

      Western Europe wants to see the Baath government of Bashar al-Assad unseated, because it is a seedy one-party state and guilty of massive war crimes. Merkel was speaking for many in the EU in this regard, but not all. Czechia, for instance, sees the Syrian opposition as, if not al-Qaeda, the next thing to al-Qaeda, and so is supporting al-Assad.

    • Paddy Ashdown slams government for refusing entry to Afghan interpreter

      Paddy Ashdown has accused the government of acting dishonourably in the case of an Afghan interpreter who reportedly killed himself while facing deportation from Britain.

      Nangyalai Dawoodzai is understood to have worked for the British army in Afghanistan for three years, before fleeing the country after receiving death threats from the Taliban.

      The 29-year-old, who paid people smugglers to reach the UK, was told his request for asylum in Britain had been rejected when it was found he had been fingerprinted in Italy on arrival in Europe, according to the Daily Mail.

      Under the EU’s Dublin regulation, aimed at preventing multiple asylum claims by individuals, Dawoodzai had to pursue his claim in the first country he applied in.

    • The American Jewish scholar behind Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal breaks his silence

      Once the Nazi holocaust became the cultural referent, then, if you wanted to touch a nerve regarding Palestinian suffering, you had to make the analogy with the Nazis, because that was the only thing that resonated for Jews. If you compared the Palestinians to Native Americans, nobody would give a darn. In 1982, when I and a handful of other Jews took to the streets of New York to protest Israel’s invasion of Lebanon (up to 18,000 Lebanese and Palestinians were killed, overwhelmingly civilians), I held a sign saying, ‘This son of survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Auschwitz, Maijdenek will not be silent: Israeli Nazis – Stop the Holocaust in Lebanon!’. (After my mother died, I found a picture of me holding that sign in a drawer among her keepsakes). I remember, as the cars drove past, one of the guys protesting with me kept saying, ‘hold the sign higher!’ (And I kept replying, ‘easy for you to say!’).

    • The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror

      Bernie’s politics, however, are a revival of FDR’s New Deal. He seeks to empower poor and working people (regardless of so-called “race”) to participate in the process of freeing our society from the control of the big rich by voting for a candidate of the Democratic Party. Whether he can do this from inside that Wall Street-dominated party is questionable. Even if by some miracle he overcame the power of Wall Street and the corporate media to become president, he would have to work within the institutions established in our history to ensure the rule of capital and its minions.

      Meanwhile, on the right, the Republican Party has been using its “Southern Strategy” since Richard Nixon to divide people by making veiled racist appeals, coupled with reactionary “culture wars” ideas and attacks on abortion and women’s rights; they continue to deny global warming while promulgating policies that de-regulate any governmental oversight of corporate power and hand over large tax cuts to the already wealthy. Recently we are also seeing a more open revival of the kind of racist and fascist movements that have always lurked beneath the surface in the post-Civil War U.S. Older organizations like the Ku Klux Klan are now being joined by Neo-Nazis—both with long histories of racist murder and genocide. And for this election, the Republicans have fielded a candidate in Donald Trump who has put aside the usual veiled racist appeals and is openly signaling his affinity with these white supremacist organizations.

    • Donald Trump in South Sudan

      The world’s youngest nation, South Sudan gained its independence in 2011 and just two and a half years later plunged into civil war. Since then, an estimated 50,000 to 300,000 people have been killed in a conflict pitting President Salva Kiir, a member of the country’s largest tribe, the Dinka, against Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer and the vice president he sacked in July 2013. That December, a fight between Dinka and Nuer troops set off the current crisis, which then turned into a slaughter of Nuers by Kiir’s forces in Juba. Reprisals followed as Machar’s men took their revenge on Dinkas and other non-Nuers in towns like Bor and Bentiu. The conflict soon spread, splintering into local wars within the larger war and birthing other violence that even a peace deal signed last August and Machar’s recent return to the government has been unable to halt.

      The signature feature of this civil war has been its preferred target: civilians. It has been marked by massacres, mass rape, sexual slavery, assaults of every sort, extrajudicial killings, forced displacement of local populations, disappearances, abductions, torture, mutilations, the wholesale destruction of villages, pillaging, looting, and a host of other crimes.

    • “A Moral Giant”: A Democracy Now! Special on the Life & Legacy of Father Daniel Berrigan
    • Bernie Sanders should push for a new realism in foreign policy

      Donald Trump’s formal foreign policy address last week hurled a stick into the hive of the foreign policy establishment. Republican and Democrat foreign policy mavens erupted and buzzed around to attack the intruder. Anyone not reading the text would think it was a contradictory spewing of nonsense, another in the long line of Trump outrages. In fact, the reaction to the speech was far more revealing than Trump’s address itself.

    • The Pentagon Shouldn’t Get to Absolve Itself for Bombing a Hospital

      No war crime, despite the U.S. military having full knowledge of the hospital’s location before the bombing. No war crime, despite desperate hospital staffers calling military liaison officers while the rampage was underway. No war crime, despite their calls being routed without response through layers of lethal bureaucracy for an hour or more as the deadly bombing continued.

    • “The Assassination Complex”: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Probe Secret US Drone Wars in New Book

      As the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it has killed in drone strikes in countries that lie outside of conventional war zones, we look at a new book out today that paints a very different picture of the U.S. drone program. “The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program” is written by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, and based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. The documents undermine government claims that drone strikes have been precise. Part of the book looks at a program called Operation Haymaker in northeastern Afghanistan. During one five-month period, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The book is based on articles published by The Intercept last year. It also includes new contributions from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and The Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. We speak with Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A Setback in Longmont Will Only Lead to More Victories

      We must keep up the pressure on decision-makers to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

    • Backtracking on Clean Energy, Clinton Turns Chameleon on Coal

      Campaigning in Appalachia on Monday, Hillary Clinton claimed she “misspoke” when previously declaring her opposition to coal, telling voters that as president she would work to ensure that the dirtiest of the fossil fuels will “continue to be sold and continue to be mined.”

      Arriving in Williamson, West Virginia—the heart of coal country—the Democratic frontrunner was greeted by a wall of protesters who were angry over remarks she made in March foretelling the end of the coal industry.

    • “Nature Won’t Wait”: Break Free 2016 Begins with UK Coal Mine Occupation

      Hundreds of climate activists shut down the UK’s largest open-cast coal mine on Tuesday morning—the first of a wave of peaceful direct actions spanning six continents and 12 days, targeting the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

      Mining work has now been halted at the Ffos-y-fran mine in south Wales, where the mass civil trespass by climate action network Reclaim the Power began at 5:30am local time. Hundreds of demonstrators wearing red boiler suits used their bodies to form a massive red line across the mine, while nine individuals are locked to each other, blocking road access to the controversial facility.

    • Scientists Aren’t Just ‘F*cking With You’: Jimmy Kimmel Takes On Sarah Palin’s Climate Denial

      On Monday evening’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the ABC late-night host tackled something that isn’t in your average topical monologue: the scientific consensus on climate change. And he made a video featuring real climate scientists responding to climate denial in a fashion one doesn’t see in the National Academy of Sciences.

      The catalyst involved a climate denier-produced movie, “Climate Hustle,” which has been called “amateurish” and “not very watchable.” Specifically what Kimmel seized on were comments former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gave last month while promoting the movie.

    • California And Florida Governors Duel On Climate Denial

      When it comes to climate change — and climate-denying politicians — California Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t mince words.

      Brown sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott Monday, in time for Scott’s visit to California — a trip in which Scott aims to convince West Coast businesses to consider moving to Florida. But Brown had some business advice of his own for Scott, who’s long been known for his climate-denying, anti-clean energy record.

    • Record Heat Threatens India’s Poor and Elderly

      One year after India experienced the fifth-deadliest heat wave ever recorded, temperatures are again soaring to deadly extremes. Local governments are scrambling to address rising death tolls and dwindling water supplies.

      The drought and blistering heat, some 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, has claimed 300 lives since early April. Towns on India’s eastern side have been hit with record-setting temperatures — 119.3 degrees in the town of Titlagarh, Orissa, which is the highest temperature ever recorded in that state during April.

    • Arctic Death Spiral Update: What Happens In The Arctic Affects Weather Everywhere Else

      This was the hottest four-month start (January to April) of any year on record, according to newly-released satellite data.

      The Arctic continues its multi-month trend of off-the-charts warmth. So it’s no surprise that Arctic sea ice continues to melt at a record pace. New research, however, finds that warming-driven Arctic sea ice loss causes high-pressure systems to get stuck in places like Greenland, leading to accelerated melt of the land-locked ice that drives sea level rise worldwide.

      Let’s start with the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) satellite data, which show that the lowest part of the atmosphere (the lower troposphere) was an impressive 1.3°F (0.71°C) above the historical (1981-2010) average — a baseline that is itself 0.8°F (0.45°C) hotter than pre-industrial levels.

    • A Growing and WINNING Climate Movement

      The growing rallying cry of the climate movement, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, is taking hold, and not just in the form of chants and headlines, but in the form of cancelled gas pipelines, rejected LNG terminals, shelved lease sales – all of which would’ve perpetuated the fossil fuel status quo, but which faced mounting and unprecedented public opposition. Emboldened by the successful campaign against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and motivated by the growing scientific consensus that we must keep at least 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we hope to avoid a climate disaster, communities are increasingly pushing back against fossil fuel projects that would not only threaten their backyards, their water, and their health, but threaten our very ability to maintain a livable planet.

    • Gripped by Climate Disruption, World on Brink of Global Water Crisis

      Global water shortages, exacerbated by human-caused climate change, are likely to spur conflict and migration across the Middle East, central Asia, and Africa—all while negatively impacting regional economies, according to a new World Bank report published Tuesday.

      Rising demand combined with increasingly “erratic and uncertain” supply could reduce water availability in cities by as much as two thirds by 2050, compared to 2015 levels, the report warns. Meanwhile, “food price spikes caused by droughts can inflame latent conflicts and drive migration,” a World Bank press statement reads.

    • Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California? [Ed: mentioned here before]
    • The Massive, Tragic Trashing of Our Oceans: Is There Still Time to Do Something About It?

      It’s impossible to overestimate how critical the oceans are to the overall health of life on Earth. For one thing, tiny marine plants called phytoplankton provide up to 85 percent of the world’s oxygen, according to EarthSky.org. But the oceans don’t just give us good stuff like oxygen; they take away bad stuff, like carbon dioxide. A 2011 international study led by the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, estimated that the oceans absorb 27 percent of the CO2 produced by the fossil fuel combustion.

  • Finance

    • Detroit Schools Shuttered as Lawmakers ‘Illegally’ Withhold Teacher Pay
    • BREAKING: TTIP leaks confirm dangers for digital rights

      While the European Commission claims to be very transparent in its reports, the public receives a non-complete state of play after each round of negotiations. The leak is a real, internal state of play on the negotiations, clearly reflecting the lobbying efforts of certain parts of industry from both sides of the Atlantic.

    • TTIP: The NO must get louder and stronger

      The most recent TTIP leak provides ample proof of one core fact: The contradictions between the official positions of both sides are far greater than the European Commission has ever publicly acknowledged. To insist under these circumstances as the Commission does – that the negotiations should be finalized by the end of this year – either signals a belief in political miracles or an implicit willingness to cave in. The Commission has some explaining to do.

      Every single publicly voiced suspicion concerning the lack of transparency in these TTIP negotiations has been justified by the revelations stemming from the leak. If the Commission had the intention to really stand up for the interests of European consumers, European manufacturing industries and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, they should welcome critical contributions from many NGOs and the broader public in general. But instead, by keeping the public ignorant about the truth of the negotiations they only manage to weaken the European negotiating position. Obviously, the Commission cannot be trusted to be a good steward for European interests in the political battle over TTIP. Not on ISDS, not on regulatory cooperation, not on good protection standards.

    • Australian Craig Wright claims to be Bitcoin creator

      Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has publicly identified himself as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

      His admission follows years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas underlying the digital cash system.

      Mr Wright has provided technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin’s creator.

      Prominent members of the Bitcoin community and its core development team say they have confirmed his claims.

    • Aid Group Backed by Bill Gates and Bono Draws Senate Scrutiny

      A U.S. Senate panel is examining whether a global aid group funded partly by billionaire Bill Gates and rock star Bono misled U.S. officials about its anti-corruption practices to retain government funding.

      The inquiry stems from the handling of allegations of corruption that surfaced four years ago at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a multibillion-dollar charity with private and public support. Seth Faison, a Global Fund spokesman, categorically rejected any implication that the aid organization had engaged in misconduct.

      In the Senate, the staff of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recently questioned at least one former official of the Global Fund, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The questions relate to the firing of an inspector general for the charity who published reports alleging corruption and to subsequent affirmations by the charity that it had an independent inspector general.

    • ‘Burning Man for the 1%’: the desert party for the tech elite, with Eric Schmidt in a top hat

      A red Ferrari with the top down swerved past on the winding dirt road, heading to what looked like a small Mars encampment. Helicopters landed on the side of the road and greeters darted across. At a farmers’ market with overflowing baskets full of raspberries, watermelons, and focaccia, I asked for a mango, and the farmer started cutting it in half for me: “That’ll be $7.”

      This weekend, outside Las Vegas, a group of Burning Man veterans put on a festival called Further Future, now in its second year. Across 49 acres of Native American land over three days, with around 5,000 attendees, the event was the epitome of a new trend of so-called “transformational festivals” that are drawing technologists for what’s billed as a mix of fun and education. While tickets started at $350, many attendees opted for upgrades to fully staffed accommodation and fine dining.

    • Supreme Court Tells Industry Group Attacking The $15 Minimum Wage To Go Away

      Once upon a time, International Franchise Association v. City of Seattle was going to be an epic showdown over government’s ability to regulate employers. The case presented a series of arguments against Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage ordinance that ranged from ambitious to an outright assault on lawmakers’ power over businesses. One of the plaintiffs’ arguments, for example, suggested that the minimum wage violates the First Amendment because it forces companies to spend money on wages that could otherwise be spent on advertising.

      Really. We’re not making that up. That was an actual argument advanced by top lawyers in a federal court.

      On Monday, however, the Supreme Court announced that it will not hear an appeal from a federal circuit court’s decision refusing to halt Seattle’s minimum wage. That doesn’t end this lawsuit altogether, but it is only the latest in a series of embarrassments for the plaintiffs in this case. And it most likely means that this effort to undermine Seattle’s protections for low-income workers will gain no traction in federal court.

    • The Supreme Court Just Refused To Shield Corporate America From A $15 Minimum Wage. What Happens Now?

      With the Supreme Court’s decision Monday not to hear the fast food industry’s lawsuit against Seattle, the nation’s first $15 minimum wage law is safe – and opponents of higher pay floors for U.S. workers are running low on options.

      The decision upholds two previous rulings that Seattle’s law does not discriminate against franchise firms like McDonald’s. The case was the most prominent legal challenge to a large minimum wage hike in recent years, and one of several to fail.

      But while the hugely profitable industries that oppose Fight for $15 workers and their allies aren’t making much progress on the legal front, they’re far from done fighting. The minimum wage battleground reaches far beyond the legal arguments that have failed in Seattle, New York, and Washington, D.C.

    • Alleged Leaked TTIP Report Reveals Differences, Convergence On IP Issues


      The text states (p. 16): “The EU and the US continued to discuss conformity assessment principles for ICT products that use cryptography. The discussion was based on the TPP text, which the US linked to the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) principles.

      The EU noted the sensitivities of Member States, which are competent in this area and which would not like to see its right to regulate curtailed in a security-related area. The EU went on to present a set of questions, derived from previous contacts with Member States. As the US was not ready to provide a reply on the spot, the EU will be sending the set of follow up questions in written form.

      Given the complexity of the subject, both sides agreed on the need to further deepen the issue on both policy and technical aspects before the next TTIP round.”

    • Greenpeace Netherlands Releases TTIP Documents

      That’s why I was so excited when I heard that Greenpeace Netherlands was releasing to the public secret documents from the United States’ current trade negotiations with the European Union. The deal is called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP for short) and once it’s agreed upon it will govern the U.S.-European economic relationship for years.

    • Time for Radical Action, Not National Therapy

      We don’t need to bridge the class divide — we need to end it.

    • Italian Court Rules Stealing Food is Not a Crime If You are Poor and Hungry

      Stealing food if you are hungry and poor is not a crime, Italy’s highest appeals court ruled on Monday.

      Judges with the Supreme Court of Cassation overturned a theft conviction against a Ukrainian man who stole $4.50 (€4.07) of sausage and cheese from a supermarket in Genoa in 2011, finding that he had taken the food “in the face of immediate and essential need for nourishment.”

      In 2015, the man, Roman Ostriakov, was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay a $115 (€100) fine.

      “The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of need,” the court ruled on Monday. For that reason, the theft “does not constitute a crime.”

    • Blocking Wall Street’s Revolving Door

      At a surreal meeting in Bermuda, the AFL-CIO convinced 40 percent of Lazard shareholders to support a ban on golden parachutes for bank executives who go to work for financial regulators.

    • Why Student Loan Debt Harms Low-Income Students the Most

      Four years ago, student loan debt in America topped $1 trillion. Today, that number has swelled even further, with some 43 million Americans feeling the enduring gravity of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.

      While student debt may not intuitively register as something that plagues the poor, student debt delinquency and defaults are concentrated in low-income areas, even though lower-income borrowers also tend to have much smaller debts. Defaults and delinquencies among low-income Americans escalated following the Great Recession of 2008, a period when many states disinvested from public colleges and universities. The result was higher costs of college, which has led to larger loans.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Want To Know Trump’s General Election Strategy? Check Out Who He’s Having Lunch With.

      More importantly, though, Klein is also a expert on smearing Democratic politicians — particularly the party’s current presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. After relatively respectable stints at New York Times Magazine and Newsweek, Klein essentially turned into a gossip columnist with a vendetta, writing negative and often salacious books on both Hillary and Bill Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, and the Kennedy family. Most of his books’ more controversial claims are based on quotes from anonymous sources, causing both conservative and liberal writers alike to raise serious questions about his credibility.

    • Bernie and the Greens

      Let us place the Green party’s reach in the proper perspective: Not being on the ballot in 25 states is the important statistic. This shows how seriously Green Party leadership appears to take electoral success. The RepubLicans of 1860, though they had been at it less than a decade, were far more electorally entrenched.

    • In First, Trump Ekes Ahead of Clinton in New National Poll

      As the presidential nominating contests enter their final stretch, a troubling new trend has developed for Democratic voters as recent polling indicates that Hillary Clinton may be losing her lead over Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

      In a hypothetical matchup, the New York billionaire would defeat the former secretary of state 41 to 39 percent, according to the new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, which was released on Monday.

    • 6 Most Hilarious Examples of Anti-Trump Art

      The negative reactions to Donald Trump’s campaign range from nausea, fear and anxiety to an increase in celebrities threatening to move to Canada. For those of us aghast and despairing that America has lost its collective marbles as he continues to win primaries, fear not: there is a silver lining. Artists have found delightful ways to protest the Donald. Read on for six examples of how artists, musicians and even sex-toy makers have subverted the image and message of the bewildering candidate.

    • Trump Fills a Vacuum Left by the GOP

      The Donald Trump rampage—still hard to believe, after nearly a year—is a symptom of something deeper and more profound: the Republican Party’s slide into complete incoherence.

      Rarely has a major party’s establishment been so out of touch with its voting base. Rarely have so many experienced politicians (Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry et al.) been so thoroughly embarrassed, and so cruelly dispatched, by a political neophyte. Rarely have feelings been so raw that one leading Republican (John Boehner) would publicly describe another (Ted Cruz) as “Lucifer in the flesh.”

      What does the GOP believe in? There was a time when anyone with a passing interest in politics could have answered that question. Today, who knows?

    • In Race for London Mayor, Donald Trump’s Anti-Muslim Playbook Seems to Be Failing for Zac Goldsmith

      STOP ME IF you’ve heard this one: an outsider politician who owes his station in life to the hundreds of millions he inherited from his father is running a failing campaign for office based on stoking fear of Muslims.

      The word “failing” — as in 20 points down in the polls days before the election — is a clue that we are speaking about someone other than Donald Trump.

      In this case, the politician’s name is Zac Goldsmith, and he is the millionaire scion of a prominent British family. He was thought of, until recently, as a mild-mannered Conservative member of Parliament, known mainly for his environmentalism and his sister’s friendship with the late Princess Diana.

      For the past two months, however, he has generated waves of disgust and, polls suggest, not much sympathy, by pursuing a mayoral campaign filled with racially divisive innuendo about the supposed danger of electing his Labour Party rival, Sadiq Khan, a son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants.

    • Irony Alert: Latinos May Determine Donald Trump’s Fate

      After serving for months as punching bags for Republican candidates, Latinos may ultimately decide the outcome of the race. An upcoming report from two GOP consulting firms argues that Latino votes in California could prove decisive in 11 of the state’s 53 congressional districts—a swath that confers more delegates than 20 other states combined. “If Trump is going to be held under 1,237″—the number of delegates needed to avoid a contested convention—”it will largely be the result of Latino Republicans voting against his candidacy,” says Mike Madrid, whose firm, Grassroots Lab, co-authored the report with the GOP analytics firm Murphy Nasica.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows

      Yes of course, one has to acknowledge it. Barring an indictment, or the surfacing of some extremely embarrassing Goldman Sachs speech transcripts before July, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee and Bernie Sanders a historical footnote of yet indeterminate significance.

      Then—unless scandal hits her between July and November (which Trump could exploit mercilessly), or her cell phone electrocutes her in the shower—Hillary will become the next Commander-in-Chief. People should of course ask themselves and others what that will mean to them and the world. Here are some suggestions about what may be in store.

      Hillary sells herself to the electorate first and foremost as a woman, whose time has come. The first woman president to follow the first Black president. A woman who has fought for women, girls, children and families—including especially people of color—all her life. That’s her brand. As required she identifies as liberal and progressive, and she has campaigned as these in the contest with Sanders.

    • George Carlin Exposes the Truth About American Government and Its System of Oligarchy (Video)

      George Carlin would have had a field day with the 2016 United States presidential election if he were alive today. The comedian and social critic died on June 22, 2008, but his spirit and wisdom remains eternal.

    • Some Indiana Counties Closed Two-Thirds Of Their Polling Places Ahead Of Record Turnout Election Day

      Some 4 million Indiana voters are expected to head to the polls today in record numbers, as the state takes an unexpected spotlight in a primary where candidates in both parties are fighting it out until the bitter end. The state has already seen extremely high turnout in early voting; over 50 percent more people have cast early ballots than when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama went head-to-head in 2008.

    • Strong Majority of Democratic Voters Agree: Sanders Should Fight to the End

      The majority of left-leaning voters want Bernie Sanders to stay in the presidential race, a new poll reveals.

      Just as the Vermont senator is promising to take his candidacy all the way to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July—and contest the delegate allocation if necessary—voters around the country are expressing just how much they believe in him and what his candidacy represents.

    • It’s time for Channel 4 to set the indies free – again

      Somewhere between childhood and early middle age, Britain’s Channel 4 lost sight of the importance of giving its indie producers free rein. Today’s leaders could learn a lot from the legacy of the channel’s founder, Jeremy Isaacs.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Judge Tells Twitter Revealing Classified Stats Isn’t Protected By 1st Amendment… But Says Twitter Can Challenge Classification

      Back in late 2014, we wrote about Twitter suing the US government over whether or not it was allowed to publish just how many National Security Letters and FISA Court orders it receives in its transparency report. This came after a bunch of other tech companies had settled a similar lawsuit with an agreement that they could reveal certain “bands” of numbers, rather than the specific number. It still boggles the mind that merely revealing the number of NSLs and/or FISC orders received would create any problem for national security, but the government seems hellbent on keeping that information secret. Probably because they don’t want the public to understand how widely this system is used to obtain info.

      We had mentioned this case just a few weeks ago, noting that a bunch of companies had filed an amicus brief pointing out that it’s unclear if they can even admit that they’ve never received such a request (i.e., it’s possible that warrant canaries are illegal).

      Meanwhile, the DOJ has been trying to get the entire case thrown out because that’s what the DOJ does. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has now given a mixed ruling denying some of the DOJ’s motion, but granting a key part concerning Twitter’s First Amendment claim. The good news, though, is that the issue there is at least partially procedural, allowing Twitter to try again.

    • National Intelligence Office’s Top Lawyer Fires Off Spirited Defense Of Bulk Surveillance, Third Party Doctrine

      The thing is that while people may voluntarily agree to hand over certain information to service providers (and it’s safe to say the “agreement” is anything but “voluntary”), they do not naturally assume the service provider will share this — no questions asked or warrants demanded — with anyone else who comes asking for it. That’s where the reliance on Smith v. Maryland fails. “Choose to disclose” is much different than “forced to disclose.” And it’s not as if it can truly be said phone users relinquish all ownership of that data. It’s specifically tied to them and they “share” it with service providers — which if that’s how Litt wants to interpret the interaction, he should at least be honest and give both parties some sort of ownership, along with the privacy expectations that go with it.

      A lot of the rest of it is given over to Litt’s displeasure that courts have even granted plaintiffs standing in bulk metadata program lawsuits. Whatever the Third Party Doctrine doesn’t shut down, the plaintiffs’ inability to claim anything more than theoretical rights violations by programs the government refused to discuss publicly should have seen the cases tossed immediately. He agrees the framework is there for massive violations of privacy but these actually damaging acts simply never occurred. But abuses did occur and were covered up by the NSA, nearly resulting in the program being shut down back in 2008 by FISC Judge Reggie Walton.

    • What’s Your ‘Insider Threat Score?’ It Could Determine If You Keep Your Clearance

      Your eligibility to perform secret government work could one day be decided by a number that looks like a credit score, and factors in your social media activities.

    • NSA to Spy On Own Employees Everywhere, All the Time

      A National Security Agency official is seeking the ability to track employees on their personal computers, as well as at office workstations, to ensure they are not participating in illegal activities, including downloading child pornography, or leaking state secrets.

    • America’s surveillance court rubber-stamped every single surveillance warrant in 2015

      The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is a secret court that hears warrant requests from America’s spy agencies when they want to wiretap people in the USA.

      The court — which is non-adversarial, hearing only from the spies, and not from anyone representing those they wish to spy upon — is supposed to serve as a check upon uncontrolled secret powers.

      A document released by the DoJ this week shows that the FBI and NSA made 1,457 warrant requests to the court.

    • Why Activists Today Should Still Care About the 40-Year-Old Church Committee Report

      Today, if you go on Twitter, you can find the NSA tweeting about its commitment to recycling, or the CIA joking about still not knowing the whereabouts of Tupac. Why are these once-sinister and little-known spy agencies so eager to put on a friendly face for us? The answer can be traced back to the Church Committee of 1975-76, which forever changed the way Americans looked at the intelligence agencies meant to serve them.

    • NSA and CIA Double Their Warrantless Searches on Americans in Two Years

      FROM 2013 to 2015, the NSA and CIA doubled the number of warrantless searches they conducted for Americans’ data in a massive NSA database ostensibly collected for foreign intelligence purposes, according to a new intelligence community transparency report.

      The estimated number of search terms “concerning a known U.S. person” to get contents of communications within what is known as the 702 database was 4,672—more than double the 2013 figure.

    • Samsung SmartThings Platform Latest To Highlight Internet Of Things Security Is A Joke

      Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a new study has found that the “Internet of Things” may bring some added convenience, but at the high price of severe security vulnerabilities. Researchers at the University of Michigan say they’ve uncovered (pdf) some major new vulnerabilities in Samsung’s SmartThings platform that could allow an attacker to unlock doors, modify home access codes, create false smoke detector alarms, or put security and automation devices into vacation mode. Researchers say this can be done by tricking users into either installing a malicious app from the SmartThings store, or by clicking a malicious link.

    • Woman ordered to provide her fingerprint to unlock seized iPhone
    • Twitter Hasn’t Been A Great Traffic Source For Publishers

      Twitter, compared to Facebook, Google, and even Yahoo, really isn’t very good for driving referral traffic. This is at least the case when it comes to news publishers as new data from Parse.ly finds.

      This week, Nieman Lab shared data from the company, which looked at 200 of its client websites. These include Upworthy, Slate, The Daily Beast, and Business Insider. While Twitter’s value for breaking news is certainly acknowledged, it concludes that Twitter is a small source of traffic for most publishers with less than 5% of referrals coming from Twitter in January and February.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Celebrating Mother Jones

      This week commemorates the anniversary of the Haymarket Affair, International Workers’ Day, and the claimed birthday of Mother Mary Harris Jones. While the United States’ official Labor Day falls in September, the international community celebrates workers and workers rights on May 1st, in recognition of actions taken by Americans in 1886, and the events that led up to the Haymarket Massacre.

    • Whistleblowing Is Not Just Leaking — It’s an Act of Political Resistance

      One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency, who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint. They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: What begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice.

    • The Proper Channels For Whistleblowers Are Still A Joke

      This administration has made it clear whistleblowing isn’t tolerated. It has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other administrations combined. It’s even planning a “Welcome Home” prosecution for the nation’s most famous whistleblower — Edward Snowden — should he ever decide to return to the US.

      Officials, of course, claim to love whistleblowing. That seems to be the main objection raised to Snowden’s activities: “If only he’d gone through the proper channels, we wouldn’t be seeking to jail him the moment he returns to American soil (or the soil of any country with a favorable extradition policy).”

      But there are no official channels — or, at least, no channels whistleblowers feel safe using.

      Foreign Policy has the story of another NSA whistleblower the agency has chosen to make miserable rather than investigate the source of her complaints. It started with an FBI raid of her house — something she found out via a phone call from an FBI agent already in her house. From there, it got worse.

    • Another Theater Mounts A Legal Battle Against Law Saying It Can’t Serve Customers Beer And R-Rated Films At The Same Time

      In the US, you can be given a gun and a chance to catch bullets for your country at age 18. Three years after that, the US government will finally allow you to purchase your own alcohol. At 21, you can finally be the “adult” in “adult beverages.” Except in some states. Some states tie booze purchases to morality. (I mean, even more so. It’s subject everywhere to “sin taxes.”)

      As we covered here earlier, the state of Idaho says adults can drink booze and watch movies meant for mature audiences, but not always simultaneously. In Idaho, state police have been busting theaters for showing certain movies while serving alcohol, thanks to statutes that say it’s illegal to serve up both booze and “simulated sexual acts.”

      In Idaho, theaters are trying to get the law ruled unconstitutional — pointing out that the law is only selectively enforced (cops raid theaters showing “Fifty Shades of Gray” rather than “American Sniper,” even though both contain depictions of sexual acts) and allows the state to use liquor statutes to regulate speech.

    • Tuesday 10 May: Lauri Love ruling may create dangerous new police powers

      On 10 May 2016, a UK judge will make a decision that will have serious implications for journalists, advocates, activists, whistleblowers, members of the legal profession and other groups who handle sensitive communications or other data. At 10am on that date, British student Lauri Love returns to Westminster Magistrates’ Court for Judge Tempia’s ruling. Tempia will decide whether Love should be ordered to surrender his encryption keys to the National Crime Agency, following oral arguments presented on 12 April. Should Judge Tempia rule in the NCA’s favour, this will give the police new powers to compel people to decrypt their electronic devices, even if they are not suspected of a crime.

      Love’s computers were seized in October 2013 in connection with an NCA investigation, which was eventually dropped. Love, who is now facing extradition requests from three separate US court districts, has taken the NCA to court to try to get five of his items returned to him. The NCA says that some of these items contain encrypted files that they have not been able to read.

    • United Nations Questions Israel’s Use Of Solitary Confinement Of Palestinian Prisoners

      The United Nations Committee Against Torture questioned an Israeli delegation over the country’s prevalent use of solitary confinement, particularly against Palestinian prisoners, after reports that the number of cases in Israeli jails nearly doubled from 2012 to 2014.

      Solitary confinement, which is regularly used against Palestinian prisoners, including children, is likened to a form of torture by the UN, with many experts calling to “ban the solitary confinement of prisoners except in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible, with an absolute prohibition in the case of juveniles and people with mental disabilities.”

    • Cops Arrest High Schooler on 69 Counts of Indecent Exposure for Dumb Prank

      Is Osborn a serial sexual predator, or deviant? Not exactly. The sum total of his criminal activities is this: he exposed himself, very briefly—and almost imperceptibly—in a football team photo for the high school yearbook.

      He did so on a dare, according to ABC15. Just before the photo was taken, Osborn pulled his pants down, ever-so-slightly exposing his privates. Photos of the photo are now blurring at Osborn’s midsection, but people who saw it claimed the crime was barely noticeable. School staff didn’t even notice until after the yearbook had been distributed to 250 people. But a parent took notice, informed the school, and then the police were called.

    • Tennessee Approves Guns On College Campuses

      Without widespread approval from its student leaders, regents, or police, Tennessee empowered full-time staff and faculty to carry firearms at public universities and colleges. On Monday, following months of heated debate about how to keep schools safe, Gov. Bill Haslam allowed Tennessee’s General Assembly to expand campus gun rights without his signature. pparently Melisandre ain’t the only one that got some advanced aging issues cuz Bran look like he’s gotten a couple of kids, a mortgage and a divorce since the last time we saw him.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ICANN CEO Atallah: Gearing Up For Next Round Of New Internet Domains

      One controversial issue from early days of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) could come to final closure ten years later: the decoupling from US oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which manages the central root zone for the domain name system. Meanwhile, the next round of new internet domains is being teed up, but is a few years out, the head of the domain name system oversight body has said.

    • WSIS Forum: Support For General Assembly Decisions On Internet Governance

      Besides much applause for the convening of the WSIS Forum and much optimism on next steps, there were also some voices calling for more concrete steps and some who warned against a deteriorating situation of human rights violations.

      The head of the Polish Telecom Regulatory Body, Magdalena Gaj, underlined that 60 percent of people are still offline and many countries still struggle with basic challenges. She challenged the represented administrations on longstanding commitments unfulfilled, for example with regard to gender equality.

    • Verizon Accused of Deceiving Customers as Historic Strike Perseveres

      Three weeks after roughly 40,000 Verizon workers began a historic work stoppage to protest the “corporate greed” of the telecom company, the union behind the strike joined pubic interest groups in charging Verizon with “systematically deceiving customers” as part of its push to transfer users from copper telephone wires to fiber service.

      The informal complaint (pdf) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was filed Tuesday by Common Cause, Public Knowledge, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and several other groups.

      It charges that the internal Verizon policy known as “Fiber Is the Only Fix” both deceives customers and constitutes “unjust and unreasonable practices” that violate federal law. It also alleges that Verizon has been giving retail customers as little as 15 days notice before ending their copper service, when FCC rules say they must be given at least 90 days notice.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Rights of Trade Secret Owners in Federal Cases

      By longstanding tradition, US courts are open, transparent in proceedings, and transparent in judgment. The FISA courts that I cover in my internet law course are so controversial because they are so contrary to that tradition. Courts are also sensitive to the disclosure of trade secrets and, in the past, have liberally allowed parties to file documents under seal to avoid destroying those rights. Most recently, for instance, the Supreme Court permitted Shukh to file redacted public briefs to avoid discussing secret information regarding his invention rights. See Supreme Court Rule 5.2.

    • Trade secrets come to the fore in the US and Europe with new legislation set to hit the statute books [Ed: criminalising whistleblowers]

      Following the unusually swift and bipartisan passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act through Congress, the US is only a presidential signature away from a wide variety of civil trade secrets cases being litigated in federal courts for the first time. This comes just as the European Parliament has voted in favour of the European Union’s first-ever trade secrets directive, which sets minimum standards of protection across all member states of the EU.

    • Trademarks

      • Zappa Threatens Zappa Over Zappa Plays Zappa

        Another week, another story about the abuse of intellectual property. This one, like many, involve the “estate” of a famous, but deceased, creator. In this case, it’s the estate of Frank Zappa, which apparently is managed by two of his four children: Ahmet and Diva. The other two children are beneficiaries of the estate, but not trustees. The issue here is that one of the other siblings, Dweezil Zappa, wanted to go out on tour under the name “Zappa Plays Zappa” in which he plays songs by Frank Zappa. Sounds reasonable… and, in fact, he’s been playing under that moniker for a while. Except, this time, Ahmet has said that it’s not allowed and forced Dweezil to change the name to “Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa” which is not nearly as catchy.

    • Copyrights

      • Universal Music secures summary judgment against IFP for copyright infringement

        This Kat hates long-haul flights, but is grateful that airlines have improved entertainment packages in an effort to make the journey less dull. She recently learnt that this in-flight entertainment is not just a source of boredom relief, but also, copyright contention. A group of record companies and music publishers brought a claim for copyright infringement against IFP, a producer of these entertainment packages. The plaintiffs, which included UMG Recordings, Capitol Records and Universal Music Publishing Group, claimed that IFP infringed copyright in numerous works by failing to secure appropriate copyright licences. The court’s tentative ruling which granted the plaintiffs summary judgment was subsequently adopted as the final judgment.

      • National Assembly ‘Kills’ French Three-Strikes Anti Piracy Law

        The French three-strikes anti-piracy law “Hadopi” is heralded by copyright holders as an effective way to curb piracy. However, in France the legislation has often been criticized and in a surprise move against the will of the Government, the National Assembly has now voted to dismantle it in a few years.

New Paper About the UPC Explains Why It is Bad for Small- and Medium-sized European Businesses

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna’s latest paper

Ingve paper

Summary: A detailed academic analysis of the Unitary (or Unified) Patent Court reveals/concludes/asserts that it is being marketed or promoted using a misleading premise and promise

“Unitary patent” and court system – A poisoned gift for SMEs is the title of a new paper from Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna, whom we mentioned here before because he closely studied the UPC for a long time (even before it was known as “UPC”). Based on the paper’s PDF (permission granted for us to host a copy), there is a big gap between truth/reality and promotional claims (advertising). The SMEs are often being exploited by proponents of the UPC, who sort of ‘hijack’ the voice and SMEs and claim to speak on their behalf when they say that the UPC would better serve SMEs, not large corporations that often come from outside Europe.

Dr. Ingve Björn StjernaAs the paper states in relation to Europe, “SME are by far the largest employers, their problems are always the problems of their employees and thus of a large number of European citizens. For this reason alone, this matter deserves a broad discussion in the national Parliaments of the affected EU member states. Of the 25 member states having signed the UPCA, so far nine have ratified – of 13 necessary for its entry into force –, 16 ratifications are still open. Insofar, any interested citizen should bring the matter to the attention of the MEP competent for his/her constituency and demand that, prior to its ratification, a broad Parliamentary discussion on pros and cons of the “patent package” should be held. If it is to enter into force in the present form, especially SMEs will have to live with it, this will usually not be to their advantage.”

We already wrote several posts here on why the UPC has nothing to offer to European SMEs and should thus be rejected. There are no pros that we can see, only cons. It’s a con. When patent lawyers and their media assert that UPC would serve SMEs one needs to stop and wonder what kind of clients they have (maybe potential patent trolls or their victims).

To quote the abstract of the paper:

On 16 February 2016, the German Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection presented two pieces of draft legislation for the ratification of the international Agreement on the Unified Patent Court. After the fees for the “unitary patent” have been fixed and a proposal for the court fees and the limits of reimbursable representation costs at the Unified Patent Court has been provided, the political promise that the new system would support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can be judged against the realities. It does not come as a surprise that it is not being fulfilled. Most recently, even the European Commission declared that cost risk would be so significant that SMEs required an insurance to cover it, while admitting at the same time that currently no such insurance is available. An overview on desire and reality as to the costs of the “unitary patent” and the Unified Patent Court.

In the face of EPO lobbying for the UPC (even a month ago in the UK) it is important for European citizens to speak out and to help stop the UPC, which is an unprecedented injustice much like TTIP and TPP. It’s not at all for the interests of European; au contraire.

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