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03.12.16

India Got it Right on Software Patents, But Gives Up on Pharmaceutical Aspects

Posted in Asia, Patents at 4:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some pills

Summary: India is surrendering to Western demands regarding patents on medicine that costs virtually nothing to produce and can save many lives

WHEN it comes to policy on software patents, we salute India in spite of the loopholes which remain (same as in New Zealand and in Europe). Last year we showed how a medical company, for instance, tried disguising software patents as "devices", or something along these lines (or “as such”).

“India’s new leadership is promising in many senses, including its policy on software procurement in government.”India’s new leadership is promising in many senses, including its policy on software procurement in government. It’s driving Microsoft mad, as we noted last year (see the Wiki page “Microsoft influence in the Indian government” for more details).

We were somewhat disappointed to have stumbled upon this IP Watch article from yesterday. “Today,” it said, “Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) filed a patent opposition against Pfizer’s vaccine for pneumonia in India.”

“How far can this patent maximalism go?”Yes, the Big Pharma industry (derogatory term for multinational drug monopolies) is getting its way and patent maximalists like IAM are seemingly jubilant. “Talking to operating companies and even a few NPEs [patent trolls],” IAM wrote, “they’re paying closer attention than ever. From where I’m sitting, the overall trend looks favourable for patent owners.”

A new article by Dr. Glyn Moody, citing this article from Reuters, said: “Techdirt has been covering India’s complex relationship with pharma patents since at least 2009. In particular, we’ve been following for years India’s use of compulsory licenses to provide its people with access to life-saving drugs at affordable prices. Naturally, Big Pharma companies in both the US and EU hate that, not least because it might encourage other countries to do the same. As a result, the US pharmaceutical industry in particular has been applying political pressure to get India to stop using compulsory licenses, even though they are a perfectly legitimate policy tool under the WTO TRIPS Agreement.”

“Why is India, a country with well over a billion people, tolerating this? To appease a few dozen countries whose overall (aggregate) population is about half that of India’s?”Read the whole thing. Glyn Moody wrote an entire book covering patents on genetics or the efforts to virtually privatise life in the DNA sense. It’s no wonder that he uses terms like “Big Pharma companies”; one class of patents which we deem as unethical as (if not more unethical than) software patents is patents pertaining to life itself, or naturally-recurring phenomena (recall what informed people wrote in relation to cancer). How far can this patent maximalism go? Have we not already lost sight of the original goals of the patent systems? Why is India, a country with well over a billion people, tolerating this? To appease a few dozen countries whose overall (aggregate) population is about half that of India’s? Are Indian lives of lesser value? What are they worth in terms of patents? And what happens when people are viewed as products to be monetised?

03.11.16

Business Profit Over Science: Patent Scope at the EPO Has Gone So Badly Out of Control That Even the European Parliament is Complaining

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reckless rubber-stamping ‘business’, like mortgage-giving bonanzas that created a bubble and eventually led to financial collapse

Green register

Summary: The increasingly greedy and unscientific EPO management led examiners to a detrimental point of no return, where the quality of European patents is being significantly compromised/reduced by inflation or ‘dilution’ (as if the goal or the required “result” is quantity, very much at the expense of quality)

EARLIER tonight we published a translation of a French article where the EPO's task is treated as (or framed like) a "business". This clearly isn’t what the EPO was supposed to be. People who signed the EPC would be terribly disappointed to see how it turned out. Many of them are already deceased. Battistelli, being a Republican, possibly believes that everything (including governance) should be run like a business. Past articles about his background and colleagues suggested so as well. When companies evaluate themselves (and assess their balance sheet) based on patent values as though these are intangible assets, patent bubbles (like software patents in the US post-Alice) can result in bankruptcies. There are severe long-term consequences for Battistelli’s misguided policies.

“People who signed the EPC would be terribly disappointed to see how it turned out”According to this new article from Republican media (the Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp.), patents on genetics are absolutely fine. The article is so optimistic about it that there are “billions” in the headline and it states: “Seldom has an intellectual property feud been freighted with so much commercial consequence, scientific implications and uncertainty as the patent battle involving the gene-editing advancement known as Crispr.”

We previously wrote about the European Parliament's complaint against the EPO's practice of granting patents on plants. A new article about this has just been published in lawyers’ media and it recalls: “The European Parliament has not digested the decision by which the European Patent Office ruled about the patentability of certain vegetables with specific characteristics (in this case, tomatoes and broccoli), obtained by conventional breeding techniques. Parliament has thus approved by a large majority (413 votes in favor and 86 votes against) a resolution which called on the European Commission to intervene urgently to clarify the actual scope of European legislation on biotechnological inventions.”

“There are severe long-term consequences for Battistelli’s misguided policies.”Not only patents on genetics/life forms are a problem. The EPO has thrown away scope limitations/restrictions to the point of granting software patents through loopholes. With scope totally out of control, the EPO’s status should be reconsidered; maybe the management too should be shuffled. They are expanding patent scope for their own selfish purposes/reasons and the whole of Europe suffers as a result.

Speaking of results, the EPO calls/dubs its self-serving misleading propaganda “results”. Like “the facts” (a term used by Microsoft in its propaganda) or “the truth” (often a term used/preferred by conspiracy theorists).

Well, the problem is, the “EPO results” (or #eporesults Twitter hashtag) don’t tell the full story; they are self-serving EPO propaganda as we noted here before (see an analysis in English or in Spanish, which is the latest among several).

“These dubious numbers, which torture statistics, shouldn’t be too shocking as the EPO also lies to journalists and even to staff.”Looking at the EPO’s Twitter account today, the propaganda carries on and it often latches onto articles that are themselves based on the EPO’s propaganda (cyclic ‘proof’). Contrary to what the EPO wants us to believe, when a rich country files more expensive/overpriced patents it’s only to be expected. There are false correlations here*, like claiming Switzerland is “most innovative” because of the number of patents/application per capita (ignores economic edge/advantage, which makes the process more affordable) and the wrong assumption that a patent is necessarily the same as innovation. The EPO latches onto other countries as well (not to mention foreign companies).

It’s all just EPO propaganda, and it is percolating its way into the media and then getting used by the EPO as ‘proof’ of the propaganda (it’s loopy, like the Bible proving God and God proving the Bible correct). And this is an institution which employs a lot of scientists? How do they feel about having a bunch of liars among them? These dubious numbers, which torture statistics, shouldn’t be too shocking as the EPO also lies to journalists and even to staff.
_________
* The EPO’s friends over at IAM now latch onto questionable research which they describe using the headline “Start-ups that file for patents are 35 times more likely to be successful than those which don’t, new research reveals” (from Massachusetts Institute of Technology). This sounds, at least on the surface, like very major propaganda from IAM (whether they’re misrepresenting the research or just relaying propaganda). Most likely, given common sense, companies that don’t succeed just don’t have money for patents (applications plus renewal fees). It’s not that their lack of patents leads to their failure. They reverse cause and effect to highlight bogus correlations. That’s just very unscientific. That’s a bit like saying, companies that are worth billions have their own accounting department, hence every startup should have an accounting department, as it would lead to growth and greater profit.

The European Patent Organisation’s Administrative Council Can Stop the Strike by Agreeing/Working to Reintegrate Staff Representatives and End Benoît Battistelli’s Witch-hunts

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hardon at protest
Credit: Kontrovers

Summary: The Central Staff Committee of the European Patent Office asks the Organisation to take steps against the unjust union-busting moves from Benoît Battistelli, who is eager to cover up his own abuses rather than address these

TWO days ago we wrote about next week's EPO protest and WIPR wrote about it too, noting that the “European Patent Office’s (EPO) largest staff union has called for a demonstration to coincide with the next meeting of the Administrative Council (AC) on March 16.

“The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) called for a demo yesterday, March 9, following a vote from staff members to take strike action.”

“The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) called for a demo yesterday, March 9, following a vote from staff members to take strike action.”
      –WIPR
We happen to know a little more about this protest and now seems like a good time to share some additional information.

Internal documents suggest that the Central Staff Committee is “being chosen by Staff as their interlocutor for the strike petition. Unfortunately so far no meaningful dialogue with the current management has been possible on the claims of the petition.”

“Clearly, this is meant as an “opportunity to deescalate” to be seized by the Administrative Council…”
      –Anonymous
For those who forgot what the petition stated, here it is as an image or as text.

“In the light of the overwhelming results,” says an anonymous person, the Committee “has sent a letter to the Chairman of the Administrative Council explaining the further steps regarding the voted industrial action.”

Someone sent us this letter, which we published the other day. “Clearly,” we learned, “this is meant as an “opportunity to deescalate” to be seized by the Administrative Council (AC):

  • Staff will not be satisfied by their representatives just “having a meeting” — a meeting being just an extra tool offered to achieve a goal. Rather staff will be convinced by concrete results.
  • This sign of good-will sent to the AC is made in the express expectation that concrete actions are decided at the next session of the AC on the claims made by Staff

It is increasingly being speculated that if Battistelli isn’t told to leave (or leaves of his own volition) later this month he will be replaced in June, which is when the AC will meet after next week.

“…urgently reintegrate the fired colleagues and immediately cease running investigations and disciplinary procedures against staff representatives.”
      –Anonymous
Commenting on “potential objective success criteria” (success meaning removal of the need for a strike): “Although not expressed, it seems obvious that the first claim of the petition represents a minimum breaking point for staff: Staff expect as a token of genuine change that some form of public instructions is given to the president to review his decision and urgently reintegrate the fired colleagues and immediately cease running investigations and disciplinary procedures against staff representatives.”

This isn’t entirely new. In fact, it’s right there in the petition and also in the B28's text. “Accordingly,” adds the above, the Central Staff Committee can decide on the next steps, e.g. a strike.

Jesper Kongstad, the successor of Battistelli in this position of his (Chairman), can become popular among Office staff by doing the just thing. Anyone can see that union-busting and mock trials just took place. This oughtn’t be tolerated anywhere in Europe.

EPO Tells La Tribune That Benoît Battistelli’s Salary is “We Don’t Comment on Rumours”

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 6:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Liars

Summary: The contract of Benoît Battistelli remains a closely-guarded secret and his mouthpieces provide different answers from what he ‘namedrops’ on the media

IT is no secret that the EPO now lies to journalists and lies to EPO staff. We are still waiting for hard, concrete proof of Battistelli’s salary (including all the perks), which should be made apparent from his contract (that he insistently keeps secret, unlike his predecessor).

A new translation of this French article into English [PDF] is rather revealing and below we highlight some of the more important and unique bits:

Autocratic Frenchman under fire

By Florence Autret | 03/03/2016, 7:00 | 618 words

According to the Dutch daily De Telegraaf of 26 February, Benoît Battistelli is said to have demanded a golden handshake to speed up his departure (his term of office was renewed in 2015) of ….18
millions Euros
, which would correspond to ten years of service. (Credits: DR) Business at the European Patent has never been better. But discontent is growing against the President. Criticized for his authoritarian management style, accused of nepotism, Benoît Battistelli is said to have attempted to negotiate his own departure – at least, according to the Dutch press. On Thursday, at a press conference in Brussels, he denied this completely, and denounced what he called a “campaign of calumny”.

Article published on Thursday, 3 March 2016 at 7.00, updated at 18.00

On 3 March this 65-year-old graduate of the prestigious French National Business School came to Brussels to present the impeccable results of the organization which he has headed for six years: Last year, patent applications were up by 4.8% in relation to 2014. The European Patent Office, based in Munich since 1973, cashes in on 1.5 billion Euros per year when it comes to registering patents. Its biggest clients are in the United States (27% of the applications), Germany (17%), and Japan (13%), but China is gaining ground with 22% more applications than in 2014.

“This is a reflection of the internationalisation of its companies and a sign of how swiftly it is catching up,” was Benoît Battistelli’s response.

Last year the Chinese Huawei Group came in fourth position after the Dutch Philips and two Korean companies (Samsung and LG), and ahead of Germany’s Siemens. “Europe remains an attractive market for technologies,” as the President also notes. In other words, business is booming.

But in Munich, enough is enough!

But relations between the President and his personnel have never been very good. The Frenchman is accused of nepotism, having brought in as his chief executive a former colleague from the INPI, the National Institute for Intellectual Property, and whose wife has been appointed as director of human resources. The unrest within this organization of 7,000 people is no longer confined to gossip around the coffee machine. The facts are hard and plain: Burn-outs, suicides at the workplace, a whole range of contentious disciplinary procedures against staff representatives, and so on.

In January, following the departure of two union executives, thousands of EPO staff members left their offices to gather in front of the French consulate to demand the departure of the “Frenchman”. “It’s getting worse and worse,” says Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, French Socialist Deputy for French Citizens Abroad, who for more than two years has been monitoring the happenings at the EPO, and who, at the end of December, had an interview with Emmanuel Macron, the Minister of the Economy. In Paris he is said to have been given assurance that “no-one wants to wait for a fifth suicide to happen” before taking action. At Bercy, on the other hand, the response was “no comment.” A union source told La Tribune on Thursday that there were not four but five suicides in which there appeared to be a link between work and the lead-up to the act, and emphasised that the personnel, consisting essentially of engineers and legal experts, were subjected to “paradoxical constraints” between an intellectually highly demanding form of work and the pressures of performance.

In Germany, as in the Netherlands, where the Office employs 2700 people at the Rijswijk site near The Hague, President Battistelli has regularly featured in one or another of the media. On 2 March Bavarian television broadcast a documentary about the “nightmare” of one of the suicides in Munich.

“The suicides are personal tragedies. It is very difficult to give a reason for such a decision,” the President of the Office commented on Thursday. According to the Dutch daily De Telegraaf of 26 February, Benoît Battistelli is said to have demanded a golden handshake to speed up his departure (his term of office was renewed in 2015) of ….18 millions Euros, which would correspond to ten years of service.

“We don’t comment on rumours,” was the response on Wednesday by La Tribune, the mouthpiece of the EPO, which is one of the ever shrinking group of organizations which does not publish details of the salaries of its executives… Replying to a question from La Tribune, the President indicated that his annual salary, which is not officially published, was “300,000 Euros” annually. The rumours of his departure and the golden handshake, published by De Telegraaf, were “totally unfounded,” he maintained. These 18 million would correspond to the bonus distributed in 2015 to part of the personnel on the basis of performance indicators. “This is a political campaign”, and “calumny” says President Battistelli, who, incidentally was elected onto the municipal council of Saint-Germain en Laye on a list close to the Republicans.

For Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, the social crisis is only a reflection of the crisis in management. The rule of “one country, one vote” prevails on the governing body, the Administrative Council. “With that principle, you can create silence” by lumping together coalitions of small countries, the Deputy explains. He goes on: “It would be a welcome step if the Member States were to take the matter in hand” by attending a ministerial conference, which has not happened for fifteen years, he says. One country, one vote: “It is the basic rule for international organizations,” replies the President of the EPO. “If the Member States want to change it, I have no objection… but I wish them good luck.” The EPO, which has 38 Member States, is not actually an institution of the European Union, where the influence of the states is weighted according to their size. The situation remains that, as from 2017, it is supposed to deliver the “Unitary Patent”, an industrial and intellectual property instrument created by the European legislature.

The next meeting of the Administrative Council is scheduled for 16 March, and promises to be a stormy event. The revolt has spread from the departments within the Office and is gaining ground among the representatives of the 38 Member States of the organization. In a recent letter to his associate members of the European Union, the Director General of the Patent Office, Jesper Kongstad, a Dane, gave notice of the lodging of a motion demanding an independent audit of the organization, and the suspension of the contentious disciplinary proceedings being taken against the staff representatives. The EPO management has given assurance that the wording of the document which will be submitted to the Council will be “considerably softened.” The President has already announced the convening of a “social conference” in the autumn and the issue of an invitation to tender for the recruitment of an “independent expert” whose task will be to come up with answers about the social situation. On 4 March he is scheduled to meet Martijn Van Dam at The Hague. The Dutch Secretary of State for Economic Affairs has been briefed about the social situation at the Rijswijk site. “The Netherlands are one of the countries which benefits most from the activity of the EPO, both as an employer as well as by way of the number of patents registered by its companies,” was the President’s rejoinder on Thursday. The Netherlands are the fifth country in the organization in terms of patents registered, and Philips hold the lead among the companies involved. Watch this space.

We have had a lot of input about Battistelli’s secret contract (it’s not what Battistelli claims without providing any evidence to the media), but we still hope that someone can leak it to us because of what Battistelli said.

Links 11/3/2016: LibreOffice 5.1.1, Android N Previews/Analysis

Posted in News Roundup at 5:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Microsoft loves open source? Only when it’s convenient

    But while this has been going on, you’re not hearing about another part of Microsoft. Simultaneous with the Eclipse and SQL Server announcements, Microsoft announced it had successfully extracted patent licenses out of Wistron of Taiwan for its use of Android and out of Rakuten of Japan for use of Linux and Android. Though there’s been something of a lull in patent aggression lately, it has a long history and generates a significant revenue stream.

    Yes, that’s right: With one face, Microsoft wants us to forgive and forget the “cancer” comments, the dirty tricks, and the standards fixing. Even as the body of SCO lays slightly warm following the Redmond-financed fight against Linux, Microsoft wants us to overlook more than a decade of hostility and accept it as a full-status community member because it showed up with code, cash, and compliments. But with the other face, Microsoft wants members of the Android and Linux communities where it claims membership to pay up crates of cash for patent licenses or face destructive litigation.

  • Making music with field recordings and open source

    We get a lot of rain in the Pacific Northwest, especially in the winter. But temperatures are also pretty mild, which gives us plenty of opportunity to get outside. Once we’re outside—provided that we’re paying attention—we can see and hear much of nature’s subtle beauty that is too easy to miss while running errands or commuting. For example, we northwesterners often see drops of water clinging to branches and glowing as they refract the light.

  • 75 Open Source Mobile Tools

    According to the Pew Research Center, 68 percent of American adults now have a smartphone—just five percent less than own a desktop or laptop. And 45 percent of adults in the U.S. now own a tablet.

    Given the prevalence of mobile devices, it’s no surprise that the open source community is increasingly working on projects related to mobility. This month, we’re highlighting 75 of these tools—a full 25 more than we included when we updated this list last year. And because there are now so many open source projects related to mobility, we narrowed it down a little bit by focusing only on those that might be of interest to organizations. As a result, we have a list that’s full of mobile development tools, security and privacy solutions, and apps useful for corporate employees.

  • TP-Link blocks open source router firmware to comply with new FCC rule

    Networking hardware vendor TP-Link says it will prevent the loading of open source firmware on routers it sells in the United States in order to comply with new Federal Communications Commission requirements.

    The FCC wants to limit interference with other devices by preventing user modifications that cause radios to operate outside their licensed RF (radio frequency) parameters. The FCC says it doesn’t intend to ban the use of third-party firmware such as DD-WRT and OpenWRT; in theory, router makers can still allow loading of open source firmware as long as they also deploy controls that prevent devices from operating outside their allowed frequencies, types of modulation, power levels, and so on.

  • TP-Link Blocks Open Source Router Firmware In Compliance with FCC Rules
  • Apache Flink, an Unsung Big Data Tool, Arrives in Version 1.0

    Are you familiar with Apache Flink? Not everyone is, but Flink is competing with tools like Apache Spark in the Big Data space, and has released its first API-stable 1.0 version this week. Flink came from Berlin’s Technical University, and it was previously known as Stratosphere before it was added to Apache’s incubator program.

    Like Spark, Flink is essentially positioned as a possible improvement on Hadoop’s MapReduce technology. Spark is primarily for in-memory processing of batch data, while Flink emphasizes the streaming data model. Here are more details.

  • With ownCloud 9 Arriving, Get Up and Running with it Fast

    Earlier this week, we covered the news that the extremely popular ownCloud open source file-sharing and storage platform for building private clouds has just arrived in version 9.0 The release comes with many improvements, including full federation, letting users on different servers share directories and files.

  • Tailoring open source system management software from GitHub
  • Events

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack Deployment, Complexity Concerns Persist

      The OpenStack cloud-computing platform is making inroads in the datacenter where an industry survey found that 30 percent of early adopters are using it to support projects or for production workloads. Roughly the same percentage of respondents to the recent survey said they are evaluating the open-source cloud technology, primarily as a way of offsetting pricey public cloud alternatives.

    • Talligent report finds OpenStack still being debated in the industry
    • OpenStack, the open-source cloud, still gaining converts, survey shows

      OpenStack, the open-source cloud platform, has been embraced by many enterprises for private and hybrid cloud initiatives (and public as well, in some cases). As it matures, however, it is also experiencing growing pains. (The platform was first launched by NASA and Rackspace in 2010.) Namely, a lack of operational tools, security approaches, and lingering concerns about managing private/hybrid cloud cost structures are top challenges facing OpenStack adoption,

    • Rackspace’s Upgraded Bare Metal Servers Integrate OpenStack

      Several companies have been focusing on appliances and servers that incorporate OpenStack, and essentially make deploying an OpenStack cloud an unboxing experience. Now, Rackspace has announced new “OnMetal Cloud Servers” integrating OpenStack — bare metal, single-tenant servers that are API-provisioned in what the company claims is two minutes, “providing near-instant scalability and elasticity.”

      This latest version of OnMetal Cloud Servers delivers connectivity between public cloud and dedicated hardware and enables hybrid cloud performance, too. Both Microsoft and Linux workloads can run on them.

    • When is a link actually, y’know, UP?

      Debugging TripleO deployments is fiendishly hard and this was made more complex by being unable to connect to the failed nodes. Deployed TripleO nodes only allow key-based ssh authentication. It’s great to see security being so good even the sysadmin can’t access the node I guess.

  • Databases

    • Weblate 2.5

      After almost six months of development Weblate 2.5 has been released. It brings lot of improvements and it’s quite hard to point few ones. The most important ones include support for Python 3, reports generators, placeables highlighting, extended keyboard shortcuts, configurable dashboard or group based ACLs.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.1.1 released

      The Document Foundation (TDF) releases LibreOffice 5.1.1, the first minor release of the LibreOffice 5.1 family, with a number of fixes over the major release announced on February 10. LibreOffice 5.1.1 offers a long awaited feature in Writer – the first request dates back to 2002 – as it allows hiding the white space between pages to provide a continuous flow of text. This feature is extremely useful on laptops.

      LibreOffice 5.1.1 is targeted at technology enthusiasts, early adopters and power users. For more conservative users, and for enterprise deployments, TDF suggests the “still” version: LibreOffice 5.0.5. For enterprise deployments, The Document Foundation suggests the backing of professional support by certified people (a list is available at: http://www.libreoffice.org/get-help/professional-support/).

    • LibreOffice 5.1.1 Fulfills 14 Year Request

      Italo Vignoli today announced the release of LibreOffice 5.1.1, the first update to 5.1 released last month. Today’s release brings 83 bug fixes and one new feature that was originally requested in 2002. In other news, a new router was awarded the Free Software Foundation Respects Your Freedom certification and Dr. Roy Schestowitz is unhappy with the coverage of the Microsoft Linux love feasting this week. Several Solus and a couple of Korora reviews have popped up in recent days as well.

    • LibreOffice 5.1.1 Released, Brings a 14-Year-Old Feature Request in Writer

      The Document Foundation, through Italo Vignoli, has had the great pleasure of announcing just a few minutes ago, March 10, 2016, the immediate availability for download of LibreOffice 5.1.1.

      Exactly one month ago, on February 10, 2016, Softpedia announced the release of LibreOffice 5.1, which introduced major features like a redesigned interface for improved ease of use, better interoperability with OOXML files, enhanced support for the ODF 1.2 file format, as well as additional Spreadsheet functions and features.

    • LibreOffice 5.1.1 Released With New Features Added

      The Document Foundation today announced the release of LibreOffice 5.1.1, the first minor release of the LibreOffice 5.1 family, with a number of mostly bug fixes over the last major release, version 5.1.0 which was released on February 10. According to a press release from The Document Foundation, today’s release includes a long anticipated feature in Writer, the office suite’s word processor, that has been requested since 2002. The feature allows users to hide white spaces between pages to provide a continuous flow of text — considered useful for laptop users.

  • Openwashing Without Code

    • Google has joined Facebook’s Open Compute Project and submitted a 48-volt rack design

      Google has joined Facebook’s Open Compute Project and proposed a new design for server racks that could help cloud data centers cut their energy bills.

      The OCP was started by Facebook six years ago as a way for end-user companies to get together and design their own data center equipment, free of the unneeded features that drive up costs for traditional vendor products.

    • Google Is Finally Ready To Open Source Its Data Centre Infrastructure

      Google joins Facebook’s Open Compute Project as web giant starts work on standardised racks for artificial intelligence, machine learning

      Google has, after many years of keeping its data centre infrastructure secret from the rest of the technology world, joined Facebook’s Open Compute Project (OCP).

      Announced at the annual Open Compute Summit in San Jose, not only has Google joined the OCP but it is already working with Facebook on new hardware.

      It was 2011 when Facebook took the lid off its server designs, and one-upped competitors who thought keeping their own data centre hardware secret would give them a competitive edge.

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD 5.9 Set for May 1 Release; Pre-orders Available

      For those of you keeping score at home, OpenBSD is like other BSD derivatives, however this derivative is regarded as one of the safest systems due to the OpenBSD team’s attention to security (and could very well be the folks on the receiving end of Linus’ infamous “monkey” quote regarding, um, attention to detail on security issues, but I digress).

  • Public Services/Government

    • White House continues push to open source federal code

      The White House on Thursday issued a draft policy for public comment that would support making computer code used by federal agencies open source.

      It’s part of an on-going effort by the Obama administration to make government computer systems more efficient both by using open source programs and by releasing code written by government agencies both inside and outside the government to use.

    • OMB’s 3rd policy memo in a week targets software purchasing

      The Office of Management and Budget’s busy week continued Thursday with its third policy memo in the last seven days.

      Along with a draft data consolidation guidance and a final mandate for every agency to set up a Buyers Club for innovative acquisitions, OMB now is taking aim at the software that runs in those data centers and is bought by those procurement experts.

      Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott released a draft open source software policy March 10 with a goal of reducing duplicative purchases and taking advantage of industry best practices.

    • Are you ready to share your code?

      The Office of Management and Budget has released a draft policy to improve how custom code developed for the government – including code developed by contractors – is acquired and distributed.

    • White House wants more sharable, reusable code

      The White House is looking to make software code used by the federal agencies more open, sharable and reusable. In a March 10 blog post, federal CIO Tony Scott announced a new draft Federal Source Code policy that would create a new set of rules for custom code developed by or for the federal government.

    • Agencies would face new open source software requirements under OMB draft policy

      The White House issued a draft policy today that would require federal agencies to open source a significant portion of its software code. Under the proposed Federal Source Code Policy, the Office of Management and Budget would pilot the requirement to share publicly all custom code developed in-house by federal IT personnel and at least 20 percent of newly developed custom code by third party developers or vendors on behalf of a covered agency.

    • OMB moves to make all federal code open source

      The administration has been looking to embrace the best practices in software development, using innovation shops like 18F and the U.S. Digital Service to test and promote methods like agile development and making use of open source code.

      Now, the entire federal government will be getting on board with the latter. The Office of Management and Budget released the first draft of the Federal Source Code policy, a mandate to make federally-developed code available to everyone.

    • Open source lets Irish Taxes scale IT solutions

      The freedoms that come with open source software licences have set Ireland’s tax authorities free to scale-up its enterprise search. On top of that, using Apache Solr has greatly improved finding information on the Intranet and across the many network drives at the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. This would be unaffordable with proprietary software licences, says Cleo O’ Beirne, Content Team Manager at the Revenue Commissioners.

    • New OMB policy aims to make federal agency code open source

      The White House will release a draft policy Thursday for sharing source code among federal agencies, including a pilot program that will make a portion of federal code open source.

    • Microsoft looking for feds to trial new SQL for Linux [Ed: US government asks for FOSS, Microsoft uses openwashing to shove PROPRIETARY down its throat]

      Analysts said the move would enable the company to compete more effectively with Oracle and IBM, who already produce Linux-compatible database products.

    • Leveraging American Ingenuity through Reusable and Open Source Software
  • Licensing

    • Ubuntu and ZFS: Possibly Illegal, Definitely Exciting

      The project originally known as the Zettabyte File System was born the same year that Windows XP began shipping. Conceived and originally written by Bill Moore, Jeff Bonwick and Matthew Ahrens among others, it was a true next generation project – designed for needs that could not be imagined at the time. It was a filesystem built for the future.

      Fifteen years later, it’s the future. Though it’s a teenager now, ZFS’s features remain attractive enough that Canonical – the company behind the Ubuntu distribution – wants to ship ZFS as a default. Which wouldn’t seem terribly controversial as it’s an open source project, except for the issue of its licensing.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Source Fashion Manifesto Asks You to 3D Print Your Clothes & Rock the Runway in a Brave New Fashion World

      I love a good manifesto—whether it’s political or personal. Assuming it’s not of a feverish or crazy Unibomber-ish slant, interesting ideas are usually presented by progressive writers offering an aim for change. I figure if they went to enough trouble to outline an official mission, it’s worth taking a look. And that’s definitely the case with ‘Open Source Fashion Manifesto.’ While initially I was attracted to and curious about the fashion angle in combination with 3D printing, I discovered a much deeper message than anticipated—and one that most definitely needs to be heard, shared, and followed.

    • Italy to adopt first “Sharing Economy Act” in Europe — but does it share EU law principles?

      Katfriend and sharing-economy enthusiast Revital Cohen (Baker & McKenzie, Milan) tells us about what appears to be the very first attempt to provide an overall legal framework for (almost) all those disruptive business that usually go under the definition of “sharing economy”. This legislative proposal comes from a country where sharing indeed matters, ie Italy, but it is not so certain whether Italians really got what sharing services among EU Member States is about.

  • Programming

    • Google Looks To Open Up StreamExecutor To Make GPGPU Programming Easier

      Google developers are looking at starting a new LLVM sub-project around parallel runtime and support libraries for GPUs, CPUs, and other platforms. As part of it, they are also looking to open-source their StreamExecutor that wraps around the CUDA and OpenCL runtimes.

    • GCC 6 Is On Track To Be Officially Released In About One Month

      Longtime GCC developer Richard Biener shared a status update today concerning the state of the GNU Compiler Collection 6.

    • PyPy 5.0 released

      We have released PyPy 5.0, about three months after PyPy 4.0.1. We encourage all users of PyPy to update to this version.

    • PyPy 5.0 Brings Faster Performance, Lower Memory Use

      PyPy 5.0 has been released today as the alternative Python interpreter and JIT compiler focused on performance and efficiency.

      PyPy 5.0 comes down to being faster and leaner, having an upgrade to its C API, profoiling with vmprof is now supported on more platforms, CFFI 1.5.2 for embedding PyPy into a C program, and various other highlights.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Rate our Catalogue of Interoperability Solutions

      The catalogue allows European public administrations, standardisation bodies and providers of IT services to find high-quality interoperable IT solutions that can be reused, rather than developed from scratch.

Leftovers

  • Beware! This Windows 7 And 8.1 Security Update Is Basically A Windows 10 Downloader

    Microsoft has hidden a Windows 10 ad-generator/downloader in a latest security update KB 3139929. This security update is meant for IE11 users who are running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. So, before installing any Patch Tuesday, take a moment to look at what’s inside.

  • Windows patch KB 3139929: When a security update is not a security update

    If Microsoft’s documentation is correct, installing Patch Tuesday’s KB 3139929 security update for Internet Explorer also installs a new Windows 10 ad-generating routine called KB 3146449.

    Many people — present company included — feel that putting an ad generator inside a security patch crosses way over the line. In fact, you have to ask yourself if there are any lines any more.

    [...]

    If the documentation can be verified, Microsoft’s intrusive Get Windows 10 behavior has reached new lows.

  • Science

    • Tell Congress: It’s Time to Move FASTR

      When you pay for federally funded research, you should be allowed to read it. That’s the simple premise of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (S.779, H.R.1477), which was just passed out of a major Senate committee.

      Under FASTR, every federal agency that spends more than $100 million on grants for research would be required to adopt an open access policy. Although the bill gives each agency some flexibility to develop a policy appropriate to the types of research it funds, each one would require that published research be available to the public no later than 12 months after publication.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • High-Level UN Initiative On Global Public Health Gap Holds Landmark Hearing

      An initiative of the United Nations secretary general yesterday gathered what could be described as an assembly of many of the world’s best thinkers and practitioners on public health and intellectual property rights. Industry, activists, academics, international organisations, and possibly some governments poured out their views for nearly seven hours – at times coming to tears and tension – shepherded by an astute moderator, as they responded to the call to take a longstanding debate on medicines access and high prices to a breakthrough.

    • Pasta Lovers Beware: New Study Links Carbs to Lung Cancer

      Carbs have gotten a bad rap over the years for lots of reasons, most of them related to weight. (Remember the “Atkins revolution” a decade ago that had everyone swearing off bread?) For the most part, carbohydrates have been seen as a relatively innocuous, and totally delicious, part of our diets. But a new study suggests the health risks posed by certain carbs are much greater than previously thought, and that we may need to be choosier about the carbs we eat.

    • Protesting Police Comes With A Lot Of Health Risks

      In August 2014, the world watched as police in riot gear cracked down on nonviolent protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. Tear gas, smoke bombs, and rubber bullets rained down on demonstrators. Officers equipped with military tanks and firearms looked ready for war, pointing their guns in the direction of unarmed men and women.

    • French palm oil tax ‘unfair’ and ‘destructive’, producers say

      French plans to place an additional tax on palm oil as part of its biodiversity bill have angered Malaysia and Indonesia. The bill is expected to be passed next week. EurActiv France reports.

      For years, environmentalists have condemned palm oil as one of the main causes of deforestation in certain tropical countries. Now France is responding with an increased tax on the palm oil destined for use in food products.

      The expansion of palm oil plantations in tropical countries has been a major contributing factor to the degradation of forest resources and biodiversity. Yet Europe remains one of the world’s main palm oil importers.

    • Rainforest Activists Just Scored a Big Win Against One of Pepsi’s Closest Business Partners

      The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund has divested from a major snack food company due to its failure to implement ethical palm oil policies. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), which is valued at around $880 billion, divested from First Pacific Group Ltd (HK: 0142), the parent company of Indonesia-based Indofood, which has controlling interests in one of the biggest plantation companies in Indonesia tied to conflict palm oil.

    • Admiral Jeremy is not so admirable

      Just how did we end up with this most unsuitable health secretary?

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Bibi Cancels Meeting With Obama, Demands More Money Instead

      On his own and through his proxies in what is called the US “Israel Lobby,” Benjamin Netanyahu expended enormous political and financial capital in attempt to sink President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. Though the deal is already done, the pro-Likud lobby in Washington with the backing of a significant number of elected Members of the House and Senate is still determined to turn back the hands of time to a US war-footing against Iran. They may well succeed, particularly as most presidential candidates have promised to rip up the Iran deal on day one.

    • Done In by the American Way of War

      And yes, as Campbell headed off stage, General John Nicholson, Jr., beginning his fourth tour of duty in Afghanistan, has officially taken command of ISAF. Though it wasn’t a major news item, he happens to be its 17th commander in the 14-plus years of Washington’s Afghan War. If this pattern holds, by 2030 that international force, dominated by the U.S., will have had 34 commanders and have fought, by at least a multiple of two, the longest war in our history. Talk about all-American records! (USA! USA!)

    • The tragedy of Cologne and Its aftermath – the depletion of civility

      This reaction is deeply frustrating. Groups of men sexually assaulting women in public spaces is a new form of violence against women which needs to be condemned and punished. But this wave of reporting on Cologne has increased an already existing anti-immigrant fervor and has given fresh impetus for further violent xenophobic attacks, as another stereotypical image of a migrant, this time as a rapist, is settling in our imagination and exacerbating our fears.

    • Hillary Clinton: the Queen of Chaos and the Threat of World War III

      Maidhc Ó Cathail: In your latest book, you dub Hillary Clinton the “Queen of Chaos”. Can you explain why you chose this derogatory sobriquet to describe Hillary?

    • Neocons Red-Faced Over ‘Red Line’

      Official Washington’s neocons love to condemn President Obama for not enforcing his “red line” after a sarin attack in Syria in 2013, even though one neocon now admits that U.S. intelligence lacked the proof, writes Robert Parry.

    • Defence on the Brexit frontline

      Consequently a vote for Brexit would be less disruptive for the UK’s defence policy than for other aspects of Britain’s EU membership. However, if the public votes for the UK to remain in the EU, might the enthusiasm be translated into the UK pushing for more Europe in the field of defence?

    • Trump Will Make His Peace with the War Party

      Similarly, while Trump might be able to seize the presidency in spite of establishment opposition, he will never be able to wield it without establishment support. And since war is the health of the State (as well as the health of war profiteers), one of the power elite’s non-negotiable demands is the perpetuation of the empire and its wars.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Tips for building a successful open web API
    • Research consortium to help measure the impact of Open Government

      Five academic and advocacy organisations involved in Open Government launched the Research Consortium on the Impact of Open Government last February to “improve the understanding of the effectiveness and impact of Open Government reforms” in the world. Global Integrity, The Governance Lab, The World Bank’s Open Government Global Solutions Group, Open Government Partnership’s Support Unit and the Results for Development Institute are the founding members of the initiative.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • House Republicans Get Secret Briefing from Koch Veterans Group

      The Koch brothers’ group targeting veterans gave a secret briefing to U.S. House Republicans on “Reforming Veterans Health Care” last week, according to an invitation to the meeting provided to CMD.

      The Kochs’ Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) has been in the news lately for a six-figure ad campaign in Nevada supporting Rep. Joe Heck’s campaign for Senate.

      The politically-active nonprofit does not disclose its funding sources, but tax documents reveal that since 2011 CVA and its related organizations have received nearly $21 million from Freedom Partners, the Koch brothers’ “secret bank,” and almost $2 million from the Koch-linked TC4 Trust.

    • Noam Chomsky: If Trump Wins, 5 Reasons Why the ‘Human Species Is in Very Deep Trouble’

      The first question we have to ask ourselves regarding a Trump presidency is if Trump means what he’s saying. “Trump says all sorts of things,” Noam Chomsky reminded us. “Some of them make sense; Some of them are crazy. But the U.S. is an extremely powerful state [and] if Trump means what he’s saying, the human species is in very deep trouble.”

      Here are his top five reasons why.

    • Family Wins Case Against Fracking Company After 7 Years Of Polluted Drinking Water

      Two Pennsylvania families who have been fighting to prove that a fracking company polluted their well water got a major win in court this week. A federal jury awarded the Dimock, PA residents $4.24 million Thursday, after finding that Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. — one of Pennsylvania’s largest oil and gas companies — guilty of polluting their well water with methane.

      The couples — Nolen Scott Ely, Monica Marta-Ely, and Raymond and Victoria Hubert — first sued Cabot back in 2009, the Times-Tribune of Scranton reports, a suit that at the time was joined by about 40 other homeowners, all alleging well water pollution from Cabot’s oil and gas activities. That suit reached a settlement with most of the plaintiffs in 2012, but the Elys and Huberts refused to settle, deciding instead to continue fighting the case in federal court.

  • Finance

    • Retailers Sue Visa, MasterCard Over Chip-Reader Rules

      Lawyers behind a new antitrust suit in California claim credit card issuers shifted $8 billion of liability onto merchants overnight.

    • How Hillary Helped Banks Foreclose on 5 Million Families

      Let me be clear at the outset: I think what follows is a bullshit argument. But I think it is less unfair of an argument than Hillary’s claim that, by voting to withhold the second tranche of TARP funding on January 15, 2009, Bernie Sanders voted against the auto bailout.

      As you’ll recall, in October 2008, the Bush Administration threw some vaguely laid out plans on some cocktail napkins over the wall to Congress and got it to release $700 billion dollars to bail out the banks. Between the time the new Congress got sworn in but before Obama became President, Republicans in the Senate wrote a bill to withhold the second tranche, or $350 billion, of those funds. In the days before the vote, Larry Summers threw two more cocktail napkins of promises to Congress. Bernie was one of seven Democrats who voted not to release the funds based on a series of what were effectively ideas on cocktail napkins.

    • Democratic Senators Take Issue With Hillary Clinton’s Portrayal Of Bailout Vote

      Heading into crucial primaries in auto industry states such as Michigan and Ohio, Hillary Clinton in recent days has argued that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2009 vote to block the release of Wall Street bailout money proves he “was against the auto bailout” and that he voted “against the money that ended up saving the auto industry.” But other Democratic lawmakers who voted the same way as Sanders are challenging Clinton’s portrayal of that vote.

      In interviews with International Business Times, two former Democratic senators took issue with the notion promoted by the former secretary of state that their vote to block Wall Street bailout money somehow put them at odds with the auto industry. Another Democratic senator’s office told IBT that the vote was about reining in the financial industry — not about opposing help for autoworkers.

    • Who’s Pumping Money into 2016 Election? Hedge Fund Heads

      A new analysis by Reuters offers a fresh look at the interests pouring money into the 2016 president election.

      Hedge fund managers are upping their game in this election season, with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and Republican Ted Cruz the biggest beneficiaries, Reuters’ review of Federal Election Commission filings found.

      “About $47 million has been lavished on presidential candidates and lawmakers and the political action committees that support them by two dozen of the industry’s top managers in the first 13 months of this election season,” the news agency reports.

      In fact, hedge fund managers are on track “to more than double the amount they gave in the 2012 election campaign.”

    • Survey: German companies call for changes to free trade agreement

      German small and medium-sized enterprises are calling for changes to the planned free trade agreement between the European Union and the USA (known as TTIP). A significant majority of companies surveyed currently expects the deal will have a negative impact on the German economy. This is revealed in a members survey carried out by the research institute, Prognos, on behalf of the BVMW (German Association of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses) and the Schöpflin Foundation.

    • Node Counter On Blockstream, Bitcoin Core and Censorship

      Politics in Bitcoin are never far away, and a message posted on the Node Counter front page earlier today only confirms that statement. In fact, the statement they had on their page left very little to the imagination, as it was an outspoken judgement on Bitcoin Core and how the development of Bitcoin has been bought out by Blockstream. It is not the first time these types of allegations appear on the Internet, but this may have taken things one step too far.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Nation is Not Divided and Still Prefers Bernie Sanders

      According to a recent CNN/ORC poll, 69 percent of Americans claim to be very or somewhat angry with regard to “the way things are going” in the country. Similarly, a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll indicated about the same percentage agreeing with this statement: “I feel angry because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power, like those on Wall Street or in Washington, rather than it working to help everyday people get ahead.”

    • Bernie Sanders Won America’s Largest Arab Community by Being Open to Them

      In October, Sanders shared an emotional moment with a Muslim college student who asked him to stand up to Islamophobia. He invited her up to the stage and cited his own background as the grandson of Holocaust victims as informing his views on bigotry, telling her, “There is a lot of anger being generated, hatred being generated, against Muslims in this country. … If we stand for anything, we have got to stand together and end all forms of racism.”

    • Bernie Wins MI — Wait Whut?

      MI’s Muslims voted for the elderly Polish Jew, by wide margins. That’s not a huge population, but it is big enough to have accounted for much of the differential between Hillary and Bernie.

    • Bernie Sanders knows politics can save lives

      Several members of Senator Bernie Sanders’ immediate family died in the Holocaust. His aunt Chana Reibscheid and her son Leopold Reibscheid, his uncle Jakob Gutman, and his half-uncle Abraham Schnützer were all executed in Limanowa, Poland, in 1942. I only bring this up to underline the fact, perhaps already evident in his bearing, demeanour, and conduct (Inside the mind of Bernie Sanders…, 19 June 2015), that politics is not and never has been a game for Senator Sanders; it is serious, life-and-death business. Rhetoric can be dangerous. Combined with economic hardship and social deprivation, it can be deadly. In the hands of a gifted and twisted demagogue, it can be catastrophic. The antidotes – genuine social security (think about what that term meant, when it was first coined), and the potential for empowerment, engagement and upward mobility – are not just moral imperatives, and humane necessities to ensure. They are what protect a population from the seduction of scapegoating. Bernie is not trying to give away “free stuff”; he is trying to save lives (perhaps lives that were lost long ago). He is trying to build the safe and sane framework to keep his fellow countrymen on track, on board, and in it together. Because he has seen, in vivid personal detail, where the other way of doing business leads.

    • Clinton Proves Best PR in the World Can’t Sell a Terrible Product

      Democrats don’t fight over the size of their presidential candidate’s genitals. But that’s little reason for Democrats to gloat in 2016. If Democratic officials get their way — at this writing, that seems more likely than not — Hillary Clinton will win her party’s nomination partly due to the same reason as Donald Trump seems poised to win his: massive ignorance on the part of the voters.

      The result will be a yuge disaster.

    • Donald Trump’s Get-Rich-Quick Advice Makes a Mockery of His Campaign Rhetoric

      But he has some pretty disturbing advice on how exactly you should do that: Don’t save your money, he says; spend it! In fact, live above your means — it will fill you with confidence. Getting a job is for losers; the key is to get other people to work for you. And spend other people’s money, too. Above all, market yourself aggressively and enthusiastically.

    • Did Bernie Sanders Oppose the Auto Rescue?

      If you agree, then Hillary’s pragmatic willingness to compromise looks pretty responsible and Bernie’s intransigence looks pretty reckless. But if you think TARP was a blank-check travesty that did little more than give a bunch of free money to big banksters and the shaft to ordinary homeowners—and you’re willing to bet the ranch that it wasn’t really necessary anyway—then Hillary looks like a lackey of Wall Street and Bernie looks prescient.

    • Why Bernie May Have a Better Shot at Winning in November Than Hillary

      Much as I’ve liked Bernie Sanders, I never believed he’d be a stronger candidate than Hillary Clinton in the November run-off against the Republicans’ pick for president. I knew he polled better than her when pitted against the leading Republicans, but those polls didn’t factor in the red-baiting and hippie-baiting (Bernie being a child of both the ‘30s and ‘60s lefts) he’d be subjected to by a desperate GOP.

      After all, the only remotely analogous campaign to Sanders’s in modern American politics was that of Upton Sinclair for governor of California in 1934. A lifelong socialist, Sinclair switched his registration from the Socialist to the Democratic Party in late 1933, stunned everyone by winning the Democrats’ gubernatorial primary the following summer, and looked poised to depose the unpopular Republican governor that November. One month before the election, however, virtually every newspaper in the state, and all the leading movie studios, began a concerted drive to bring “Uppie” down, distorting Sinclair’s beliefs and fabricating stories and newsreels showing how he’d ruin the state. Sinclair lost—and I feared that Sanders, though a far more seasoned and adept pol than Sinclair ever was, would meet a similar fate after being subjected to a kindred barrage.

    • Michigan Voters Roundly Rejected Hillary’s Wall St-Friendly Agenda

      Hillary lost Michigan because she truly believes Wall Street, trade and runaway inequality are separate, single issues. She really has no choice. If she admitted the connections, her entire neo-liberal Wall Street-friendly edifice comes crumbling down.

  • Censorship

    • Censorship row as Italy bishops curtail release of gay film

      British film “Weekend” was restricted to just ten cinemas on its release in Italy on Thursday after the country’s bishops branded Andrew Haigh’s acclaimed gay love story “indecent” and “unusable” in the country’s many Church-owned film theatres.

    • Caixin Media’s display of courage against China’s censors

      WHEN CHINA’S president, Xi Jinping, visited the leading party and state news organizations Feb. 19, he demanded absolute loyalty to the Communist Party, saying the media must “have the party as their family name.” His purpose was to cajole and intimidate. But for intimidation to work, it has to inspire fear. This week, a Chinese news organization showed that it was not afraid.

      The publication, Caixin Media, is headed by one of China’s most respected journalists, Hu Shuli, who has often pioneered reporting that exposed failures by the state and private sector. Her journalism has pushed the limits of what’s permissible in a nation where free expression and independent journalism are usually and routinely suffocated by the state.

    • UK News Editors ‘Rarely’ Breach Official Censorship – Advisory Committee

      Infringements of the UK’s Defense and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) code – a system of media censorship that the British Government has operated for almost one hundred years – are “rare” and “in the main inadvertent,” the secretary of DSMA committee told Sputnik on Thursday.

    • U. of Arizona Marginalized Students Demand Trigger Warnings, Censorship, Half a Million Dollars

      The Marginalized Students of the University of Arizona have published their demands: like a lot of student-activists at other colleges, they want mandatory trigger warnings, sanctions for microaggressors, and obligatory cultural sensitivity training. They also want half a million dollars. For diversity.

    • The Media Freedom Summit: Celebrating 40 Years of Project Censored October 21-22, 2016 at Sonoma State University

      Project Censored cordially invites you to attend the Media Freedom Summit: Celebrating 40 Years of Project Censored, to be held at Sonoma State University (SSU) in scenic Northern California on October 21-22, 2016. The Summit will be an opportunity for journalists, students, faculty, activists, and community members to identify and address crucial threats to media freedom, to learn about and share effective strategies for advancing media freedom, and to promote critical media literacy education in service of social justice and positive, meaningful change in local communities and larger society.

    • Italy: Church censure a film on homosexuality

      Weekend film, the British Andrew Haigh, released this week in Italy only 10 rooms, the Church, which controls many independent cinemas in the peninsula, having deemed “scandalous” and “unusable” this gay love story nonetheless hailed by criticism.

      For the Italian authorities, this film is only prohibited under 14. But for the Evaluation Commission of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), it is “not recommended, scabrous and unusable.”

      Therefore, the film was rejected by more than 1,100 cinemas belonging to the Church, which form the core of the network of independent cinemas in the country, alongside the major chains operating, according to its distributor, Teodora Film.

    • The Artist Who Drew Donald Trump With a Micropenis Has Been Banned From Facebook
    • Artist’s Portrait of Trump with Tiny Endowment Censored on Facebook
    • Nude Donald Trump Art Arouses Passion, Censorship
    • How a New York art show about Chinese online censorship found itself censored
    • Censorship debated as comic faces human rights tribunal for disabled teen jokes

      Making fun of a child, especially one with a disability or deformity, is something many comedians say they would never do.

      “I draw a line but it depends where you’re at in your world,” says Gerry Dee. “I have a wife and three kids, so I try to remember that they might hear the joke.”

      “It’s probably something I wouldn’t do,” says Kevin McDonald. “But on the other hand, in the ’90s the Kids in the Hall did lots of stuff that I probably wouldn’t do now.”

      Martin Short takes a harder stance: “You don’t do that, it’s obvious.”

      But many in the standup world believe comedians should have carte blanche when it comes to material, and that being called before a human rights tribunal for their jokes sets a dangerous precedent.

    • Comics discuss censorship in comedy in wake of Mike Ward case in Quebec
    • China Raising TV Censorship

      The Chinese government has issued a ban on all depictions of gay and lesbian people on television. The government says that the move is part of a cultural crackdown against “vulgar, immoral, and unhealthy content.” Chinese censors have released new regulations for content that they say “exaggerates the dark side of society,” and now deems a wide swathe of categories, including homosexuality, suggestive clothing, smoking and drinking, and even reincarnation as illegal on screen. The Chinese government says that TV shows must not undermine social stability.

    • Film & Cinema: Tunisians defy censorship and win awards

      The November 2015 Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia showed there is a demand for more challenging and thought-provoking films, despite strong voices of disapproval in the region.

      “Tunisia is as conservative as Morocco but the difference is that there different points of view can co-exist and debate is tolerated,” says Nabil Ayouch. Ayouch’s film Much Loved was shown at the festival, despite being banned in cinemas in Morocco.

    • TV & Cinema: Pushing out beyond the comfort zone

      “I don’t see myself as an activist,” states Moroccan-French director Nabil Ayouch, whose film Much Loved was banned in Morocco in May 2015 for – according to the authorities – distorting the country’s image. “I do not make a movie to create a debate but I am happy if it does.”

    • China’s Censors Denounced in Online Attack

      China’s formidable propaganda apparatus came under renewed attack on Friday, when a denunciation spread online in the name of an employee of Xinhua, the main state-run news agency.

  • Privacy

    • Broadband Industry Has A Hissy Fit As FCC Unveils Some Fairly Basic New Broadband Privacy Protections

      As had been hinted at for months, the FCC formally unveiled its plans to apply some relatively basic privacy protections for broadband service. And while you’ll likely see the broadband industry bitching up a storm over the next few months, none of the requirements are particularly onerous (and many are things ISPs are doing already). The agency’s full announcement (pdf) notes the rules will require that ISPs are a) transparent about what they’re doing, b) have basic systems in place to protect collected data and alert users in case of data breach and c) provide users with opt out technology that actually works.

    • We Read The DOJ’s Latest Apple Filing To Highlight All Of Its Misleading Claims
    • Apple General Counsel Blasts Justice Department For Crazy Filing
    • Irony alert: Adblock will show its 50 million users ads protesting online censorship

      This is slightly ironic. Adblock plans to show advertising to its 50 million users tomorrow for 24 hours protesting online censorship in support of an Amnesty International campaign.

      On March 12, Adblock users will see messages from Edward Snowden, Pussy Riot and Ai Weiwei protesting cyber censorship. Each advertisement will appear in the form of banner ads – funnily, what Adblock sets out to remove – and send viewers to longer content from each person.

    • Edward Snowden, Pussy Riot and Ai Weiwei protest cyber censorship

      Prominent activists recorded online messages for World Day Against Cyber Censorship, and even teamed up with AdBlock to bring their voices to the public

    • Snowden, Pussy Riot, and Ai Weiwei launch AdBlock campaign to protest censorship

      Ai Weiwei, Edward Snowden, and Pussy Riot have partnered with AdBlock and Amnesty International on an online campaign to protest censorship. The campaign will launch at 4PM ET today and will only be visible to AdBlock users, with messages from the activists displayed where advertisements would normally be placed.

      The global campaign will run throughout the day on March 12th, which is the World Day against Cyber Censorship. It also comes amid heightened concerns over government surveillance, which have been magnified during Apple’s ongoing standoff with the FBI over encryption and national security. Amnesty International, a London-based rights group, has joined other privacy advocates in supporting Apple, arguing that allowing the government backdoor access to encrypted communications would threaten free speech and security.

    • How JavaScript Functions And Mouse Movements Can Reveal TOR Users’ True Identity

      While TOR software suite promises enhanced privacy and security, researchers have found new ways like TOR user fingerprinting to unmask the users.

    • Obama Administration to Expand Unconstitutional Warrantless NSA Spying on Americans

      Spy agency officials and lawyers are putting together a new set of rules that will allow the National Security Agency to share whatever information it garners from its extensive electronic surveillance efforts about American citizens with other law enforcement agencies, reported the New York Times a couple of weeks ago. No warrants needed.

    • New NSA rules allow agency to share data without privacy protections or terrorism links
    • Twitter Asks Court To Dump Ridiculous Lawsuit Claiming It Provides Material Support For Terrorists

      Back in January, we wrote about an absolutely ridiculous case, in which Tamara Fields sued Twitter, after her husband was tragically killed in an ISIS raid last year. Why Twitter? She apparently blames Twitter for the rise of ISIS. She provides no evidence to show that the people who killed her husband (a government contractor for DynCorp International) was killed by people who used Twitter. Or that anything about the attack was related to Twitter. It’s entirely just “ISIS uses Twitter. ISIS killed by husband. Let’s sue Twitter.” As we noted at the time, Section 230 should easily get this lawsuit tossed out quickly, and the company has now filed its Motion to Dismiss. The TL;DR: “Section 230, Section 230, What a stupid lawsuit this is.”

    • High School Students Debate Surveillance in Post-Snowden America

      “Bulk information overload, that’s my favorite argument in debate,” Lena Grossman tells me in between bites of pizza during a short lunch break after winning a round at the Billy Tate Southern Bell Forum, a highly competitive, invitation-only debate competition held annually in Nashville. She thinks the U.S. government vacuums up more digital data than it knows what to do with — which hinders investigations more than it helps. “The evidence is always going to be better. … It’s just unbeatable,” she says. “People are lazy in research sometimes — but the strategies against this argument just don’t exist.”

    • Snowden Calls “Bullshit” on FBI’s Claim It Needs Apple to Unlock iPhone
    • In Bizarre Move, Dianne Feinstein Attacks Tech Companies for Profiting Off Spying on Their Customers

      The only other possibility I can imagine is that the government is trying to expand its access to this proprietary information under PRISM, and providers are balking. Which would be rather interesting.

    • DOJ to Apple: Start Cooperating or You’ll Get the Lavabit Treatment

      DOJ has submitted its response to Apple in the Syed Farook case. Amid invocations of a bunch of ominous precedents — including Dick Cheney’s successful effort to hide his energy task force, Alberto Gonzales effort to use kiddie porn as an excuse to get a subset of all of Google’s web searches, and Aaron Burr’s use of encryption — it included this footnote explaining why it hadn’t just asked for Apple’s source code.

    • DOJ brief in San Bernardino iPhone case ‘sounds like indictment’ – Apple

      The Justice Department has accused Apple of “false” and “corrosive” rhetoric in a court brief over access to the work iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple said the brief contained false accusations and sounded like an indictment.

    • Worried about Apple? California Has a Bill That Would Disable Encryption on All Phones

      Similar proposals have been made by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who published a white paper [pdf] in November 2015 arguing that law enforcement needs to access the contents of smartphones to solve a range of crimes. A nearly identical bill is also pending in the New York State Assembly.

    • US tech companies feel heat of government pressure

      U.S. tech companies are beginning to feel the heat from government pressure to decrypt customer data.

    • FBI Access to NSA Data Limited, Whatever That Means

      The NSA’s surveillance targets communications abroad, but often captures the activities of Americans who are on the sending or receiving end. A leaked 2008 spy document offers a peek at how the NSA collects some of its information, with hilariously named and highly classified programs like “IRONCHEF” and “ANGRYNEIGHBOR.”

    • Jennifer Walsmith: NSA Eyes Acquisition Innovation Through ‘Skunk Works’ Office, Women-Owned Businesses

      Jennifer Walsmith, senior acquisition executive at the National Security Agency, has said NSA has started to establish a “Skunk Works” or rapid innovation office in an effort to introduce novel approaches to its acquisition process, Federal News Radio reported Wednesday.

      “It’s not for Skunk Works technologies, but rather for Skunk Works just thinking about acquisition,” Walsmith said at a National Defense Industrial Association event in Virginia Wednesday.

      Scott Maucione writes Walsmith noted that the agency has started to reach out to women-owned businesses amid the industrial base concerns that NSA faces.

    • Why the NSA doesn’t support the FBI in the San Bernardino iPhone case
    • Senate Intel encryption bill could come next week

      The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee says a bill to give law enforcement access to encrypted data could come as early as next week.

      “I’m hopeful,” Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) told The Hill before a Wednesday vote.

      The long-awaited bill — in the works since last fall’s terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif. — is expected to force companies to comply with court orders seeking locked communications.

      The FBI and law enforcement have long warned that encryption is making it more difficult to uncover criminal and terrorist plots.

      Burr, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been drafting legislation to address the issue with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s ranking member.

    • Senators Burr And Feinstein, Once Again, Threatening New Bill To Backdoor Encryption

      They’ve been promising it for months now, without ever actually doing anything, but Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr (the two top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee) now insist that they’re finally ready to release their anti-encryption bill.

    • Senator Feinstein Revives Stupid Idea That Internet Companies Are ‘Materially Supporting Terrorism’ If ISIS Members Use Their Sites

      Last year, FBI Director James Comey floated a ridiculous idea that retweeting ISIS tweets could be seen as “material support” for terrorism. Indeed, an American teenager got sentenced to 11 years in jail for pro-ISIS tweets, with the “material support” being that some of those tweets linked to pages that taught people how to use Bitcoin. Some have taken this idea even further, and argued that internet companies can be slapped with “material support for terrorism” claims or charges if they let ISIS members or other terrorists make use of their services.

    • FBI and Access to NSA Data on Americans

      The FBI has quietly revised its rules for searching data involving Americans’ communications collected by the National Security Agency.

      The classified revisions were accepted by the secret U.S. FISA court that governs surveillance, under a set of powers colloquially known as Section 702. That is the portion of law that authorizes the NSA’s sweeping PRISM program, among other atrocities.

      PRISM, and other surveillance programs, first came to mainstream public attention with the information leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, preceeded by other NSA whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake and Bill Binney.

    • FBI quietly changes rules on how it handles NSA data, to the benefit of privacy
    • FBI quietly changes its privacy rules for accessing NSA data on Americans
    • FBI and Access to NSA Data on Americans
    • While You Were Watching Donald Trump, Obama Expanded Domestic Spying … Again
    • A federal judge just blew the cover off the NSA’s worst-kept secret
    • Apple Engineering VP: The FBI Wants Us To Make Everyone Less Safe
    • White House Apparently Not Necessarily In Agreement With FBI’s Position On Encryption Backdoors

      There is a (reasonable) tendency to argue that in this big fight over encryption backdoors and “going dark” and “should Apple help the FBI” to assume that the various DOJ/FBI efforts to force backdoors into encryption are the official position of the Obama administration. After all, the Justice Department is a part of the administration and the head of the DOJ, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, reports to President Obama. And the FBI is a part of the DOJ. But it’s also been quite clear for some time that there are a variety of opinions within the White House on these issues, with many outside of the DOJ not supporting backdooring encryption at all. In fact, many are actively opposed to such ideas. And now it’s reaching the stage where people are starting to push stories that the White House is not at all happy with FBI Director James Comey and his crusade on this issue.

    • Warrant For FBI’s Hacking Technique Makes No Mention Of Hacking Or Malware

      Motherboard has obtained a copy of the warrant used by the FBI to deploy its NIT (Network Investigative Tool) to obtain information about visitors to child porn site “Playpen.” This site was seized by the FBI and left running for two weeks while it gathered information.

    • Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism

      This basically formalizes what was already happening under the radar. We’ve known for a couple of years now that the Drug Enforcement Administration and the IRS were getting information from the NSA. Because that information was obtained without a warrant, the agencies were instructed to engage in “parallel construction” when explaining to courts and defense attorneys how the information had been obtained. If you think parallel construction just sounds like a bureaucratically sterilized way of saying big stinking lie, well, you wouldn’t be alone. And it certainly isn’t the only time that that national security apparatus has let law enforcement agencies benefit from policies that are supposed to be reserved for terrorism investigations in order to get around the Fourth Amendment, then instructed those law enforcement agencies to misdirect, fudge and outright lie about how they obtained incriminating information — see the Stingray debacle. This isn’t just a few rogue agents. The lying has been a matter of policy. We’re now learning that the feds had these agreements with police agencies all over the country, affecting thousands of cases.

  • Civil Rights

    • How About an Election Without Polls?

      Sen. Bernie Sanders won the Democratic presidential primary in Michigan, defeating Hillary Clinton … and all the pollsters. Election statistician Nate Silver wrote that Sanders’ Michigan victory “will count as among the greatest polling errors in primary history.” Imagine if we had an election season without polls. Instead, the energy, investigation and money should be spent delving into candidates’ records, whether they’re a businessman like Donald Trump or they’re politicians like Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. This will lead to a better informed, more engaged electorate.

    • CNN’s Trump Apologist Blames Violence At Trump Rallies On Protesters And “The American Left”
    • Trump Supporter On CNN Compliments Man Charged With Assaulting Protester For Getting “Good Exercise”
    • Trump Defends Comments Encouraging Violence At Rallies: Some Protesters Are ‘Bad Dudes’

      A day after a black man was punched in the face by a white Donald Trump rally attendee and then wrestled to the ground by police officers, Trump shrugged off any responsibility and expressed sympathy for the anger his supports feel.

    • Trump Supporter Sucker Punches Black Protester

      On Wednesday night, a black man, Rakeem Jones, protested a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina. As he was being escorted out of the rally by men in “Sheriff’s Office” uniforms, Jones was punched in the face by a Trump supporter wearing a cowboy hat. The officers then quickly wrestled Jones to the ground, pinned his arms behind his back, and led him out of the venue.

    • Video: Black Man Punched In Face At Trump Rally

      The now-common violent outbreaks at Donald Trump rallies escalated further at an event in Fayetteville, North Carolina on Wednesday. Footage that surfaced Thursday morning showed a black man getting punched in the face by a white rally attendee and then wrestled to the ground by police officers.

      The protesters were being led out of the rally by men who were wearing sheriff’s uniforms when Rakeem Jones flipped his middle fingers to the crowd. In the video, he’s punched in the face by a white man in a cowboy hat. The crowd cheers, and Jones is pushed to the ground by the officers and handcuffed.

    • Turkey’s Path to Dictatorship

      Throttling Turkey’s democracy, President Erdogan seized an opposition newspaper that dared reveal his clandestine arming of jihadists seeking to overthrow neighboring Syria, as Alon Ben-Meir explains.

    • The Life and Legacy of Berta Cáceres

      She was highly critical of US Americans for our lack of that coherence. She once led an anti-oppression training for an organization I was running, in which she asked us to examine whether we were Caesars or artisans. She meant whether our practice – not just our statements – aligned us with the oppressors or with the oppressed, and whether we were promoting the grassroots or ourselves as leaders. For a long time after, the refrigerator that Berta and I shared held her line drawing of a thonged Roman sandal. She also commented to me once that the problem with US Americans is our attachment to comfort.

    • Hillary Clinton, Stalwart Friend of World’s Worst Despots, Attacks Sanders’ Latin American Activism

      At Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders for praising Fidel Castro in the 1980s, as well as for standing with Central American governments and rebel groups targeted by Ronald Reagan’s brutal covert wars. “You know,” said the former secretary of state, “if the values are that you oppress people, you disappear people, imprison people or even kill people for expressing their opinions, for expressing freedom of speech, that is not the kind of revolution of values that I ever want to see anywhere.”

      To defend her remarks, Clinton’s faithful Good Democratic supporters began instantly spouting rhetoric that sounded like a right-wing, red-baiting Cold War cartoon; in other words, these Clinton-defending Democrats sounded very much like this:

      Vehement opposition to Reagan’s covert wars in Central America, as well as to the sadistic and senseless embargo of Cuba, were once standard liberal positions. As my colleague Jeremy Scahill, observing the reaction of Clinton supporters during the debate, put it in a series of tweets: “The U.S. sponsored deaths squads that massacred countless central and Latin Americans, murdered nuns and priests, assassinated an Archbishop. I bet commie Sanders was even against Reagan’s humanitarian mining of Nicaraguan waters & supported subsequent war crimes judgment vs. U.S. Have any of these Hillarybots heard of the Contra death squads? Or is it just that whatever Hillary says must be defended at all costs? The Hillarybots attacking Sanders over Nicaragua should be ashamed of themselves.”

    • We support Jeremy Corbyn on decriminalisation

      Prostitution is rising along with poverty in Britain. To protect women both the criminalisation of sex work and austerity must be reversed.

    • MSNBC Cuts Off Florida Governor’s Mic After He Refuses To Denounce Islamophobia

      Scott’s refusal to disavow wholesale condemnations of the Islamic faith is especially surprising given that Florida is home to a number of established Muslim communities in places such as Tampa Bay. The governor did mention to Scarborough that Muslims and other groups “live peacefully” in his state, but even that statement seems divorced from the lived reality of many Florida Muslims: since November 2015, Muslims in the Sunshine State have fallen victim to at least four anti-Islam incidents, including attacks on mosques, shots fired at Muslim homes, and unsettling threats to burn down Islamic houses of worship and murder Muslim children.

    • Allah vs atheism: ‘Leaving Islam was the hardest thing I’ve done’

      “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – telling my observant family that I was having doubts. My mum was shocked; she began to cry. It was very painful for her. When she realised I actually meant it, she cut communication with me,” said Ms Farah. “She was suspicious of me being in contact with my brothers and sisters. She didn’t want me to poison their heads in any way. I felt like a leper and I lived in fear. As long as they knew where I was, I wasn’t safe.”

    • Israeli Police Officer Who Shot Wounded Palestinian Suspect Could Face Charges

      Israeli and Palestinian journalists and rights activists are apparently not the only ones wondering if video recorded in the immediate aftermath of a knife attack in Israel showed the suspected attacker being executed by the police after he had already been subdued.

      A division of Israel’s justice ministry that investigates police officers is reportedly examining the video, recorded by a witness to the mayhem near the seaside in Jaffa yesterday, when Bashar Masalha, a 22-year-old laborer from the West Bank, stabbed a dozen civilians, including an American tourist who died of his injuries and a fellow Palestinian. The 29-second clip shows the suspected attacker lying on the ground as two officers train their guns on him, and an unseen bystander urges one of them to shoot Masalha in the head.

    • Salon With Robert Scheer: John Kiriakou Challenges the American Injustice System

      After that, while working for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he ran into trouble because of an interview he gave to a reporter for The New York Times, in which he revealed the name of a former non-covert CIA agent who talked about his CIA job on social media. This disclosure led to his prosecution in 2012 for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act—a 1982 amendment to the National Security Act of 1947—and was payback for his admission to ABC that the United States waterboarded prisoners. Kiriakou served more than two years in prison. He was released in 2015 and now is working to reform the security state in America.

    • Nearly Half of Israeli Jews want to Expel Palestinian-Israelis from Country

      Nearly half of the over 6 million Israeli Jews want to expel from the country the 1.6 million citizens of Palestinian heritage, most of them Muslims, according to a just-released Pew Forum poll

      This is a startling statistic. It would be as though half of Flemish Belgians wanted to expel the Walloons or French-speakers from the south of the country. There isn’t any member of the European Union where a large plurality of the population wants to ethnically cleanse a fifth of their co-citizens.

    • The American Fascist

      I’ve been reluctant to use the “f” word to describe Donald Trump because it’s especially harsh, and it’s too often used carelessly.

      But Trump has finally reached a point where parallels between his presidential campaign and the fascists of the first half of the 20th century – lurid figures such as Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Oswald Mosley, and Francisco Franco – are too evident to overlook.

      It’s not just that Trump recently quoted Mussolini (he now calls that tweet inadvertent) or that he’s begun inviting followers at his rallies to raise their right hands in a manner chillingly similar to the Nazi “Heil” solute (he dismisses such comparison as “ridiculous.”)

      The parallels go deeper.

    • The Transformative Power of Democratic Uprisings

      Major modern movements suggest, they point out, that Bernie stands a far better chance than Hillary of altering the grim status quo in Washington; that today’s activists fighting for immigrant rights as well as those battling the forces of climate change can, in fact, make a major difference — even against long odds, great doubts, and business-as-usual Beltway intransigence.

      [...]

      Never before has humanity depended so fully for the survival of us all on a social movement being willing to bet on impracticality.

    • Ex-ADL chief: Trump’s ‘raise your hand’ gambit was deliberate, Nazi-style ‘fascist gesture’

      Former Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman excoriated Donald Trump for urging his supporters at a weekend rally to raise their right hands and promise to support him, a gambit Foxman said evoked echoes of Hitler salutes from Nazi rallies in the 1930s and ’40s.

      “Let’s do a pledge. Who likes me in this room?” the Republican presidential candidate asked a large crowd Saturday in Orlando, Florida. “Raise your right hand: ‘I do solemnly swear that I — no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there’s hurricanes or whatever — will vote, on or before the 12th for Donald J. Trump for president.’” (Trump misstated the date of the Florida primary, which will be held on March 15.)

      As the audience enthusiastically complied with his request, the candidate told them: “Don’t forget you all raised your hands. You swore. Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”

      For Foxman, who was born in Poland in 1940 and was saved from the Nazis by his Catholic nanny, watching Trump whip up his supporters in this fashion was extremely disturbing.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Congress Keeps Holding Repeated, Pointless Hearings Just To Punish The FCC For Standing Up To ISPs On Net Neutrality

      When the rules were approved you might recall that net neutrality opponents also tried to claim that the White House “improperly influenced” the creation of the rules, since the White House vocally supported the Title II approach in November of 2014, and Wheeler voiced his support for Title II in February of 2015. This, net neutrality opponents argued, was clear evidence of an unholy cabal.

    • ICANN Marrakesh Meeting Reaches Milestone For IANA Transition

      For nearly two decades, the IANA has been managed by ICANN under a contract with the NTIA.

    • Netflix’s Assault On VPNs Is Stupid, Annoying And Erodes User Security

      Earlier this year Netflix surprised everybody by announcing it was expanding into 130 additional countries, bringing its total footprint to 190 markets. But alongside the announcement came the less-welcome news that Netflix was also planning to crack down more on “content tourism,” or the act of using a VPN to trick Netflix into letting you watch content specifically licensed for other countries. If you take a look at what’s available per country, the motivation to use a VPN to watch content not available in your market becomes abundantly obvious.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Middle Earth Enterprises Attempts To Block Wine Importer From Using The Word ‘Hobbit’

        We’ve seen all kinds of strange trademark actions revolving around the works of Tolkien, including threats against holiday campsites and pubs. The dual threat of dumb in these disputes always ends up being both the protectionist aims against businesses that don’t operate anywhere near the literary or theatrical realms in which Tolkien’s works normally operate and the sketchy history of the term “hobbit” itself, with it being rather clear that Tolkien both didn’t invent the word itself and actually based his hobbit characters on previous fictional works. This of course hasn’t precluded anyone with any kind of ownership stake in rights associated with Tolkien from sending out threats to anyone and everyone that in any way uses the term.

The Article Which Reinforces Rumours About Christoph Ernst Replacing President Battistelli at the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents, Rumour at 10:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

News from Munich…

Munich tower

Summary: A somewhat belated translation of an important recent article from Süddeutsche Zeitung

THE EPO coverage will resume tonight (there’s much more on the way), but in the mean time, as we have just noticed a translation of this article over at SUEPO’s site, here is the English version [PDF] with bits highlighted:

2 March 2016, 19:01

Front Lines Hardening: A Public Authority Teetering on the Brink

Header

Strife at the European Patent Office between President and staff veering more and more out of control

By Katja Riedel

According to the announcement on Wednesday by Benoît Battistelli, President of the European Patent Office (EPO), it is supposed to be an “agreement that truly breaks new ground”. For the first time in the history of the international organization, the word is that a staff union is now being recognized as a social partner, and social peace with the workforce, which up to now has been decidedly hostile, accordingly appears to be just around the corner. However, the Office has chosen to overlook one minor detail: The union with which Battistelli has signed the memorandum of understanding is called FFPE, and, in the world of the EPO, with a workforce more than 7,000 strong, that union so far boasts less than 100 members. And at the Office headquarters in Munich, where some 4,000 people work, and a war has been raging for three years between staff representatives and the President, there is not one single FFPE member. The social dialogue accordingly resembles more of a monologue.

The fact is that in the patent world, which is all but closed to outsiders, another staff union is deeply rooted. This is called Suepo, and it represents about half of the personnel. For decades Suepo was very powerful, and what it said really counted. That is, until Battistelli came, and, on orders from the 38 Member States which had elected him, set about shaping the Office towards greater efficiency. Since then both sides have been engaged in a bitter power struggle, but with unfair resources. The President has far-reaching powers, and he is not afraid to use them, liberally, which has ultimately led from escalation to escalation. For three long years Suepo has been protesting, not just internally, against Battistelli and what they see as his excessive authoritarianism, against reforms which restrict the fundamental rights of staff members, and against Battistelli’s extremely high-handed and heavily centralized management style.

For everyone to see, staff members have marched in their thousands through Munich and to the consulates, seeking to push the Member States into at least debating Battistelli’s reforms with him. But the only body which can give orders to Battistelli has long shown itself to side with the President, and has been gentle in its admonishments, even extending his term of office during the dispute and before the expiry date, until 2018. But now it looks as if Battistelli has overstepped the mark. Since last autumn he has been hitting back hard, suspending a patent judge, who in fact, given the power structure, does not actually come under his jurisdiction at all, which has caused a considerable stir in the various governing bodies as well as on the patent scene in general. According to the findings of an internal investigation unit, the man is supposed to have used more than 20 aliases to conduct a campaign of defamation against the President and other leading executives, and thereby created major upset within the Office. The man disputes the accusations. At the beginning of the year, Battistelli then dismissed Suepo chief executive Elizabeth Hardon, due to alleged bullying and complicity with the judge. Two other members of the Suepo governing body went with her.

Currently doing the rounds in the Office is a letter from the head of the Administrative Council, Jesper Kongstad, a Dane, who once had his eyes on the Presidency. Since then, he has been a Battistelli man – or, more precisely, he was. Kongstad has indicated, on behalf of 28 Member States, that there was something of a showdown with the President within the close management circle at two meetings in February. The main issue appears to have been the social conflict within the Office. In particular, the governing body wanted to discuss the case of the dismissed union members with him. Regrettably, it seems that it was impossible to engage the President in a meaningful dialogue, according to Kongstad’s letter. During the meeting he apparently rejected the requests out of hand, because the Member States were trying to undermine his authority. These attempts included the disciplinary issues as well as allowing the work of the controversial investigation unit to be vetted by an outside source. Battistelli appears to have then left the meeting.

Header

According to some newspapers, such as the Dutch De Telegraaf, the word was that Battistelli had envisaged stepping down, and was negotiating a golden handshake of 18 million Euro. “Utter rubbish” was the response from the circle around the President, and things appear to have calmed down again. Battistelli is said to be prepared to compromise on four out of six issues, but significantly not with regard to disciplinary procedures and external monitoring – the key points. Suepo are accused of stirring up the conflict alone, in order to secure their own survival. The union apparently refused to have further dealings with Battistelli due to the dismissals, nor were they prepared to enter into any agreement which would de facto have caused them to forego further influence.

How things turn out for the Office, for Battistelli, and for social peace, could well be decided in mid-March. Specifically, the demands from the Administrative Council will be high on the formal agenda at the next meeting of its full body. A straightforward majority of 38 votes could then force the President to implement the demands. Should he not do so, the Administrative Council could then, at the next meeting in June, call for him to step down, which would require three-quarters of the votes. The name of a possible successor for the top job is in fact already being bandied about, that of the German member of the Administrative Council, Christoph Ernst, from the Federal Ministry of Justice. Word has it that Battistelli considers that not even to be an option. He is in the best of moods – so it is said.

There is something rather strange (infighting perhaps) going on at Süddeutsche Zeitung, but we’re likely to cover this some time in the future when there’s more clarity on the matter.

Over the weekend we plan to work on making local copies of the TV program which covered the EPO scandals earlier this month (making a wave in Germany and changing public opinion). The EPO’s high-level management is evidently desperate to make it go away, to no longer be accessible online (this has already happened) and gradually be forgotten.

For Its Survival, Microsoft is Trying to Turn Into an Aggressive Patent Tax and Advertising Company, Forces Windows Users to Play Along

Posted in America, Deception, Microsoft, Patents, Vista 10, Windows at 9:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also openwashing for government contracts, especially when/where government requests standards and code

Snow leopard
A leopard can paint over some spots, but a leopard is still a leopard

Summary: The latest strategic moves from Microsoft and how they relate to the whole “warming up to Open Source” or “loves Linux” PR charade

WINDOWS revenue is shrinking. Android (Linux) is taking the lion’s share of the market and the price of Vista 10 fell to something like zero. This is why Microsoft is now using patents in an effort to monetise Android and other GNU/Linux-based operating systems, such as Chrome OS. As Simon Phipps put it this morning [1], “Microsoft announced it had successfully extracted patent licenses out of Wistron of Taiwan for its use of Android and out of Rakuten of Japan for use of Linux and Android. Though there’s been something of a lull in patent aggression lately, it has a long history and generates a significant revenue stream. [...] Microsoft wants members of the Android and Linux communities where it claims membership to pay up crates of cash for patent licenses or face destructive litigation.”

“…Microsoft uses its openwashing of SQL Server as an excuse/marketing tactic, as evidenced by the last article below.”For Microsoft, however, patent extortion is apparently not enough. The company is so greedy that, based on [2] (a Windows proponent bemoaning Windows’ direction), it now further escalates forced ‘upgrade’ to Vista 10 and puts more ads in it [3], even in lock screens (we didn’t find time to cover this development because of heavy EPO coverage).

Despite all this, there are still Microsoft layoffs (we wrote about the latest round thereof earlier this week) and now that the US government, in spite of heavy Microsoft lobbying, leans towards FOSS [4] (there is a lot of press coverage about this right now e.g. [5-11]), Microsoft uses its openwashing of SQL Server as an excuse/marketing tactic, as evidenced by the last article below [12].

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft loves open source? Only when it’s convenient

    But while this has been going on, you’re not hearing about another part of Microsoft. Simultaneous with the Eclipse and SQL Server announcements, Microsoft announced it had successfully extracted patent licenses out of Wistron of Taiwan for its use of Android and out of Rakuten of Japan for use of Linux and Android. Though there’s been something of a lull in patent aggression lately, it has a long history and generates a significant revenue stream.

    Yes, that’s right: With one face, Microsoft wants us to forgive and forget the “cancer” comments, the dirty tricks, and the standards fixing. Even as the body of SCO lays slightly warm following the Redmond-financed fight against Linux, Microsoft wants us to overlook more than a decade of hostility and accept it as a full-status community member because it showed up with code, cash, and compliments. But with the other face, Microsoft wants members of the Android and Linux communities where it claims membership to pay up crates of cash for patent licenses or face destructive litigation.

  2. Beware! This Windows 7 And 8.1 Security Update Is Basically A Windows 10 Downloader

    Microsoft has hidden a Windows 10 ad-generator/downloader in a latest security update KB 3139929. This security update is meant for IE11 users who are running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. So, before installing any Patch Tuesday, take a moment to look at what’s inside.

  3. Windows patch KB 3139929: When a security update is not a security update

    If Microsoft’s documentation is correct, installing Patch Tuesday’s KB 3139929 security update for Internet Explorer also installs a new Windows 10 ad-generating routine called KB 3146449.

    Many people — present company included — feel that putting an ad generator inside a security patch crosses way over the line. In fact, you have to ask yourself if there are any lines any more.

    [...]

    If the documentation can be verified, Microsoft’s intrusive Get Windows 10 behavior has reached new lows.

  4. Leveraging American Ingenuity through Reusable and Open Source Software
  5. White House continues push to open source federal code

    The White House on Thursday issued a draft policy for public comment that would support making computer code used by federal agencies open source.

    It’s part of an on-going effort by the Obama administration to make government computer systems more efficient both by using open source programs and by releasing code written by government agencies both inside and outside the government to use.

  6. OMB’s 3rd policy memo in a week targets software purchasing

    The Office of Management and Budget’s busy week continued Thursday with its third policy memo in the last seven days.

    Along with a draft data consolidation guidance and a final mandate for every agency to set up a Buyers Club for innovative acquisitions, OMB now is taking aim at the software that runs in those data centers and is bought by those procurement experts.

    Federal Chief Information Officer Tony Scott released a draft open source software policy March 10 with a goal of reducing duplicative purchases and taking advantage of industry best practices.

  7. Are you ready to share your code?

    The Office of Management and Budget has released a draft policy to improve how custom code developed for the government – including code developed by contractors – is acquired and distributed.

  8. White House wants more sharable, reusable code

    The White House is looking to make software code used by the federal agencies more open, sharable and reusable. In a March 10 blog post, federal CIO Tony Scott announced a new draft Federal Source Code policy that would create a new set of rules for custom code developed by or for the federal government.

  9. Agencies would face new open source software requirements under OMB draft policy

    The White House issued a draft policy today that would require federal agencies to open source a significant portion of its software code. Under the proposed Federal Source Code Policy, the Office of Management and Budget would pilot the requirement to share publicly all custom code developed in-house by federal IT personnel and at least 20 percent of newly developed custom code by third party developers or vendors on behalf of a covered agency.

  10. OMB moves to make all federal code open source

    The administration has been looking to embrace the best practices in software development, using innovation shops like 18F and the U.S. Digital Service to test and promote methods like agile development and making use of open source code.

    Now, the entire federal government will be getting on board with the latter. The Office of Management and Budget released the first draft of the Federal Source Code policy, a mandate to make federally-developed code available to everyone.

  11. New OMB policy aims to make federal agency code open source

    The White House will release a draft policy Thursday for sharing source code among federal agencies, including a pilot program that will make a portion of federal code open source.

  12. Microsoft looking for feds to trial new SQL for Linux

    Analysts said the move would enable the company to compete more effectively with Oracle and IBM, who already produce Linux-compatible database products.

Abogado de Patentes Joeri Beetz Explica ¿Porqué los Resultados de la EPO son una MENTIRA?

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 9:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original/English

Publicado in Decepción, Europa, Patentes at 8:01 pm por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Joeri Beetz's chart
Image credit: Joeri Beetz

Sumario: Lo que el equipo de PR de la EPO, que esta alineada con los medios conjuntamente con FTI Consulting (la que disfruta de un presupuesto secreto de 80,000 euros al mes), nos dice acerca de los ¨resultados¨ de la EPO es básicamente una mentira, o propaganda basada en estadísticas engañosas.

LOS abusos de la gerencia de la EPO son rarámente justificables, con la excepción de ser presentados como consecuencia de incrementar la productividad, salida, resultados o algo alrededor de esas líneas. La gente que insiste en la justicia y derechos humanos estan siendo caricaturizados como obstáculos a la productividad y un obstáculo en la carretera a la necesaria reforma. Pero alguién lo suficientemente inteligente para trabajar como exáminador de patentes en la EPO sabe que eso son paparruchas. He revisado jornales internacionales en el pasado y se que trabajos apresurados y bajo presión producen resultados equivocados, perezosos y trabajo en vano. Pobres papeles pueden caerse a través de la red y un infeliz reeditor puede malamente rechazar reportajes decentes o perder la huella de ellos.

El año pasado repetidamente mencionamos (varias veces en realidad) las razones por las que los ¨resultados¨ de la EPO són simplemente mentiras inválidas. Señalamos ello, basados en numerosas fuentes, ambas externas e internas. Es SIMPLEMENTE PROPAGANDA, como lo hicimos notar el año pasado. Los números no significan nada. O alternativamente, no significan que periodista crédulos son (mal) llevaron a creer.

“Esto también incluye las solicitudes PCT presentadas en China, que nunca va a traducir en cualquier idioma europeo.”
      –Joeri Beetz
Bueno, gracias a Dios suficientes abogados de patentes tomaron nota de un artículo de Joeri Beetz’s, el que puede ser encontrado aquí. En sus propias palabras: ¨En la primera semana de Marzo, como en cualquier otro año, la EPO ha publicado sus estadísticas de aplicaciones de patentes del pasado año. Como en cualquier otro año, el principal objetivo es mostrar que la EPO se ha convertido en más importante. Aunqe el numero de directas aplicaciones en la EPO ha sido más o menos constante en la última década (+2.7% en 2015, similar nivel al del 2005), un escenario de crecimiento deaño sobre año es presentado al añadir todas las aplicaciones de PCT. Con ello quiero decir no sólo the PCT aplicaciones en la EPO al entrar su fase Europea (pagos de matrícula, solicitud de examinación,…), pero realmente ´todas´. Esto incluye aplicaciones de PCT de China que nunca fueron traducidas a algún lenguaje Europeo. Del crecimiento del último año de 4,500 aplicaciones (+1.6%), 2,821 son PCT (+1.3%) y 1,679 directamente EP (+2.8%). [...] Otros números interesantes de la WIPO: El pasado año la EPO como Oficina Recibidora de la PCT, recibió 7.2% menos aplicaciones y la EPO fue seleccionada como Autoridad de Busqueda Internacional en menos de 11.1% aplicaciones. Con una merma del total de PCT aplicaciones (-9.4%), por supuesto no es una sorpresa. Sin embargo es interesante ver que el uso de la EPO como ISA va de caída más rápidamente que el número de aplicaciones PCT (ambas total y con la EPO como rO). Aparentemente, la EPO se está convirtiendo en menos popular como autoridad de búsqueda. Entradas regionales EP por aplicaciones PCT creció un 6% este año (EPO count). Hay que tener en cuenta que entradas regionales representan aplicaciones PCT que fueron solicitadas hace año y medio. Por lo tanto este número no refleja la preferencia de aplicaciones el 2015, pero también en dos o tres años anteriores.¨

Eso es simplemente el quid de la cuestión. Hay ahora más ángulos desde los cuales enfrentar esto y la gente que actualmente trabaja para la EPO nos dijeron que esos números son ENGAÑOSOS. Sin embargo, la cuenta Twitter de EPO esta republicando y reciclandolos varias veces por día (desde le 3/3 día de propaganda). Aqui estan los medios británicos, imbécilmente repitiendo como loros lo que el equipo PR de la EPO les dijeron que escriban (ellos también mienten a los periodistas y sus empleados). Los medios cabilderos corporátivos hicieron lo mismo al insinuar/republicar una publicación de presna (como lo hicimos notar anteriórmente, la EPO actualmente pagó por publicaciones de prensa para diseminar esta propaganda engañosa de ¨resultados¨).

“Al parecer, la EPO es cada vez menos popular como una autoridad de búsqueda.”
      –Joeri Beetz
Los ¨resultados¨ de la propaganda de la EPO en Suiza on en sus medios también es una ¨cosa¨, basado en esos dos nuevos ejemplos [1, 2]. ¿Hicieróns sus autores un chequeo de la realidad? Por supuesto que NO!. Ellos no se comportan como periodistas pero más como escritores ¨en prestamo¨ para la EPO. Por ello es esto que estamos viendo un montón de lo que los medios pasan sin cuestionar la procedencia de las declaraciones.

A propósito, la razón de que Suiza tenga más patents per capita no es lo que la EPO quiere que creamos. Las patentes son indicadores de riqueza, no innovación, ya que aquellos con dinero patentan cosas raramente, a diferencia de los que implementan cosas, como los programadores de la India (donde las patentes de software son verboten acertadamente).

“Conocedores de EPO, uno de los cuales tiene acceso a dichos datos, admite que hay algo mal y, sin embargo – todos los hechos sean condenados! – Los medios de comunicación sigue cayendo por ello.”Francis Jeffrey, quien tiene patentes asignadas a el, nos dijo el otro día: ¨El efecto de esto ha empeorado con la adición de renovación de matrículas: la UPSPTO ha impuesto cuotas cada cuatro años desde la administración Clinton / Bush¨

No piensen que sólo lo de arriba demuestr la invalidez de los ¨resultados¨ de la EPO. Previamente hemos cubierto otros indicadores. Conocedores de EPO, uno de los cuales tiene acceso a dichos datos, admite que hay algo mal y, sin embargo – todos los hechos sean condenados! – Los medios de comunicación sigue cayendo por ello.

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