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04.30.16

India is Having Another Taste of the Dangers of Western Patents, Must Learn to Reject Software Patents in the Face of Great Pressure

Posted in Asia, Patents at 3:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Low-quality software patents (on abstract ideas) are keeping India controlled by foreign multinationals

Bangalore, India
Bangalore, India

Summary: The growing software giant which is India continues to face cruel and aggressive lobbying from the West, enabling the West to control India by patents that should not exist in the first place

INDIA is currently under a lot of pressure from US lobbyists because it repeatedly rejected software patents. In recent weeks alone we saw the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) putting India under pressure and days ago it was USTR. Colonialism never truly ended and the empire of corporations vainly assumes that it can impose on India whatever law it desires.

“Don’t listen to the IT giants” is the headline of this new article from the Indian Express, which even quotes Bill Gates to highlight his hypocrisy (Microsoft is among the forces now lobbying India for software patents). To quote the start of this good article:

The Indian government has rightly rested its Digital India initiative on a series of measures to liberalise the economy. One of those measures of free-market wisdom, however, the usual government-cheering section suddenly seems to be irrationally against. The PMO will be receiving from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on April 30 a report on the Patent Office’s Computer-Related Inventions Guidelines (CRI), in which parties who usually applaud free-market measures are horrified to discover that Section 3(k) of the Patent Act really does prohibit government-awarded monopolies in software, and that the controller of patents is implementing the statutory command.

Software patenting is not a requirement of TRIPs, or of any current international trade law. The controller’s new CRI guidelines actually implement a test for software per se — unpatentable owing to Section 3(k) — which is close to the “machine or transformation” test all-but-imposed by the US Supreme Court in a series of cases over the last five years, in all of which we were amici curiae, urging the court in its current direction.

Software patenting is not in the Indian national economic interest. “Software,” as Bill Gates used to say, “is an IQ business”. When non-Indian firms can get software patents in India, the effect is to hobble the Indian IQ advantage, by making what many talented Indian programmers could otherwise use to make new innovations in software the property of the non-Indian patenting company. As our organisation, SFLC.in, has shown in its research report on the subject, more than 90 per cent of software patents awarded in India, before the rectification imposed by the new guidelines, were issued to foreign corporates.

Incidentally, looking elsewhere in yesterday’s news, Ericsson comes under fire in India because of its use of patent trolls (also in the EU) to extract money out of competitors, using — in part — software patents. As one article put it yesterday: “In March 2013, the Swedish multinational Ericsson sued Micromax for patent infringement, setting in motion a series of events, with the potential to disturb India’s mobile phone dream. Then last month the Delhi High Court recognised the authority of the regulator – the Competition Commission of India (CCI) – to probe Ericsson for its allegedly anti-competitive conduct.”

Indians should get more active (in the activism sense) and work to abolish software patents in India once and for all, identifying all those occupying forces that keep trying to revive the effort for software patents in India (including new loopholes for these). Not only does India have nothing to gain from software patents; it has a lot to lose from them.

04.29.16

Links 29/4/2016: GNOME 3.21.1, Fairphone

Posted in News Roundup at 6:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • RMS Gets Award, OwnCloud Founder Resigns & More…
  • Coreboot Gets Ported To A Unique Industrial Board

    While the Siemens MC_BDX1 will likely be unavailable for purchase as a computer motherboard similar to some of the past Siemens Coreboot ports, it’s still worth mentioning and interesting watching them bring Coreboot to more industrial boards. The MC_BDX1 in this case is a unique motherboard based off Intel’s Camelback Mountain CRB platform, a.k.a. a Xeon D Broadwell motherboard.

  • 4 keys to leading open source teams

    I like to be busy and have a lot of energy to be a part of leadership teams in open source communities, aside from my fulltime job as Developer Evangelist for Cisco in the DevNet.

    I’m a community leader and member of the PHP and the Joomla communities. I’ve been part of the Joomla organization since 2011 and have held leadership roles for the past few years. Previously, I was a Board of Director for Open Source Matters (OSM), the organization that supports the Joomla! Project legally, financially, and from all business aspects. For the past year, I’ve been on the Joomla Production Leadership Team (PLT), which is responsible for coordinating the production of the Joomla CMS and Framework, including the code, documentation, and localization. I was brought on to help evangelise and market the Joomla project in the greater developer communities by speaking about our community and code. I also run the Seattle PHP meetup and Seattle Joomla meetup. And, I organize the Pacific Northwest PHP Conference in Seattle (PNWPHP).

  • Events

  • SaaS/Back End

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Coming up: the Month of LibreOffice

      There’s so much fantastic work going on in LibreOffice at the moment, in all areas of the project: development, translations, bug fixing, documentation, user support and much more. The community is doing stellar work to make the software better, faster, more reliable, easier to use, and available for everyone.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

    • Ionic Downloads $8.5M to Rev Up Business Around Open-Source Software

      But the company saw a bigger opportunity with Ionic, which allows developers to use Web-based languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to make mobile apps that work across different platforms—meaning users can simultaneously create iOS, Android, and Windows apps. The software is geared toward Web developers, many of whom have never built a mobile app before. One of the goals is to help companies’ existing staff of Web developers quickly and easily build mobile apps, thereby saving businesses time and money they would’ve spent to hire or contract with more mobile-savvy developers.

  • BSD

    • LLVM Pulls In More Than $300,000 USD A Year In Sponsorships

      The LLVM Foundation published its plans and budgets this week for 2016. There are a few interesting details when analyzing the information.

      The post at LLVM.org explains of the LLVM Foundation for those unfamiliar, “The LLVM Foundation originally grew out of the need to have a legal entity to plan and support the annual LLVM Developers’ Meeting and LLVM infrastructure. However, as the Foundation was created we saw a need for help in other areas related to the LLVM project, compilers, and tools. The LLVM Foundation has established 3 main programs: Educational Outreach, Grants & Scholarships, and Women in Compilers & Tools.”

    • LLVMpipe Ported To Android x86 For Running Android Apps Without GPU Support

      For x86 Android users, patches are available for making use of Mesa’s LLVMpipe driver in Gallium3D for cases where hardware drivers are not available.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • ACM RECOGNIZES MAJOR TECHNICAL CONTRIBUTIONS THAT HAVE ADVANCED THE COMPUTING FIELD

      Richard Stallman, recipient of the ACM Software System Award for the development and leadership of GCC (GNU Compiler Collection), which has enabled extensive software and hardware innovation, and has been a lynchpin of the free software movement. A compiler is a computer program that takes the source code of another program and translates it into machine code that a computer can run directly. GCC compiles code in various programming languages, including Ada, C, C++, Cobol, Java, and FORTRAN. It produces machine code for many kinds of computers, and can run on Unix and GNU/Linux systems as well as others.

      GCC was developed for the GNU operating system, which includes thousands of programs from various projects, including applications, libraries, tools such as GCC, and even games. Most importantly, the GNU system is entirely free (libre) software, which means users are free to run all these programs, to study and change their source code, and to redistribute copies with or without changes. GNU is usually used with the kernel, Linux. Stallman has previously been recognized with ACM’s Grace Murray Hopper Award.

    • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: April 29th
    • Tumbleweed gets glibc 2.23

      There has not been a new snapshot for openSUSE Tumbleweed for the past week, and it has been a couple weeks since the last time it was discussed on news.opensuse.org.

      A new snapshot of Tumbleweed arrived today and the reason for not having one the past week is that the entire rolling release distribution was rebuilt on the Open Build Service and thoroughly tested by openQA.

  • Public Services/Government

    • FRAND Is Not A Compliance Issue

      The European Commission has been persuaded by lobbyists to change its position on standards to permit the use of FRAND license terms for patents applicable to technologies within those standards. This is a massive mistake that will harm innovation by chilling open source community engagement.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Saving Lives with Open-Source Electrocardiography

      A few months ago, MobilECG wowed us with a formidable electrocardiograph (ECG, also EKG) machine in the format of a business card, complete with an OLED display. We’ve seen business card hacks before, but that was the coolest. But that’s peanuts compared with the serious project that it supports: making an open-source ECG machine that can actually save lives by being affordable enough to be where it’s needed, when it’s needed.

  • Programming/Development

    • Why and how I became a software engineer

      Throughout my experiences, the fascinating weeks I’d spent writing out DOS commands remained a prominent influence, bleeding into little side projects and occupying valuable study time. As soon as Geocities became available to all Yahoo! Users, I created a website where I published blurry pictures that I’d taken on a tiny digital camera. I created websites for free, helped friends and family fix issues they had with their computers, and created a library database for a church.

      This meant that I was always researching and trying to find more information about how things could be made better. The Internet gods blessed me and open source fell into my lap. Suddenly, 30-day trials and restrictive licenses became a ghost of computing past. I could continue to create using GIMP, Inkscape, and OpenOffice.

    • PHP version 5.5.35, 5.6.21 and 7.0.6
    • Learn Perl Online for Free
    • Top Ten Programmers of All Time

      3. Linus Torvalds

      The man who created Linux Kernel. Linux operating system is a clone to the Unix operating system, written originally by Linus Torvalds and a loosely knit team of programmers all around the world.

      [...]

      5. Richard Stallman

      He founded the Free Software Foundation, developed the GNU Compiler Collection(GCC). Richard Stallman is the prophet of the free software movement. He understood the dangers of software patents years ago. Now that this has become a crucial issue in the world. He has hugely successful efforts to establish the idea of “Free Software”.

    • Node.js version 6 is now available

Leftovers

  • EU Regulators Can Barely Contain Their Desire To Attack Google And Facebook, Believing It Will Help Local Competitors

    Look, we warned everyone. Back in December of last year, we told you that the EU Commission was looking to put in place new regulations that were clearly designed to hamper Google and Facebook with needless regulations. It was pretty obvious from the way it phrased its broken survey form, that this was the intent. We, along with a bunch of internet startups told the EU that this was a mistake. We explained that Google and Facebook are big and they’ll be able to handle whatever regulations the EU throws at them, because they can just throw money at the problem.

    But… everyone else? They’re going to get screwed over. The folks over at Euractiv have got their hands on a leaked draft of the plan to regulate online platforms, and it’s more or less what we expected, and what was hinted at a few weeks ago.

  • Science

  • Hardware

    • USB Type C speed test: Here’s how slow your laptop’s port could be

      USB Type C is the intriguing new port that began appearing in laptops, tablets, phones, and other devices well over a year ago, but we had no real way test its throughput performance until now. Thanks to Sandisk’s Extreme 900, we’re finally able to push that tiny reversible port to its limits. To do that I gathered up no fewer than eight laptops equipped with USB Type C ports, and threw in a desktop PCIe card for good measure too.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Outrage and outsourcing in Russian healthcare

      The doctor is out. Hunger strikes, mistreatment of patients and general desperation are beginning to seem like a feature – as opposed to a bug – of Russia’s healthcare system.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Hacking Slack accounts: As easy as searching GitHub

      A surprisingly large number of developers are posting their Slack login credentials to GitHub and other public websites, a practice that in many cases allows anyone to surreptitiously eavesdrop on their conversations and download proprietary data exchanged over the chat service.

      According to a blog post published Thursday, company researchers recently estimated that about 1,500 access tokens were publicly available, some belonging to people who worked for Fortune 500 companies, payment providers, Internet service providers, and health care providers. The researchers privately reported their findings to Slack, and the chat service said it regularly monitors public sites for posts that publish the sensitive tokens.

    • Time for a patch: six vulns fixed in NTP daemon
    • NTP Daemon Gets Fixes for Vulnerabilities Causing DoS and Authentication Bypass
    • Cisco Spots New NTP Bugs
    • Network Time Keeps on Ticking with Long-Running NTP Project [Ed: corrected URL]
    • Open Source Milagro Project Aims to Fix Web Security for Cloud, Mobile, IoT

      As the Internet continues to both grow in size and widen in scope, so do demands on the supporting infrastructure. The number of users and devices, amount of activity, internationalization of the web, and new devices that range from mobile apps and cloud instances to “Internet of Things,” put strain on the system. Not just for bandwidth or service availability, but also on the assurance of trust — trust that the entities at each end are who (or what) they say they are, and that their communications are private and secure.

    • M2Mi Obtains DHS Open-Source Cryptographic Tool Development Funds

      Machine-to-Machine Intelligence Corp. has been awarded $75,000 in funds by the Department of Homeland Security‘s science and technology directorate to create a deployable cryptographic protocol for an Internet of Things security initiative.

    • Encrypted Network Traffic Comes at a Cost

      The use of encryption over the Internet is growing. Fueled by Edward Snowden’s revelations on the extent of NSA and GCHQ content monitoring, encryption is now increasingly provided by the big tech companies as part of their standard product offerings. It’s effectiveness can be seen in the continuing demands by different governments for these same tech companies to provide government backdoors for that encryption. Encryption works: it safeguards privacy.

      Against this background, the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt network traffic is likely to grow dramatically. Google is encouraging this. It already uses HTTPS as a positive weight for web sites in its search algorithm, while current rumors suggest it will soon start to place a warning red X in the URL bar of sites that do not use it. Taken together, these are strong incentives for businesses that don’t currently use SSL/TLS to start doing so. Some predictions believe that almost 70% of network traffic will be encrypted by the end of this year.

    • Raptor Engineering Updates Details On Their POWER8-Based Talos Secure Workstation

      Raptor Engineering has published new information around their proposed high-performance Talos Secure Workstation that for around $3k is a high-end POWER8 motherboard.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Tony Blair courted Chinese leaders for Saudi prince’s oil firm

      Tony Blair obtained a “blessing” from Chinese leaders for a company owned by a Saudi prince to do business in China as part of an arrangement that paid the former UK prime minister’s firm £41,000 a month and a 2% commission on any multimillion-pound contracts he helped to secure.

      A series of documents, seen by the Guardian, show how Blair courted some of the most influential Chinese political leaders in 2010 and then introduced them to the Saudi-owned company he worked with, PetroSaudi. The company was not allowed to divulge his role without permission, according to the contract.

    • ‘It’s Remarkable How Little Real News Comes From Saudi Arabia’

      Janine Jackson: The New York Daily News cover is a photograph of Barack Obama with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, and the headline “Oil Protect You, Sire.” It’s far from elegant, but the paper’s trying to say something about the relationship CNN likened to “an unhappy marriage in which both sides, for better or worse, are stuck with each other.” News of Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia changed by the hour: First we were told things were chilly, then that they’d been smoothed over. But people who might want to understand more about the abiding goals of the US alliance with a monarchy where women can’t have bank accounts could easily remain confused.

    • The Coming World of ‘Peak Oil Demand,’ Not ‘Peak Oil’

      On the structural side, global demand for energy had, in recent years, ceased to rise quickly enough to soak up all the crude oil pouring onto the market, thanks in part to new supplies from Iraq and especially from the expanding shale fields of the United States. This oversupply triggered the initial 2014 price drop when Brent crude – the international benchmark blend – went from a high of $115 on June 19th to $77 on November 26th, the day before a fateful OPEC meeting in Vienna. The next day, OPEC members, led by Saudi Arabia, failed to agree on either production cuts or a freeze, and the price of oil went into freefall.

      The failure of that November meeting has been widely attributed to the Saudis’ desire to kill off new output elsewhere – especially shale production in the United States – and to restore their historic dominance of the global oil market. Many analysts were also convinced that Riyadh was seeking to punish regional rivals Iran and Russia for their support of the Assad regime in Syria (which the Saudis seek to topple).

    • Hiding the Indonesia Massacre Files

      Perhaps nowhere does U.S. hypocrisy over human rights stand out more clearly than Indonesia’s “Year of Living Dangerously” slaughter of vast numbers of people in 1965, dirty secrets that Jonathan Marshall says finally deserve airing.

    • It’s Not About Drones, It’s About Lazy War

      Clinton dabbled in other conflicts, such as bombing what turned out to be a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory in 1998. And yes, Kosovo was his big blowout event in 1999. Yet, he didn’t walk away from office with the reputation as a warmonger. If anything, his stickiest critique was that he didn’t kill Osama Bin Laden when he had the chance. That comes from the right. Mostly on the left, Clinton is loved and missed – or at least a world in which a presidential sex scandal was the biggest news is missed.

      Bush Jr. was loud, and obvious in his wars. The damage that his administration wrought in the Middle East will be felt for generations. And so, yes, Obama felt like a revelation simply because he wasn’t Bush. He even said a few things that were called “apologizing for America” by offended hawks. This usually meant that Obama was admitting America had not been perfect in its foreign policy choices in the past.

      [...]

      The Obama administration has stretched the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force to impossible lengths, using it to justify excursions into Syria and elsewhere that Daskal very nearly calls illegal (she goes with “expansive legal interpretation” instead). Perhaps hoping to use a carrot instead of a stick, Daskal suggests Obama knows better than this. Yet, there’s little evidence to suggest that he does. And she notes, Obama’s suggested a narrower AUMF to justify his current adventuring, but intended for it to be piled atop the old one, thereby adding, and not extracting war-making powers.

    • Drone Wars Produce PTSD Victims on Both Sides

      “When we are in our darkest places and we have a lot to worry about and we feel guilty about our past actions, it’s really tough to describe what that feeling is like,” says Daniel, a whistleblower who took part in drone operations and whose last name is not revealed in National Bird. Speaking of the suicidal feelings that sometimes plagued him while he was involved in killing halfway across the planet, he adds, “Having the image in your head of taking your own life is not a good feeling.”

    • Trump’s Foreign Policy Mishmash

      Donald Trump’s “big” foreign policy speech was a mishmash of his reasonable calls for American restraint blended with some bluster about unleashing military force, salted with some predictable Obama bashing, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • No Dissent from Anti-Russian Propaganda

      The European Union prides itself on its commitment to free expression, except apparently when a documentarian diverges from the official line bashing Russia. Then silencing dissent becomes the “responsible” response, as Gilbert Doctorow explains.

    • Pentagon Denies War Crimes Allegations In Kunduz Hospital Killings

      Nearly seven months after the first shots were fired, the Pentagon has released its full report detailing the night of chaos and horror that left 42 patients and staffers dead at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. In publishing the highly anticipated account, the military concluded that its attack did not amount to a war crime because its effects were not intentional, a view at odds with certain interpretations of international law.

    • Doctors Without Borders Launches New Solidarity Action as U.S. Military Brushes Off Deadly Kunduz Attack as ‘Accidental’ (Video)

      The International medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) was attacked Wednesday in the Syrian city of Aleppo. According to the charity, the direct U.S. airstrike killed more than a dozen doctors and patients including “one of the city’s last pediatricians.”

    • The Joke of U.S. Justice and “Accountability” When They Bomb a Hospital

      Ever since the U.S. last October bombed a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the U.S. vehemently denied guilt while acting exactly like a guilty party would. First, it changed its story repeatedly. Then, it blocked every effort – including repeated demands from MSF – to have an independent investigation determine what really happened. As May Jeong documented in a richly reported story for The Intercept yesterday, the Afghan government – rather than denying that the hospital was targeted – instead repeatedly claimed that doing so was justified; moreover, they were sympathetic to calls for an independent investigation, which the U.S. blocked. What is beyond dispute, as Jeong wrote, is that the “211 shells that were fired . . . were felt by the 42 men, women, and children who were killed.” MSF insisted the bombing was “deliberate,” and ample evidence supports that charge.

    • As More American Boots Hit the Ground in Syria, U.S. Parses “Boots” and “Ground”

      After President Obama announced on Monday that he would deploy 250 additional special operations troops to Syria, State Department spokesperson John Kirby tried to deny that Obama had ever promised not to send “boots on the ground” there.

    • “To demand peace is not a crime”: Turkish academics on trial

      Last Friday, April 21st, four Turkish academics, Meral Camci, Kivanc Ersoy, Muzeffer Kaya and Esra Mungan, after five weeks remanded in prison, were brought to the Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul to face charges of making “propaganda for terrorism” and of association with the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), labelled as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US. The indictment accused them under Article 7(2) of Turkey’s anti-terror law and if convicted they could face sentences of up to 7 ½ years in detention.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Why Climate Change Is No Longer Shocking Enough

      Back in the real world, 97% of climate scientists have determined that climate change is happening and caused by human activity. And, it’s already affecting people and places all over the world. Climate change should be the issue of the 2016 election, but the only way for this to happen is if the media partners with the people to put actual issues ahead of circus-like entertainment value. This is also where young people must come in.

    • Droughts trigger tree ‘heart attacks’

      Research identifying survival traits in different tree species could prove vital in helping to reduce the massive losses caused by heat extremes as the world warms.

    • $5 Million In Arizona Higher Education Funding Is Going To Koch-Backed ‘Freedom Schools’

      Five million dollars has been earmarked for conservative institutes at Arizona’s public universities.

    • These Republican Lawmakers Are Turning To Climate Action To Help Keep Their Seats

      For most Senate Republicans, climate change is an anathema: 70 percent of Republicans in the Senate deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and humans are the main cause.

      But a growing number of liberal and moderate Republican voters are concerned about climate change and want their elected officials to reflect that concern. And that leaves Republicans in tight campaigns for reelection with an interesting choice: embrace climate action, long seen as a liberal stance, or risk losing crucial voters.

    • Using the “Public Trust” to Frame “Break Free From Fossil Fuels” Actions

      Governments have no more right to authorize the emission of greenhouse gases that destroy the climate than the trust officers of a bank have to loot the assets placed under their care. , The people of the world have a right to our common natural resources. And we have a right, if necessary, to protect our common assets against those who would destroy them.

    • Widespread loss of ocean oxygen to become noticeable in 2030s

      A reduction in the amount of oxygen dissolved in the oceans due to climate change is already discernible in some parts of the world and should be evident across large regions of the oceans between 2030 and 2040, according to a new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

      Scientists know that a warming climate can be expected to gradually sap the ocean of oxygen, leaving fish, crabs, squid, sea stars, and other marine life struggling to breathe. But it’s been difficult to determine whether this anticipated oxygen drain is already having a noticeable impact.

    • Save the Starfish: Deoxygenated ‘Dead Zones’ Threatening Marine Life
    • Why is Congress Trying to Give Military Half a Wildlife Refuge it Doesn’t Want?

      The overreaching rider is part of a trend: this is only the latest attempt by the House Armed Services committee, long dominated by Republicans, to demolish endangered species protections through the NDAA, the annual “must-pass” legislation that authorizes annual military spending.

    • America’s Most Notorious Coal Baron Is Going to Prison. But He Still Haunts West Virginia Politics

      As CEO of Massey Energy, central Appalachia’s largest coal producer, Don Blankenship towered over West Virginia politics for more than a decade by spending millions to bolster Republican candidates and causes. That chapter came to an end in April, when Blankenship was sentenced to a year in prison for conspiring to commit mine safety violations in the period leading up to the deadly 2010 explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine. But even in absentia, he casts a long shadow over state politics. For evidence, look no further than the contentious Democratic primary for governor.

    • Retrofitting Suburbia: Communities Innovate Their Way Out of Sprawl

      The future for suburbanites, who now have twice the carbon footprint of city dwellers, seems to be pointing backward to pre-automobile, train-based living.

    • Obama’s Offshore Drilling Proposal Based on Fossil Fuel Industry Research

      A key component of President Barack Obama’s push for offshore oil drilling—an economic analysis touting the benefits of opening up waters in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic—was based on studies conducted by the fossil fuel industry, a new investigation reveals.

      The “apparently impartial” analysis from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) justified the offshore drilling proposal unveiled last month as having potential for “increased wages, additional jobs, increased tax collection, revenue sharing, and proximity of supply and consumers economic,” the nonprofit research group Public Accountability Initiative states in its report, Offshore Shilling: An Analysis of the Economic Studies Justifying the Department of Interior’s Offshore Drilling Plan.

  • Finance

    • Chevron Lobbied For Corporate Sovereignty Rights In TAFTA/TTIP To Act As ‘Environmental Deterrent’

      Back in 2014, Techdirt noted that arguably the most serious problem with corporate sovereignty was not the huge awards that could be imposed on countries, but the chilling effect the mere threat of those awards could have on national sovereignty. In that post, we quoted from a remarkable 2001 article in The Nation. A former Canadian government official in Ottawa revealed that numerous proposals for new environmental regulations had been dropped in the face of threats that NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) framework would be used against Canada if it brought in new laws. The Techdirt post also mentioned a case in Indonesia, where a mining company dropped a corporate sovereignty case when it was offered “special exemptions” from a new mining law.

      More recently, we’ve seen New Zealand put on hold its plans to require plain packaging for cigarettes, as a result of Philip Morris bringing an ISDS claim against the Australian government for doing the same. The New Zealand government was concerned it too might get hit, and so decided to wait. Now that the Australian case has been thrown out, New Zealand is pressing ahead with its plain packs legislation.

    • Weighing Obama’s Economic Legacy–With a Thumb on the Scale

      The economy has also seen close to 3 million prime-age workers (ages 25–54) drop out of the labor force. No one had predicted this back in 2009 when President Obama took office. The number of people who are working part-time involuntarily is still close to 1.7 million above its pre-recession level. No one had expected this back in 2009, either.

      The 73 consecutive months of private-sector job growth, “the longest period of sustained job growth on record,” is kind of a joke. This is sort of like a weak-scoring basketball player telling a reporter about the number of consecutive games in which he scored points; it is an utterly meaningless statistic. It is the average job growth, GDP growth and improvement in living standards that matter, not the monthly job creation streak. (And President Obama wonders why people don’t feel better.)

      Sorkin then turns to mind-reading on the Wall Street bailout, telling readers: “But Obama, convinced that anything short of a major bailout could lead to economic catastrophe, said Democrats should back Paulson’s plan. They did.”

      Sorkin doesn’t indicate how he knows that Obama was “convinced.” No one has ever given an argument as to why the government could not have boosted the economy with massive spending after the market had been allowed to work its magic in putting Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and the rest out of business. Elite types call people names who raise this point, but that doesn’t mean it is not valid.

    • More Lies From the Government

      The government has reported a growth in first quarter 2016 GDP of one-half of one percent — 0.5%.

      Residential investment accounted for the entire increase.

      Yet housing starts fell by 0.7%.

    • How to Redistribute Wealth—Without the Guillotine

      We can’t just tax billionaires’ paychecks. We should tax the wealth they’ve already amassed.

    • The Question Is Not “Free Trade” and Globalization, It Is Free Trade and Globalization Designed to Screw Workers

      Why are none of the “free trade” members of Congress pushing to change the regulations that require doctors go through a U.S. residency program to be able to practice medicine in the United States? Obviously they are all protectionist Neanderthals.

      Will the media ever stop the ridiculous charade of pretending that the path of globalization that we are on is somehow and natural and that it is the outcome of a “free” market? Are longer and stronger patent and copyright monopolies the results of a free market?

      The NYT should up its game in this respect. It had a good piece on the devastation to millions of working class people and their communities from the flood of imports of manufactured goods in the last decade, but then it turns to hand-wringing nonsense about how it was all a necessary part of globalization. Actually, none of it was a necessary part of a free trade.

      First, the huge trade deficits were the direct result of the decision of China and other developing countries to buy massive amounts of U.S. dollars to hold as reserves in this period. This raised the value of the dollar and made our goods and services less competitive internationally. This problem of a seriously over-valued dollar stems from the bungling of the East Asian bailout by the Clinton Treasury Department and the I.M.F.

      If we had a more competent team in place, that didn’t botch the workings of the international financial system, then we would have expected the dollar to drop as more imports entered the U.S. market. This would have moved the U.S. trade deficit toward balance and prevented the massive loss of manufacturing jobs we saw in the last decade.

    • Crime Can Pay if It’s Big Enough

      For banksters like Goldman Sachs, federal criminal settlements are just a cost of doing business.

    • Could US Trade Threaten Sustainable Agriculture in Cuba?

      The future of agroecology in Cuba rests not only on how U.S.-Cuban relations continue to develop but also on how the Cuban state proceeds with ongoing economic reforms. Cuban farmers who practice agroecological methods by necessity will face a choice between committing to them in principle and returning to using imported agrochemicals to resolve the issue of labor shortages. The Cuban government will face a tricky balancing act between using U.S. agricultural exports to settle the question of food security and protecting its own industries, particularly agroecological and organic farms, from increased competition. Will a pioneering, sustainable food system that emerged from a period of extreme scarcity and hardship survive the transition to an era of relative abundance?

    • ‘Brazil Is One of the Most Unequal Countries in the World’

      The situation in Brazil—where President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment charges spurred by legislators, many of whom are themselves under investigation for corruption—is hard to grasp at a glance, but glances are all we get in US media. And when it comes to Latin America, elite media haven’t been shy about their disaffection for leftist governments, sometimes going to great lengths to paint them as delusional and dangerous to the region, and somehow to the US.

    • NYT Photographer Mauricio Lima, 2016 Pulitzer Winner, Denounces Globo and the “Coup” in Brazil

      Ten days ago, the photographer Mauricio Lima was feted by Brazil’s large corporate media when he won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography, the first Brazilian ever to win the award. Lima shared the Pulitzer with fellow New York Times photographers Sergey Ponomarev, Tyler Hicks and Daniel Etter, with whom he worked to produce a series of stunning photographs documenting the journey of a Syrian refugee family, the Majids, as they traveled from Greece to Sweden to seek asylum. The year before, Lima, along with two colleagues, was named a Finalist in the same Pulitzer category for his work in The New York Times showing the devastation from the war in Ukraine. Last week, one columnist for O Globo quoted Joseph Pulitzer’s definition of journalism’s purpose and gushed that “there is no better definition to describe the work of Maurício Lima.”

    • Puerto Rico Is Cracking Down On Tax-Exempt Status For Churches

      Locked in the midst of a spiraling debt crisis, the government of Puerto Rico has taken a number of drastic steps to make money, such as cutting public education, hiking sales tax to be the highest in the U.S., and raising the cost of amenities such as water and electricity.

      But this past week, its Treasury Department announced another, somewhat unusual tactic: cracking down on churches that abuse tax-exempt status.

    • Republicans Shoot Down Rule That Bans Financial Advisers From Scamming Retirees
    • As Millions of Workers Face Pension Cuts Thanks to Wall Street Greed, Executive Benefits Remain Lavish

      In October of 2008, while the economy was in the early stages of what the IMF called “the worst recession since World War II,” the Washington Post reported that the “stock market’s prolonged tumble has wiped out about $2 trillion in Americans’ retirement savings in the past 15 months, a blow that could force workers to stay on the job longer than planned.”

      Thanks, in other words, to Wall Street’s reckless and criminal behavior, workers who were promised a secure retirement were cheated out of the benefits they worked hard — for decades — to attain.

      Which brings us to 2016: Just over a week ago, the Washington Post reported (déjà vu?), “More than a quarter of a million active and retired truckers and their families could soon see their pension benefits severely cut — even though their pension fund is still years away from running out of money.”

    • The Sanders Campaign – From Sea to Shining Sea

      Really, you can’t fault Hillary Clinton’s campaign for trying to get Bernie Sanders out of the race. It’s a campaign – that’s what you do. They want to win the nomination. We on the Sanders side want it too and we’d love to see Clinton out. But we’re also campaigning to change the nation by ending the corporate stranglehold on Washington. And as more and more people come to understand what that’s all about, we think we’re winning that campaign.

    • Banks Assert Constitutional Right to Billions in Subsidies

      A trade group for the nation’s largest banks has asserted a constitutional right to risk-free profit from the Federal Reserve.

      Rob Nichols, the chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association, argued in a comment letter Thursday that a recent federal law reducing the dividend on the stock that banks purchase as part of membership in the Federal Reserve system, violates the Fifth Amendment clause banning the uncompensated seizure of property.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Amid Media Megamergers, a Mosaic of Community Media Thrives

      The business press is all atwitter with merger news, as federal regulators are set to approve a massive deal between cable giants Charter, Time Warner and Bright House Networks. The $78 billion transaction will create the second-largest cable TV/Internet company, dubbed “New Charter,” next to Comcast, and leave just three major cable providers in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Gannett Company, which owns more than 100 newspapers, including USA Today, is attempting to acquire Tribune Publishing, which owns several major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

      This looming consolidation in the corporate media is happening as we celebrate “Democracy Now!” news hour’s 20th anniversary. We are on a 100-city tour of the United States, going from city to city, hosting fundraisers for community media outlets and broadcasting the news as we travel. Our travels confirm that a thriving, vibrant community media sector exists, serving the public interest, free from the demands to turn a profit at any cost.

    • To Clear the Air, Sanders Should Challenge New York Vote

      In November 2004, the officially announced results of the Ukrainian presidential election differed from exit polling by 12%.

      U.S. officials officially cried fraud.

      Last Tuesday, the results of the New York primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders differed from exit polling by 12%.

      Tim Robbins has cried fraud, and the Washington Post’s most consistent Clinton hack this cycle is leading the charge in mocking him.

    • Does the First Amendment Justify Corruption?

      Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s Supreme Court corruption appeal will help decide whether the First Amendment protects average Americans or special interests.

    • Opening the Closed Political Culture

      Don’t they know how American democracy works? Real change isn’t part of the game. The mainstream media looks on in fascination at those (mostly young people) who don’t get this yet and seem to think that something more is at stake than which preselected big-money candidate wins the election.

    • The Pragmatic Impacts of Sanders’ Big Dreams

      The race for the Democratic presidential nomination has pitted a dreamer against a realist, right? Bernie Sanders is the unrealistic one, and Hillary Clinton, the pragmatist, is the candidate who can get things done.

      That’s what many pundits say. But, even with Tuesday’s setbacks to the Sanders campaign, it’s worth examining which is actually unrealistic—Bernie’s pledge to make the country more equitable and sustainable? Or Hillary’s progressive talking points, given her deep ties to corporate power players?

      One way to see if Sanders really is a dreamer is to look at his record as mayor of the city of Burlington, Vermont.

    • Fourteen to Go: Sanders Set on ‘Transforming Nation’

      That’s how many Democratic presidential nominating contests remain. From Indiana next week to the District of Columbia on June 14—with delegate prizes as large as 546 in California and small as 12 in Guam to be won in between—14 states and territories have yet to hold their respective caucus or primary.

    • Reputation Management Revolution: Fake News Sites And Even Faker DMCA Notices

      Pissed Consumer has uncovered another apparent case of bad reputation management, this one revolving around bogus websites facilitating bogus DMCA takedowns. It previously exposed a pair of lawyers using shell companies and highly-questionable defamation lawsuits to force Google to delist negative reviews hosted around the web. These faux litigants always managed to not only find the supposed “defamers,” but to also obtain a signed admission within 48 hours of the lawsuit being filed — a process that usually takes weeks or months, especially if the alleged “defamer” utilizes anything other than their real name when posting negative reviews.

      In this case, the reputation management scheme involves the use of hastily-set up “news” sites that contain a blend of scraped content and negative reviews hosted at sites like Yelp, Ripoff Report and Pissed Consumer.

    • Rhode Island’s Primary Results Show Us How Independents Are Shaping the 2016 Election

      Rhode Island’s primary results “show just how tough and unpredictable the battle for the presidency will be this year, all the way to the White House,” Guardian journalist Suzanne McGee writes.

      The key factor is the rising anger of middle-class or formerly middle-class Americans, an experience given voice by the author and critic Neal Gabler in a recent essay for The Atlantic, in which he confesses that he is one of many Americans suffering from “financial impotence,” or the inability to find even $400 to cover an emergency. One study suggests 47 percent of Americans find themselves in this plight, and “millions of Americans are succumbing to a form of economic despair, a factor that has been cited as one of the contributing factors in sending the US suicide rate to a 30-year high,” McGee says.

    • Yanis Varoufakis, Former Greek Finance Minister, Returns to Public Life More Hopeful Than Ever

      Just a year ago the eyes of progressives all over the world were turned toward Greece. That which rarely happens had transpired in the Greek electoral system: a left-wing party with a strong ideological position was elected to power. The Syriza Party, which had upheld a staunchly anti-austerity platform, was propelled by the collective despair of the Greek populace into a landslide victory.

      The challenge of Syriza, and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, lay in navigating between the opposing pressures of austerity-weary Greeks on the one hand, and the troika of creditors (the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund) on the other. Part of international fascination with this European moment was based on the hope that if Greece could thumb its nose at neoliberal capitalism, there might be positive repercussions throughout Europe and even elsewhere.

    • How the New York Times Helped Hillary Hide the Hawk

      In our critique of the media, we tend to focus on the New York Times, because it purports to be the gold standard for journalism, and because others look to the paper for coverage guidance. But the same critique could be applied to the Washington Post,Politico, CNN, and most other leading outfits.

      In prior articles, we noted how the Timeshelped Clinton walk away with most of the African-American vote—and therefore victory in many states—by essentially hiding Sanders’ comparably far more impressive record on civil rights. We also noted how it seemed that every little thing the Clinton camp did right was billboarded, while significant victories against great odds by Sanders were minimized.

      These are the kinds of decisions that determine the “conventional wisdom,” which in turn so often determines outcomes.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Rosemary Collyer’s Worst FISA Decision

      Collyer has a history of rulings, sometimes legally dubious, backing secrecy and executive power, some of which include,

      2011: Protecting redactions in the Torture OPR Report

      2014: Ruling the mosaic theory did not yet make the phone dragnet illegal (in this case she chose to release her opinion)

      2014: Erroneously freelance researching the Awlaki execution to justify throwing out his family’s wrongful death suit

      2015: Serially helping the Administration hide drone details, even after remand from the DC Circuit

      I actually think her mosaic theory opinion from 2014 is one of her (and FISC’s) less bad opinions of this ilk.

    • GCHQ Has Disclosed Over 20 Vulnerabilities This Year, Including Ones in iOS

      Earlier this week, it emerged that a section of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the UK’s signal intelligence agency, had disclosed a serious vulnerability in Firefox to Mozilla. Now, GCHQ has said it helped fix nearly two dozen individual vulnerabilities in the past few months, including in highly popular pieces of software like iOS.

      “So far in 2016 GCHQ/CESG has disclosed more than 20 vulnerabilities across a number of software products,” a GCHQ spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. CESG, or the National Technical Authority for Information Assurance, is the information security wing of GCHQ.

    • Russia’s Trace in NSA Spying Scandal Proofless Rumors – Ex-BND Chief

      The Russian involvement in Edward Snowden’s leaks on the BND targeting European authorities and individuals at NSA’s request should be qualified as unsubstantiated rumors, August Hanning, former head of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND), told Sputnik Friday.

    • Senators Burr & Feinstein Write Ridiculous Ignorant Op-Ed To Go With Their Ridiculous Ignorant Bill

      Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein are not giving up that quickly on their ridiculous and technically ignorant plan to outlaw real encryption. The two have now penned an op-ed in the WSJ that lays out all the same talking points they’ve laid out before, without adding anything new. Instead, it just continues to make statements that show how incredibly ignorant they are. The piece is called Encryption Without Tears (and may be paywalled, though by now everyone knows how to get around that), which already doesn’t make any sense. What they’re pushing for is ending basic encryption, which will lead to many, many tears.

      [...]

      I love this. They give two examples that have been rolled out a bunch in the last few weeks. The attack in Garland, Texas, where the attackers supposedly exchanged some messages with potential ISIS people, and the case of Brittney Mills, who was tragically murdered, and whose case hasn’t been solved. Mills had her smartphone, but no one can get into it. Of course, it took nearly two years of fretting before law enforcement could dig up these two cases, and neither make a very strong argument for why we need to undermine all encryption.

      It’s a simple fact that law enforcement never gets to have all of the evidence. In many, many, many criminal scenarios, that’s just the reality. People destroy evidence, or law enforcement doesn’t find it or law enforcement just doesn’t understand it. That’s not the end of the world. This is why we have police detectives, who are supposed to piece together whatever evidence they do have and build a picture for a case. Burr and Feinstein are acting like in the past, law enforcement immediately was handed all evidence. That’s never been the way it works. Yes, law enforcement doesn’t get access to some information. That’s how it works.

    • Notorious “FOIA Terrorist” Jason Leopold “Saves” FBI Over $300,000

      I noted at the time that 1) Jim Comey has a history of telling untruths when convenient and 2) he had an incentive to exaggerate the cost of this exploit, because it would pressure Congress to pass a bill, like the horrible Burr-Feinstein bill, that would force Apple and other providers to help law enforcement crack phones less expensively.

    • Supreme Court Approves Rule 41 Changes, Putting FBI Closer To Searching Any Computer Anywhere With A Single Warrant

      The DOJ is one step closer to being allowed to remotely access computers anywhere in the world using a normal search warrant issued by a magistrate judge. The proposed amendments to Rule 41 remove jurisdiction limitations, which would allow the FBI to obtain a search warrant in, say, Virginia, and use it to “search” computers across the nation using Network Investigative Techniques (NITs).

      This won’t save evidence obtained in some high-profile cases linked to the FBI’s two-week gig as child porn site administrators. Two judges have ruled that the warrants obtained in this investigation are void due to Rule 41(b) jurisdiction limitations. (Another has reached the same conclusion in an unrelated case in Kansas). The amendments recently approved by the US Supreme Court would strip away the jurisdiction limitation, making FBI NIT use unchallengeable, at least on jurisdiction grounds.

    • FBI Spent $1.3 Million To Not Even Learn The Details Of The iPhone Hack… So Now It Says It Can’t Tell Apple

      Once the DOJ told the court in San Bernardino that it had succeeded in hacking into the iPhone of Syed Farook, the big question people asked is whether or not the FBI would then tell Apple about the vulnerability. After all, the administration set up the so-called “Vulnerabilities Equities Policy” (VEP) with the idea of sharing most vulnerabilities it discovers with companies.

    • The Shell Game the Government Played During Yahoo’s Protect America Act Challenge

      The unsealed classified appendix released today (the earlier released documents are here) provides a lot more details on the shell game the government played during the Yahoo litigation, even with Walton. (It also shows how the government repeatedly asked the court to unseal documents so it could share them with Congressional Intelligence Committees or other providers it wanted to cooperate with PAA).

      [...]

      As a result of the government’s successful argument Yahoo had to argue blind, it did not learn — among other things — that CIA would get all the data Yahoo was turning over to the government, or that the government had basically totally restructured the program after the original expiration date of the program, additional issues on which Yahoo might have challenged the program.

    • Here’s Why FBI Won’t Tell Apple How It Hacked San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone

      After it was possible to hack into the San Bernardino iPhone, FBI has again come up with another statement that it cannot reveal the information about the method that was used to hack into the iPhone as FBI did not purchase the rights to the technique used in hacking.

    • The NSA doesn’t even know how many Americans it’s spying on
    • Now FBI Can Hack Any Computer In The World With Just One Warrant
    • ‘Snowden’ Movie Trailer: Can Oliver Stone Make Whistleblowing Suspenseful?
    • Oliver Stone’s Snowden: American whistleblower portrayed as hero in trailer
    • Edward Snowden Reacts To ‘Snowden’ Movie Trailer
    • Official Trailer Released for Oliver Stone Film ‘Snowden’
    • Snowden movie trailer teases an action-packed NSA thriller
    • Ssh, Don’t Tell Anyone, But The Official Trailer For ‘Snowden’ Has Leaked
    • Watch: First trailer for ‘Snowden’ looks intense
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • It’s unfair to say Hillsborough police were incompetent – it takes great organisation to tell such shocking lies

      One touching side to the aftermath of the Hillsborough verdict, is how few people responsible for the tragedy, the lies or the cover-up appear to show the slightest signs of remorse, which is heartening because there’s no point in adding to the suffering is there?

      This is excellent news as it should save on counselling. For example, Paul Middup, who as chair of South Yorkshire Police Federation blamed the disaster on a “rampaging mob”, has refused to make a further statement.

      So if he had to see a therapist, they’d say, “Now Paul, you were at a traumatic event weren’t you? And the force you speak for was partly to blame, but you invented a rampaging mob to deflect that blame. Do you ever experience feelings of, perhaps, slight guilt in any way?” And he’d say “no not really”, and the session would be over, saving on costs all round.

      [...]

      It also suggests our society is now controlled by new age liberals, as the police falsified at least 116 statements, which we’ve known about since the last inquiry, and no one’s yet been punished for it. Because it’s wrong to see these police officers as liars, they’re suffering from Compulsive Statement Alteration Syndrome, and we shouldn’t be negative by saying they make stuff up but recognise they’re “differently realitied” – which is why many of them have been promoted, to raise their self-esteem.

    • British Police Forces Sued for “Abuse on an Industrial Scale” Over 96 Soccer Fans’ Deaths

      This past Tuesday, a jury ruled that the fans were not to blame, that the 96 dead were “unlawfully killed,” and that the chief officer in charge was had been “in breach of duty.”

    • A Battery of Dangerous Cybercrime Proposals Still Hang Over Brazil

      Digital rights activists across Brazil held their breath yesterday, as the country’s Parliamentary Commission on Cybercrime (CPICIBER) debated whether to send its report to the full lower house of Congress for committee assignment and debate. In the end, the vote was postponed, and rescheduled for Tuesday, May 3rd. A postponement does not fix the problems with the commission’s proposals — but it may show a growing realization of the negative attention the report is gathering from Brazil’s Internet users.

    • Our children aren’t inheriting the liberties of our parents: The importance of “Analog Equivalent Rights”

      The civil liberties of our parents are not being passed down to our children. Somehow, liberties are being interpreted to only apply to analog technology, despite this limitation being nowhere in the books. This is a disastrous erosion of the fundamental liberties our ancestors fought, bled, and died to give us.

      This week, there was news of a new law passed in the US House of Representatives – the lower legislative chamber in the United States – passing a bill to require a search warrant for the government to search and seize people’s e-mail. In other words, the government would need a search warrant to obtain people’s private correspondence if it happened to be transmitted electronically, which practically all correspondence is today.

    • Cruelty of Solitary Detention Challenged as Obama Pushes State-Level Reform

      When President Obama in January announced plans to limit federal prisons’ use of solitary confinement—a practice a UN expert described as “torture” and “cruel”—human rights activists applauded.

      Those activists were still skeptical, however, that such a measure would reach far enough to enact meaningful change, as the vast majority of solitary confinement happens in state-level prisons. A total of about 90,000 people are imprisoned in solitary in state prisons, compared to about 10,000 incarcerated in segregated cells in federal facilities. (The nationwide total of approximately 100,000 people in solitary confinement surpasses the total prison populations of countries such as France, Japan, Germany, and the UK, as the Yale Law Journal points out.)

    • Anti-Trump protesters shatter windows of police cruiser at California rally
    • Trump Held A Rally In A Heavily Latino City Last Night. Chaos Ensued.
    • One Ugly Summer: Is Latest Trump Rally Violence Just Taste of What’s to Come?

      If events in California outside a Donald Trump rally on Thursday night are any indication, the months ahead are likely to inspire more acrimony than political inspiration as billionaire media personality Donald Trump emerges as the Republican Party’s presidential nominee.

      While holding an event at the Orange County Fair grounds in the city of Costa Mesa, approximately twenty people were arrested after anti-Trump demonstrators clashed with the candidate’s supporters and police were confronted with a hostile crowd who vowed to challenge the noxious views of Trump’s campaign.

    • FBI failed to follow its own rules when it impersonated The Associated Press in a 2007 investigation

      The FBI failed to follow its own rules when agents impersonated an Associated Press reporter in order to locate a criminal suspect in 2007, according to documents newly released in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and The Associated Press.

      The documents further show that after the impersonation became public, an FBI analysis determined that the non-compliance was reasonable, raising questions about the efficacy of the guidelines altogether.

      The Reporters Committee and AP sued the FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice last August for records related to the FBI’s practice of impersonating the news media.

    • Historic Ruling Puts Justice Within Reach for CIA Torture Victims

      CIA torture victims are a big step closer to accountability.

      A federal judge has ruled against two CIA contract psychologists, James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen, in their effort to dismiss a case brought against them on behalf of three victims of the torture program they designed and implemented for the agency.

      Senior Judge Justin Quackenbush announced his decision rejecting the psychologists’ motion to dismiss during an argument last Friday in Spokane, Washington. Yesterday, the federal court issued its written opinion.

    • Robert Scheer Talks With Eddie Conway About Making Real News After Prison

      In this week’s “Scheer Intelligence,” the Truthdig editor in chief sits down with former Black Panther Eddie Conway to hear about how he helped fellow prisoners organize for reform while serving a nearly 44-year term sentence for a murder he didn’t commit.

    • Texas Prisons Assert Right to Censor Inmates’ Families on Social Media

      On the morning of April 15, Pat Hartwell drove up from her home in Houston, Texas, to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Austin, where the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which runs the state’s prisons, was holding a board meeting. The board only offers a public comment period during two of its meetings each year, and this would be the first time in 2016 that the public would have a chance to air grievances or concerns about agency operations, for example, or prison conditions.

    • You Serve Your Time, Earn Your Freedom, Then the Job Market Shuts the Door in Your Face

      I decided I had to prove to the next potential employer that I’m worthy. On my next interview, I took the actual piece of paper with the executive grant commuting my sentence that the president gave me. When the interviewer asked me about my conviction, I showed her my executive order. Next thing I know, she is calling other people into the room, and they are looking at me and my clemency paper. The interviewer told me she would talk to the manager and tell him to hire me because she knows how hard it is for someone who has served time to get a job. Her brother was in prison, and she’d seen it happen to him. The manager agreed to hire me as a welder, but I was unable to get the job because I didn’t have a driver’s license. Mine had expired after 17 years, and it was going to take a month to take a driving test.

    • Reforming Democracy From the Grassroots Up

      America is in the midst of a grassroots revolution. Ordinary people are standing up to big money and denouncing the culture of corruption that permeates our political system. Just this month, more than 1,200 people were arrested and sent to jail for protesting special interests and lobbyists. Thousands more joined anti-corruption rallies in communities across America to demand a government that represents us.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • The Cable Industry Threatens To Sue If FCC Tries To Bring Competition To Cable Set Top Boxes

      Back in February the FCC voted on a new plan to open up the traditional cable box to competition. According to a fact sheet being circulated by the agency (pdf), under the FCC’s plan you’d still pay your cable company for the exact same content, cable operators would simply have to design systems — using standards and copy protection of their choice — that delivered this content to third-party hardware. The FCC’s goal is cheaper, better hardware and a shift away from the insular gatekeeper model the cable box has long protected.

      Given this would obliterate a $21 billion captive market in set top box rental fees — and likely direct consumers to more third-party streaming services — the cable industry has been engaged in an utterly adorable new hissy fit. This breathless hysteria has primarily come in the form of an endless stream of editorials — most of which fail utterly to disclose financial ties to cable — claiming that the FCC’s plan will boost piracy, hurt privacy, “steal the future,” and even harm ethnic diversity.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • USTR: Foreign Governments Engaging In Censorship And Rights Abuses Should Add IP Enforcement To Their ‘To Do’ Lists

      If it’s mid-spring, it means it’s time for the US Trade Representative’s “Special 301 Report,” the annual “event” that names and shames countries who don’t live up to US industries’ intellectual property protection ideals. The same countries that have made the list for years still make the list, although a few have moved up a notch from the “Priority Watch” list to just the normal “Watch” list.

      There are lots of familiar names on the lists, including such perennial favorites as China, India, Russia and… Canada. The report offers congratulations to countries like Italy, which has managed to steer clear of the watchlists by instituting censorious IP enforcement procedures like site-blocking. And it pats other countries on the head for ceding to the USTR’s IP imperialism in exchange for upgraded 301 listings.

    • China Tops Annual US Trade Watch List — Again [Ed: pushing for software patents]

      The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released the 2016 Special 301 Report on the global state of intellectual property rights protection and enforcement.

      [...]

      India also remains on the 2016 Priority Watch List “for lack of sufficient measurable improvements to its IPR framework despite more robust engagement and positive steps forward on IPR protection and enforcement undertaken by the Government of India.” The Priority Watch List includes a total of 11 countries, including Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Thailand, Ukraine and Venezuela.

    • Discussions Continue On How To Govern WHO Interactions With Outside Actors

      The World Health Organization interacts with a large number of actors aside from governments, such as industry, philanthropic organisations, academia, and civil society. With an eye to preventing undue influence on the work of the organisation, member states have been trying to finalise a draft framework on WHO interaction with those actors. This week, what was seen as a last effort at reaching a consensual text did not quite meet the goal and some additional informal discussions are expected to take place before the annual World Health Assembly in late May.

    • Congress May Be About to Shake Up Trade Secret Law: Is That a Good Thing?

      Defend Trade Secrets Act may be the ‘most significant expansion’ of federal IP law in 70 years

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • Captured U.S. Trade Agency Resorts to Bullying Again in 2016 Special 301 Report

        Every year at around this time the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issues a Special 301 Report in which it chastises other countries for not submitting to its unilateral demands (often lacking any legal basis) as to how they should be enforcing copyrights, patents, trademarks and trade secrets in their countries. And just like last year, this gives us the opportunity again to point out how unbalanced these demands are, missing the real harms of strict copyright and patent enforcement and failing to acknowledge the benefits of a more flexible, user-centered approach.

        It would be unfair to say that the USTR just doesn’t get this; after so many submissions pointing this out the agency surely gets it just fine. Rather, it just doesn’t care, because its priorities lie with appeasing the special interest groups who pre-write most of the demands that end up in the report; major entertainment companies and the pharmaceutical industry [PDF]. In the USTR’s calculus, the concerns of other stakeholders—such as technology users, cultural institutions, remixers, fans, patients, people with disabilities, libraries and archives, independent creators and innovators—scarcely figure at all. After all, it’s Hollywood and the pharmaceutical industry who offer former USTR staff a much more lucrative career path.

      • Freedom of panorama in France: could even a visit to Père Lachaise become a problem?

        Game of Thrones? House of Cards? Forget them.

        The battle around what until recently was an area of copyright not many cared knew about, ie freedom of panorama, has now become one of the most eventful sagas ever.

        The relevant provision in this sense is Article 5(3)(h) of the InfoSoc Directive, which allows Member States to introduce national exceptions/limitations to the rights harmonised by that directive to permit the “use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places”.

      • The end of the Google Books legal saga

        While I was a law student in India, I was required to search for books in a physical library and the resources therein were few and far between. Searching manually took a lot of time but with Google Books, every student, researcher, lawyer, academician stands to benefit as it brings them to the book at the click of a mouse and also the authors close to their target audience. Therefore, I for one, cannot extol enough the virtues of the Google Books project.

        The Supreme Court too seems to embrace the goal of Google Books, which is, to make the life of every researcher or avid book reader much easy. The decision of the Supreme Court augers well for the reading/researching population. This case has certainly brought delight to researchers all over the world but dismay to the Authors Guild.”

      • Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone

        Just as spring arrived last month in Iran, Meysam Rahimi sat down at his university computer and immediately ran into a problem: how to get the scientific papers he needed. He had to write up a research proposal for his engineering Ph.D. at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. His project straddles both operations management and behavioral economics, so Rahimi had a lot of ground to cover.

        But every time he found the abstract of a relevant paper, he hit a paywall. Although Amirkabir is one of the top research universities in Iran, international sanctions and economic woes have left it with poor access to journals. To read a 2011 paper in Applied Mathematics and Computation, Rahimi would have to pay the publisher, Elsevier, $28. A 2015 paper in Operations Research, published by the U.S.-based company INFORMS, would cost $30.

      • Paramount Copyright Claim on Klingon Language Challenged in Klingon Language

        The Language Creation Society has filed an amicus brief challenging Paramount’s claim of copyright over the Klingon language in its lawsuit against Axanar, a fan-produced film set in the Star Trek universe. Marc Randazza, a top notch first amendment attorney who has helped out Reason on copyright issues, and Alex Shepard filed the brief yesterday.

Microsoft Says It Will Continue to Extort Companies That Distribute Linux, Using Software Patents As Usual

Posted in America, Antitrust, Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft PR versus Microsoft reality

Mascarada

Summary: Microsoft’s war on Linux, a war which is waged using software patents (for revenue and/or for coercion in bundling deals), is still going on in spite of all the PR tactics from Microsoft and its paid partners

MICROSOFT is still googlebombing Linux (the latest is a bunch of nonsense about a Linux subsystem in Vista 10, citing a blurb from Microsoft’s own Channel 9) and trying to tell us that Windows is Linux and Linux is Windows, or something to that effect (widespread confusion serves Microsoft here).

Based on a lie (Microsoft “embracing Linux,” and not in the E.E.E. sense), this foolish new article gives Microsoft a kill plan for Android. It’s the same old E.E.E. tactics, which are evidently still in the mix.

“It’s a clever plot from Microsoft, which is trying to simply engulf the competition, as it did two decades ago with Java.”Amid rumours and suggestions of a Canonical/Ubuntu buyout (we have encountered 4 articles about it by now) Microsoft keeps roping in Canonical and Ubuntu for Vista 10 marketing and we can’t help but feel that this is the “Extend” phase in E.E.E. Microsoft is trying to convince people to flock to Vista 10 if they want this “Linux thing” (or Ubuntu). The lock-in is only getting ever more aggressive, as even data from Windows is automatically being uploaded to Microsoft’s ‘cloud’ and various Windows-only elements (set aside OOXML lock-in). It’s a clever plot from Microsoft, which is trying to simply engulf the competition, as it did two decades ago with Java.

Well, there was a long chat about it in IRC the other day and patent aspects were discussed as well. According to this new article, in spite of Microsoft's patent Mafioso (Horacio) leaving, his ugly patent racketeering strategy goes on. Microsoft now uses patent lawsuits and threats thereof to get BUNDLING. See what it recently did with Acer (a sort of patent settlement involving Microsoft bundling). Microsoft basically uses patents to compel OEMs to choose Microsoft or face lawsuits (like Samsung not too long ago). Is this even legal? How is this not racketeering and an antitrust violation?

To quote this new article: “More than 20 vendors have inked agreements with Microsoft since then, including Samsung, LG, HTC, Acer and Asus. In March, Taiwan-based Wistron and Tokyo-based Rakuten became the two latest Android patent licensees.

“Google oughtn’t tolerate Microsoft’s attacks on Android OEMs (using software patents for leverage) because if it does not stand up and fights back, Microsoft will do it to other platforms that are Linux-powered, e.g. Tizen, SailfishOS, WebOS.”“Although Microsoft intends to seek additional licensing agreements with Android vendors, [Microsoft's] Hill suggested that these deals will be more about forming lasting relationships than enforcing intellectual property rights.”

No, what the above says is that patent deals are still on the agenda and that settlement with bundling is the current modus operandi. Funnily enough, Forbes (Gates’ and other rich people’s mouthpiece) calls Microsoft’s racketeering against Android OEMs “Microsoft’s Android Success”. Missing the big story there, don’t they?

Google oughtn’t tolerate Microsoft’s attacks on Android OEMs (using software patents for leverage) because if it does not stand up and fights back, Microsoft will do it to other platforms that are Linux-powered, e.g. Tizen, SailfishOS, WebOS.

Going back to the above article, it says: “Some Microsoft partners are expecting the software giant to step up its patent enforcement efforts in response to this trend. Jeff Middleton, president of IT Pro Experts, a Microsoft partner in Metairie, La., doesn’t expect Microsoft to tread lightly in going after potential Android licensing revenue.”

“For Microsoft to claim to have withdrawn complaints against Google after the FTC and EC already take action is like an invading/occupying army ‘pulling out’ of a nation after its complete destruction.”So nothing has changed and nothing will change, either. Murdoch-owned British media (Microsoft-friendly) currently makes it looks as though Microsoft softened while it’s obviously attacking Linux with patents and at the same time Murdoch-owned US media shows that Microsoft lobbying against Linux (or Android) in the US is paying off [1, 2] (“FTC Extends Probe Into Google’s Android”), after it paid off in Europe. Who benefits from this and how can anyone consider Microsoft a trustworthy partner? Microsoft, based on these new reports from today [1, 2], is bundling to the exclusion of Google again; even Google search is being denied by Microsoft, despite most people preferring it. Is Google not paying attention to this? Microsoft fights very viciously against Android’s steward, with help from front groups and proxies (while pretending to have stopped, to the point where some naively say “Microsoft’s out” of the EU case, citing reports like this one).

As TechDirt‘s Masnick pointed out in relation to this, “Microsoft, which has agreed to drop its complaints — despite kicking off much of the EU antitrust focus on Google” (we covered this at the time).

For Microsoft to claim to have withdrawn complaints against Google after the FTC and EC already take action is like an invading/occupying army ‘pulling out’ of a nation after its complete destruction. Who would be naive enough to seriously believe that Microsoft has changed? Only the CEO and PR have changed.

Australia Might be Next to Block Software Patents If Commission’s Advice is Followed

Posted in Australia, Patents at 7:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Aussie money

Summary: Australian advice against software patents, which can hopefully influence Australian politicians and put an end, once and for all, to all software patents in Australia

Australia’s long fight over the issue of software patenting was covered here in the not-so-recent past. It was about half a decade ago. See the following articles for instance, as well as this Wiki section (Australia):

We also mentioned Australia’s stance more recently in articles such as:

In a nutshell, while Australia does not officially boast tolerating patents on software, it does in fact allow many of them, unlike New Zealand.

There was some good news in this morning’s press coverage as according to this article, titled “Dump software patents, allow geoblocking bypass: Productivity Commission,” things may be about to change:

Australia should remove the ability to patent software and allow consumers to circumvent geoblocking of services like Netflix, the Productivity Commission recommended today.

The commission today published a set of far-reaching draft recommendations to the government to redress the balance of intellectual rights away from rights holders and in favour of users.

Among its recommendations, the commission said Australians should be able to access online content in a timely and affordable manner.

Echoing the findings of both the Harper competition review and the parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing, the Productivity Commission said restrictions by rights holders were having the opposite effect and actually encouraging internet piracy.

[...]

Australia’s patent system similarly needs an overhaul, according to the commission.

It believes the system is poorly targeted, with some “inventions” bordering on trivial and being protected for too long.

This creates low quality patents, stymies competition, and frustrates efforts of follow-on innovators while raising costs for the entire nation, the commission argued.

Business methods and software should not be able to be patented, the commission said, as it discourages software innovation and provides strong incentives to block competitors and hinder software development.

Australia currently affords “excessive” patent protection to business methods and software, with terms longer than development cycles, it said.

The commission pointed to the open source movement as providing incentives to innovate and disseminate new software without the need for patent protections.

As copyright also covers software, the commission said this raises the question about whether multiple forms of intellectual property protection is needed for computer code.

It said excluding business methods and software from the patent system would bring Australia in line with other nations.

Here is what CBS (US) wrote about it:

Business methods and software (BM&S) should be completely excluded from being patentable, the commission recommended, because the patent term is “far longer than the development cycle of BM&S”. It pointed to open-source software as proof of a more beneficial alternative for the community.

“[BM&S] patents have rarely spurred software innovation, but provided strong incentives for strategic behaviour to block competitors and hinder software development,” the draft report argues.

“In some cases, the BM&S is obsolete by the time a patent for it is granted … The open-source movement demonstrates that incentives to innovate and disseminate new software can occur in the absence of patent protections.”

Australia is evidently close to officially banning such patents, but only if it follows the Commission’s findings. This would be well overdue. Here is another article which speaks about patent scope a little more broadly:

Other recommendations include not extending the period of protection for registered designs, fine-tuning the trade marks and plant breeders statutes, belatedly including an Objects clause in the Patents Act, rethinking the controversial ‘innovation’ patents arrangements and bringing intellectual property transactions under Australian competition law. Efforts to streamline the regime will involve substantial investment in the Patents Office and dysfunctional Therapeutic Goods Agency. We can expect patent practitioners to savage the Commission’s stance on what it regards as trivial patents, alongside its call to deny business patents and software patents. ‘Big Pharma’ will again damn calls to wind back practices such as evergreening, extended periods of protection for pharmaceuticals and undue protection for test data.

Many other articles alluded to this but focused on pharmaceutical patents and/or geo-blocking for more attention to be placed on these other contentious issues [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19].

Is Australia going to do the right thing, which software developers actually want, and ban software patents? Contacting one’s representatives might help bring rise to bills to that effect in the Australian authorities.

[ES] ”Si la Forma de Pensar de la EPO fuese Seguida, Guantánamo Sería Posible en Suelo Alemán.”

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 6:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

English/Original

Article as ODF

Publicado en Europe, Law, Patentes at 8:11 am por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Siegfried Broß (abajo) previamente defendió al difamado juez que fue suspendido por Battistelli o Despedido a pesar de la supuesta independencia

Siegfried Broß
Image courtesy: campact.de

Summary: La EPO está todavía bajo fuego, pero mucho de ello pasa detrás de las cortinas y envuelve abogados y/o burócratas

La “EPO está silenciosa por el momento,” una persona nos dijo ayer, “¿Cuál será su próximo movimiento? Esten preparados!” Bueno, basados en lo que sabemos, com pocos reportajes de prensa ya están revelando gradualmente, hay muchos juicios en camino. El difamado juez también parece estar con aquellos que combaten al Cesar Battistelli, quien obviamente piensa que está arriba de la ley y abiértamente se enorgullece de ello.

Ni siquiera la policía o las fuerzas especiales en Alemania o en los Países Bajos pueden entra a las premisas de la — tan extraño como pueda sonar.”

No mucho es conocido públicamente acerca de estos juicios. No sabemos ¿cuántas personas estan envueltas?, ¿cuántas personas serán acusadas?, ¿cuántos pertinentes juicios hay y lo demás?, pero asumimos que la preparación de todo esto es lo que tiene a los oficiales de la SUEPO ocupados y pueda ser que pronto sepamos más acerca de las causas de estas quejas y quiénes son el objetivo legal, ya que la EPO misma es casi inmune a juicios (me lo dijo mi abogado despues de que la EPO me CACHETeó y algunos aplicante de la EPO me dijeron que quisieran demandarla pero no supieron como por su vergonzósa inmunidad). Por instancia, hacer una búsqueda en la EPO (subpoena) requiere previo permiso de la gerencia. Ni siquiera la policía o las fuerzas especiales en Alemania o en los Países Bajos pueden entra a las premisas de la — tan extraño como pueda sonar. Ni siquierea las embajadas disfrutan de las mismas protecciónes que el equipo de Battistelli abusa flagrantemente. La EPO es como Camp X-Ray y los suicidios no deben ser causa de sorpresa. Hay un parecido en la manera como la UN or WIPO es conectada con la UN, mayormente porque es un caos en el sentido legal (no hay protecciónes legales para los trabajadores).
As this new article from IP Watch puts it this week (yesterday): “To date, there is no consolidated reference text on WIPO’s governance” (and in the EPO there are special rules that are kept secret as they override national/international laws).
Aquí vamos de nuevo, como fue el caso hace dos meses, Siegfried Broß comparándo al status legal de laEPO al de Guantánamo Bay.”

En su último blog post, Battistelli, quien trató de trabajar por la WIPO (perdió con Gurry), cita a la WIPO en un esfuérzo para ganar legitibilidad. Viene en medio de una calma relative, aunque la prensa Bavara/Alemana evidentemente continúa cubriendo la situacion en la EPO (link directa al video). Más aún, la SUEPO ha preparado una traducción de “Patentamtsstreit beschäftigt auch Audi”, que dice que fue publicada “sólo en versión de papel.” Aquí vamos de nuevo, como fue el caso hace dos meses, Siegfried Broß comparándo al status legal de laEPO al de Guantánamo Bay. Alude a algunos de los puntos menciónados.

DONAUKURIER 20 APRIL 2016

SIEGFRIED BROSS ANTERIOR JUEZ CONSTITUCIONAL SOBRE EL EPO

El Sr. Bross, durante los últimos meses, la OEP ha estado golpeando los titulares con un gran número de controversias de derecho laboral. Que son vistos como un importante crítico de la organización. ¿Porqué es eso?

Siegfried Bross: La EPO es la autoridad central para la protección de patentes en Europa. Sin embargo, adolece de un defecto subyacente en su estructura, que se coló en el momento de su creación. Es una creación de una combinación de estados, y se reconoció su inmunidad. Eso en sí mismo es, en principio, no es un problema, pero dentro de la una EPO

Se ha creado en su totalidad del sistema jurídico autónomo, que no se basa en ningún sistema efectivo de pesos y contrapesos.

¿Qué significa eso?

Bross: La Oficina de Patentes se separa de los sistemas nacionales de Derecho. Esto tiene dos consecuencias que no son aceptables en el contexto de un estado de derecho: Por un lado, como puede verse en la actualidad, no existe protección legal de la fuerza de trabajo. Por otro lado, no hay protección legal ya sea para los solicitantes de patentes. Hay sólo las salas de recurso en la OEP, que son los dos funcionarios y jueces en una, y que, además, están subordinados al Presidente. Cualquiera que venga a padecimiento no tiene ningún otro recurso. Tampoco es la Oficina sujetos a ningún control o el control parlamentario.

¿Cómo podrían las disposiciones constitucionales estar estructuradas de manera que se evite este tipo de problemas?

Bross: Ya sea un nuevo tribunal tendría que ser establecida dentro de la Organización de Patentes, que sería independiente del Presidente, o la protección jurídica tendría que ser asignado a uno de los estados en los que tiene un domicilio, como Alemania.

En su opinión, a continuación, la estructura, tal como existe hasta ahora no es conciliable con la legislación aplicable?

Bross: Se contraviene la Convención Europea de Derechos Humanos, ya que los 38 Estados miembros no pueden garantizar el estado de un estado de derecho. Es un principio básico de los derechos humanos que los Estados no pueden rescindir su responsabilidad de respetar los derechos humanos. Esto significa que la organización nunca debería haber sido establecida ende la forma que era. La combinación del poder administrativo y legislativo en una sola entidad es inaceptable. La posición del Presidente contradice todos los principios básicos del Estado democrático de derecho, y la OEP tiene por ahora esencialmente la autonomía adquirida. He dicho en repetidas ocasiones, si esta forma de pensar se siguiera, Guantánamo en suelo alemán sería posible.En el intento de hacer que la Oficina sea más eficiente, tienen los estados perdieron de vista de los clientes y el personal?

Bross: El enfoque en la reducción de costes y un mayor rendimiento de las tasas no tienen nada que ver con la tarea de la OEP. Los procedimientos de patentes emisoras, cuyo objetivo es la protección de la propiedad intelectual, son un derecho absolutamente inviolables para la economía. Es una tarea fundamental de la autoridad de patentes para garantizar que hay suficiente personal disponible para el examen a fondo de las patentes.

Siegfried Bross fue un juez del Tribunal Constitucional Federal de 1998 a 2010. La entrevista fue realizada por Daniel Wenisch.

Como notamos en cerca de una docena de links en Techrights, juicios por torturas en Guantánamo Bay han sido dado el visto bueno (en un evento sin precedente). La gente detrás de las técnica de torturas people podrán ser arrastrádos a corte. Esperemos que lo mismo pase con la gerencia de la EPO.
Sólo vean lo que monstruos Raimund Lutz, por ejemplo, ha venido a servir.”

Trabajar por la EPO como personalidad legal (en cualquier capacidad) no legitimíza la carrera de uno o mejora su credibilidad a este punto (a menos que uno pase a la edad del retiro, en cuyo caso rarámente importa como es el caso de Battistelli y Minnoye). Sólo vean lo que monstruos Raimund Lutz, por ejemplo, ha venido a servir. Ne se preoucupen el es bien pagado por esto. De acuerdo a esta actualización de noticias, Juez Arnold también se une al equip (probablemente tentado por el dinero y el poder), aunque el serviría al engrandecido Jurado de Apelaciónes, que no es amigo de Battistelli (recuerden esta carta). Como lo puso IP Kat ayer: “Primero, IPKat se enteró de CIPA que el Sr Justice Arnold ha sido nombrado al engrandecido Jurado de Apelaciones de la Oficina Europea de Patentes. IPKat entiende que remplazará a Lord Justice Floyd, quien ha sido el miembro externo del Reino Unido del mismo por algunos años. Uno o dos miembros del Enlargecido Jurado son incluídos en el panel por caso donde hay una referenica a este poe el Jurado de Apelaciónes de la EPO o el Presidente de la EPO, y la esfera de la materia se extiénde más allá de la administración interna de la EPO. Tales casos son relativamente raros (simples números por años) y hay por lo menos 20 miembros externos, IPKat no se imagina que el Sr. Justice Arnold tendrá que usar un jet a Munich frecuéntemente.”

“Las próximas semanas pueden ser interesantes en lo que se trate de la EPO.” En otras noticias, MIP continúa escribiéndo como si la UPC definitivamente se concretará, irrespectivamente de todas las barreras. Para citar al sumario: “¿Como procedería a aclararse un caso una vez que la UPC este establecida? En el último artículo de nuestras series, David Rose, Nina O’Sullivan y Axel Walz consideran las opciónes para alguién que desafíé una patente para lanzar un producto competitivo” (ya hay escenarios para esto en el sistema existente, así que la UPC resolvería un problema que no existe de ninguna manera, a menos que tu seas una compañía multinacional que incluso no es Europea).

Las próximas semanas pueden ser interesantes en lo que se trate de la EPO. Hemos omitido toda propaganda de “Inventor” que proviene de la EPO estos dias, incluso urgiendo a las personas para votar dos veces y contactar “sus socios en los medios” como los periódicos Franceses (lo mismo de nuevo) y esperando que no se den cuenta de el pobre record de la selección de finalistas.

The European Copy-Paste Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: This morning’s example (not the first) of how the EPO uses ‘social’ media

EPO Copy-Paste

04.28.16

Links 28/4/2016: Fedora 24, EE Goes Open Source

Posted in News Roundup at 6:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 1º Computer Science Week 2016

    And since the beginning, I had tried to bring the most of the content about Free Software ideology. And this time next week, it will start the 1º Computer Science Week, and what is more amazing is that this edition is bringing people from more there 14 cities around the state of Rio de Janeiro, for watch the talks. I didn’t expect that.

  • OpenDaylight as an NFV Controller

    In discussing our use cases, we’ve noticed that a key domain for OpenDaylight (ODL) is Cloud and NFV. ODL is closely tied to NFV and accordingly works very closely with the Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV), a related project with the Linux Foundation that concentrates on providing a carrier-grade, integrated, open source platform to accelerate the introduction of new NFV products and services.

  • Open, available & interoperable: How open source is transforming the data centre industry

    Analysis: From commercial to enterprise hubs, from smaller to bigger players, open source is gearing up to be the future of the data centre.

    The use of open source to design, build and deploy software and even hardware infrastructure in the data centre seems to be an accelerating trend amongst companies in the hosting space.

    Open source software revenues worldwide are expected to go beyond the $50bn barrier this year for the first time, according to Statista. By 2020, that value will rise to $57.3bn.

  • ​OwnCloud founder resigns from his cloud company

    Frank Karlitschek, ownCloud’s founder and CTO, has resigned from his company. OwnCloud is a popular do-it-yourself infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud.

  • 7 science projects powered by open source GIS

    Next week, FOSS4G North America is coming to Raleigh, NC. FOSS4G is a conference celebrating all of the ways that free and open source software are changing the world of geographic and geospatial information science (GIS).

    These days, with ever-expanding technologies for collecting geographic data, sensor networks and the Internet of Things are driving larger and larger quantities of data that must be stored, processed, visualized, and interpreted. Practically every type of industry imaginable is increasing the types and quantities of geographic data they utilize. And the traditional closed source tools of the olden days can no longer keep up.

    Many of the applications of geographic tools are scientific in nature, from biology to oceanography to geology to climatology. Here are seven applications for geographic science that I’m excited about hearing talks on next week.

  • EE

    • EE partners with open source tech innovators to boost connectivity in rural areas

      EE has collaborated with Lime Micro and Canonical on an open source project set to boost connectivity in rural areas.

    • EE Looks To Open Source Networks For 5G And Rural 4G

      EE wants developers to create network services and applications using Lime Micro’s software defined radio transceiver and Canonical Ubuntu Snappy Core

    • EE goes Open Source with Network in a Box solution

      UK telco EE has announced that it is partnering with Lime Micro and Canonical, two of the UK’s leading open source technology companies, to launch a fully programmable network capability with the ability to change the way future mobile networks are built. The solution is built on Lime’s ‘network in a box’ solution, which developers can configure by software to provide any wireless service, including 4G and WiFi. The configuration software, available through the Snappy Ubuntu Core stores, should allow developers to create new applications and services for a mobile network.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 47 Beta Enables VP9, Embedded YouTube Videos Use HTML5

        Running hot off this week’s release of Firefox 46 is the beta release issued by Mozilla for Firefox 47.

        The Firefox 47.0 beta is another hefty update by Mozilla developers. With Firefox 47 Beta, embedded YouTube videos can now play with HTML5 video if Flash is not present, there is support for Google’s Widevine CDM but only on Windows/OSX, and the VP9 video codec is enabled for users with “fast machines.” Outside of the video work, there is now support for ChaCha20/Poly1305 cipher suites, Service Workers improvements, about:debugging additions, smart multi-line input in the Web Console, RSA-PSS signature crypto support, the Firefox User Extension Library (FUEL) has been removed, and various other user and developer additions.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • CoreOS’s Stackanetes Puts OpenStack in Containers

      CoreOS said a few weeks ago it was working on a way to run OpenStack as an application on the Kubernetes container platform. Today the company says it has done just that with its new Stackanetes.

      Stackanetes puts OpenStack in containers as a way to make OpenStack easier to use, according to Alex Polvi, CoreOS CEO, who spoke with SDxCentral in early April. He said OpenStack can be “a bit fragile,” and containers can be useful to make an organization’s infrastructure behave like that of a Web-scale cloud provider.

    • 5 Developers Explain Why They Attend ApacheCon

      ApacheCon North America and Apache Big Data are coming up in just a few weeks and it’s an event that Apache and open source community members won’t want to miss.

      Apache products power half the Internet, manage exabytes of data, execute teraflops of operations, store billions of objects in virtually every industry, and enhance the lives of countless users and developers worldwide. And behind those projects is a thriving community of more than 4,500 committers from around the world.

    • Apache Apex Is Promoted To Top-Level Project

      Streaming and batch big data analytics technology Apache Apex has been elevated to a Top-Level Project by the Apache Software Foundation. Used by organizations including Capital One and GE, the technology can help developers more quickly create apps that leverage real-time data.

    • Qubole releases Kafka ingestion, conversion service to open source

      Less than three weeks after open-sourcing its Quark cost-based SQL optimizer, big data-as-a-service provider Qubole Inc. is at it again.

      Coincident with Kafka Summit taking place in San Francisco this week, Qubole said it’s releasing its StreamX ingestion service under an Apache open source license. StreamX is used to efficiently and reliably capture large scale, real-time data using Apache Kafka, the message broker that is surging in popularity thanks to growing interest in real-time and streaming analytics.

      StreamX ingests data logs from Kafka and persists them to cloud object stores such as Amazon Web Services LLC’s S3. It guarantees that data is delivered without duplicates, addressing a characteristic of Kafka that can cause problems for users in some situations.

    • Qubole and Looker Join Forces to Empower Business Users to Make Data-Driven Decisions

      Qubole, the big data-as-a-service company, and Looker, the company that is powering data-driven businesses, today announced that they are integrating Looker’s business analytics with Qubole’s cloud-based big data platform, giving line of business users across organizations access to powerful, yet easy-to-use big data analytics.

    • Talk Recap: Automated security hardening with OpenStack-Ansible
    • Data and Announcements Roll in from OpenStack Summit
    • OpenStack Summit Austin – Start
    • OpenStack Swift Proxy-FS by SwiftStack

      Proxy-FS is basically a peer to a less known feature of Ceph Rados Gateway that permits accessing it over NFS. Both of them are fundamentally different from e.g. Swift-on-file in that the data is kept in Swift or Ceph, instead of a general filesystem.

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU founder Stallman: ‘Open source is not free software’

      Stallman is frequently described as an advocate of open source computing, even its father. It’s a characterization he vehemently denies. “I want people to associate me with free software, not open source,” he said. “I don’t want to make statements about open source except how it differs from free software.”

      Or, as a statement on GNU.org sums it up: “The free software movement campaigns for your freedom in your computing, as a matter of justice. The open source non-movement does not campaign for anything.”

  • Public Services/Government

    • EU jeopardises its own goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing

      On 19 April, the European Commission published a communication on “ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market” (hereinafter ‘the Communication’). The Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy intends to digitise industries with several legislative and political initiatives, and the Communication is a part of it covering standardisation. In general, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) welcomes the Communication’s plausible approach for integrating Free Software and Open Standards into standardisation but expresses its concerns about the lack of understanding of necessary prerequisites to pursue that direction.

    • A fresh look at the U.S. draft policy on ‘federal sourcing’

      The policy both reaffirms and broadens a goal laid out in the Administration’s Second Open Government National Action Plan for “improved access to custom software code developed for the Federal Government.” The Plan emphasized use of (and contributing back to) open source software to fuel innovation, lower costs, and benefit the public. It also furthers a long-standing ‘default to open’ objective going back to the early days of the Administration.

    • The Situation Report: NIST Framework Mandatory? Open Source Rebellion at DHS?

      The Department of Homeland Security’s chief information officer Luke McCormack was put in a tough position recently when he had to publicly flip-flop on the department’s official position on the use of open source software.

      McCormack was forced to post to GitHub a strong formal endorsement of a draft White House policy for publishing Federal source code in the open. “We believe moving towards Government-wide reuse of custom-developed code and releasing Federally-funded custom code as open source software has significant financial, technical, and cybersecurity benefits and will better enable DHS to meet our mission of securing the nation from the many threats we face,” McCormack wrote, reversing the concerns expressed a week earlier by members of his own team.

      Those DHS IT officials had called out the misguided geeks at the White House noting that most security companies do not publish their source code because that would allow hackers to develop highly targeted attacks.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Guide to Facebook’s Open Source Data Center Hardware

        When Facebook rolled out the Open Compute Project in 2011, it started somewhat of a revolution in the data center market. In a way, that revolution had already been going on; Google had figured out it was better off designing its own hardware than buying off-the-shelf products from the top vendors, and it had been some time before Facebook reached that point too.

  • Programming/Development

    • Purdue’s IronHacks series puts unique spin on hackathons

      Hackathons are well-known as events where developers come together to quickly turn out a piece of software, often competing against each other. But what if they were also a place for learning? The Research Center for Open Digital Innovation at Purdue University is making that happen. The IronHacks series of hackathons is designed to allow participants to learn from judges and Center researchers to learn from the participants.

    • Concourse: Scalable Open Source CI Pipeline Tool

      Concourse, an open source CI pipeline tool that uses yaml files for configuring pipelines and configuration-free setup, has recently bumped its major release and is currently available in version 1.1.0. According to the team sponsored by Pivotal, the major benefits of Concourse are explicit and first-class support of pipelines, running isolated builds in containers, avoidance of snowflake build servers and easy access to build logs.

    • GNU compilers learn new C++, parallelism tricks

      The GNU Compiler Collection will be refreshed with updated C++ standards compliance and improvements in parallelism and diagnostics.

      Described as a “major” release, GCC 6.1 leverages the C++ 14 standard, which was approved in 2014. “The C++ front end now defaults to the C++ 14 standard, instead of C++98, [which] it has been defaulting to previously,” said Jakub Jelinek, a Red Hat consulting engineer and a co-release manager of GCC, in a bulletin.

Leftovers

  • Scientology Honcho Miscavige Threatens to Sue Own Father to Block Book That Could Finally Bring Down ‘Church’

    High-ranking Church of Scientology member David Miscavige’s lawyers have threatened to file suit against Miscavige’s father, Ron. The threat is a last-ditch effort to stop Ron Miscavige from releasing a tell-all book about his son’s involvement in the religion, a belief system that outsiders and former members call a cult.

  • Dead Body Found In Conference Room Of Apple’s Headquarters

    A dead body was found in one of the conference rooms of the Apple’s Cupertino headquarters. No other injuries have been reported except a female employee who was also reported to be injured. Sheriff’s department have refused to comment on this case.

  • Annoying Windows 10 Update Request Highlights Its Annoying-Ness On Live Weather Broadcast
  • Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware storms live TV weather forecast

    Microsoft’s relentless Windows 10 nagware has interrupted a live TV weather forecast, urging meteorologist Metinka Slater to upgrade.

    The operating system suddenly popped up a box on screen insisting the station’s computer be upgraded to the latest version – while Slater was on air describing thunderstorms rolling through Iowa, US.

  • The Best Windows 10 Commercial Ever

    We interrupt this weather report with a very important announcement. Despite our best efforts, your local TV station has not yet upgraded to Windows 10. We warned them that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.

  • Teen Pregnancy Rate Has Fallen by More Than Half

    Why are teen women having fewer babies? First, more teens appear to be taking advantage of effective contraceptive methods. Second, they also are having less sex than earlier generations did. In an earlier report on adolescent sex the CDC noted that since 1988 the rate of teen sexual activity had fallen by 22 percent for teen males and 14 percent for teen females. Interestingly, a 2014 study found that births to teens dropped by nearly 6 percent 18 months after the preimiere of the MTV reality show, 16 and Pregnant.

  • Science

    • 3 women who radically changed the course of technology

      Now however, for no discernable reason, just 20% of the Australian IT workforce are women. So in order to not forget the industry’s roots – and hopefully inspire more Australian women to start crunching code – we thought we’d remember three notable innovators who radically changed the course of technology as we know it.

    • More particle than wave

      ASKED by a journalist in April about Canada’s role in fighting Islamic State, Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, came back with a pithy lecture on quantum computing. “The uncertainty around quantum states,” he explained, lets quantum computers encode much more information than the conventional binary sort can. This detour into geekdom seemed natural at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which Mr Trudeau was visiting to proclaim his enthusiasm for basic research. The video of the impromptu lecture went viral, adding to the glamour already radiated by the snowboarding, cannabis-legalising, refugee-embracing prime minister. The assembled physicists duly cheered; Mr Trudeau then answered the question.

    • Scientists Think Intelligent Life Could Have Evolved Before Brains

      Learning is a function that has always been precious to humans. In a way, it allows us to believe the fallacy that we can revolt against our evolved, basal tendencies, and forge our future as a species through intellect, as opposed to natural selection.

      We value the capacity to learn in ourselves, but also in other species. It’s why we take so much delight in teaching a dog new tricks, and yet feel threatened by the possibility of sentient, non-human beings.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Here’s Why Kids Are Still Getting More Obese

      But obesity doesn’t exist just because of individual choices by parents and kids. On the policy front, the US government “has yet to aggressively do more than try to make some minor changes in a few programs,” Popkin added. For example, Congress and President Barack Obama reformed the school food environment in important ways back in 2010, cutting down on the once-ubiquitous availability of sugary snacks and beverages, but public school cafeterias are still constrained by tight budgets to churning out plenty of highly processed food. (More here on the the modest US lunch reforms and the brewing congressional backlash against them.) In Brazil, by contrast, “70 percent of all food served in schools must be real food that is healthy,” Popkin said.

    • Plant Variety Protection To Meet Food Security Plant Treaty, But Where Are Farmers’ Rights?

      A planned symposium to identify potential interrelations between the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), and the United Nations International Plant Treaty is raising concerns from civil society about farmers’ rights.

    • Is a GMO Labeling Victory within Our Grasp?

      Oh, to be a fly on the wall inside the offices of the top lobbyists for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

      So close to the July 1 deadline for complying with Vermont’s GMO labeling law, and still no court ruling to overturn Vermont’s law. Still no federal legislation to preempt Vermont’s law.

      Hundreds of millions of dollars spent to keep labels off GMO ingredients. Lawsuits, dirty tricks, shady schemes—all, so far, for naught. Meanwhile, food corporations are labeling, or announcing plans to label, and preparing to implement those plans. Others, including Dannon, will remove GMO ingredients from their products.

    • 3 Pesticides Are Putting Nearly All U.S. Endangered Species At Risk

      The EPA’s draft report, which was released earlier this month, looked at three widely-used pesticides: chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion. It found that both malathion, which is used in agriculture, for lawn care, and for mosquito control, and chlorpyrifos, which is used on a range of crops including cotton, almonds, and fruit trees, was “likely to adversely affect” 97 percent of the 1,782 species listed under the Endangered Species Act. The other pesticide, diazinon, which is used in orchards and vegetable crops, was found to likely adversely affect 79 percent of these species.

    • Should We Worry About Arsenic in Baby Cereal and Drinking Water?

      According to a 2007 study this may be because of previous use of arsenic-based pesticides to control the boll weevil pest on cotton. From the 1930s to the 1960s, approximately 10 to 15 pounds of arsenic-based pesticide were used per acre for every planting.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • No Exit: The Case for Moving Security Information Front and Center

      The OWASP Top 10 list is extremely well known; it is impossible to walk through the show floor at a security conference without encountering at least some mention of the top 10 list. The Top 10 list is cited several times by the PCI Security Standards Council Penetration Testing Guidance and has been used as an acceptance test criteria for contract fulfillment for public procurement.

    • What Is Gitian Building? How Bitcoin’s Security Processes Became a Model for the Open Source Community

      But open source code doesn’t necessarily eliminate all risk. Users still need to trust that the software they run on their computers actually reflects the open source code as it should. To eliminate this risk, Bitcoin developers have developed a fierce security policy which goes beyond the open source nature of Bitcoin itself: “Gitian Building.”

    • The road to hell is paved with SAML Assertions

      A vulnerability in Microsoft Office 365 SAML Service Provider implementation allowed for cross domain authentication bypass affecting all federated domains. An attacker exploiting this vulnerability could gain unrestricted access to a victim’s Office 365 account, including access to their email, files stored in OneDrive etc.

    • Cisco Finds Backdoor Installed on 12 Million PCs

      Cisco started analyzing Tuto4PC’s OneSoftPerDay application after its systems detected an increase in “Generic Trojans” (i.e. threats not associate with any known family). An investigation uncovered roughly 7,000 unique samples with names containing the string “Wizz,” including “Wizzupdater.exe,” “Wizzremote.exe” and “WizzInstaller.exe.” The string also showed up in some of the domains the samples had been communicating with.

    • The “Wizzards” of Adware [Ed: unsurprisingly Windows]
    • All About Fraud: How Crooks Get the CVV

      A longtime reader recently asked: “How do online fraudsters get the 3-digit card verification value (CVV or CVV2) code printed on the back of customer cards if merchants are forbidden from storing this information? The answer: If not via phishing, probably by installing a Web-based keylogger at an online merchant so that all data that customers submit to the site is copied and sent to the attacker’s server.

    • Why We Should Be Worried About Ancient Viruses Infecting Power Plants [Ed: unsurprisingly Windows again]

      The reasons these patients are vulnerable to viruses like W32.Ramnit and Conficker is because they run legacy systems that haven’t been patched or updated for a decade. And that’s fine as long as the operators of the plant keep them isolated and assume they are insecure, hopefully keeping the more critical parts of the network away safer.

    • Magical Thinking in Internet Security

      Increased complexity without corresponding increases in understanding would be a net loss to a buyer. At scale, it’s been a net loss to the world economy.

    • Edward Snowden: The Internet Is Broken

      In 2013, a now-infamous government contractor named Edward Snowden shined a stark light on our vulnerable communications infrastructure by leaking 10,000 classified U.S. documents to the world.

      One by one, they detailed a mass surveillance program in which the National Security Administration and others gathered information on citizens — via phone tracking and tapping undersea Internet cables.

      Three years after igniting a controversy over personal privacy, public security, and online rights that he is still very much a part of, Snowden spoke with Popular Science in December 2015 and shared his thoughts on what’s still wrong and how to fix it.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Puerto Rico: a Junta By Any Other Name

      Empire is once again fashionable. The financial crisis that is presently gutting the island of Puerto Rico plays out like the world’s worst case of botched assisted suicide. The sell of its municipal funds and its constitutionally guaranteed promise of repayment to investors has plunged the island into a very precarious situation for its millions of citizens and the opportunity of a lifetime for hedge fund vultures. While it is laudable that the current economic meltdown on the island has made some headlines, including a mostly well-thought out piece by comedian John Oliver, the same cannot be said for the congressional knee-jerk legislative reaction to it. The bill, H.R. 4900, was designed to impose an oversight board meant to administer the fiscal responsibilities of the Puerto Rican people and has unleashed a firestorm of opposition that was glossed over by Oliver’s otherwise on-point observations. The controversy surrounding this bill has served as a catalyst underscoring the deep disregard bordering on contempt that frames the question of self-determination and complete lack of sovereignty afforded to islanders.

    • Taking Page from Israel War Tactics, US Military Employs Controversial ‘Roof Knocking’

      An Israeli tactic deemed “ineffective” at preventing civilian causalities by a United Nations commission has now been adopted by the United States in its fight against ISIS, according to a U.S. military official.

      Air Force Maj. Peter Gersten, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the U.S.-led coalition, explained at a press briefing Tuesday that the tactic dubbed “knocking on the roof” was, in fact, used during a strike in Mosul, Iraq against a “major distributor of funds to Daesh fighters.” A woman the military had seen come and go with her children from the building died in the strike—”an unfortunality,” as Gersten called it.

      “We went as far as actually to put a Hellfire on top of the building and air burst it so it wouldn’t destroy the building, simply knock on the roof to ensure that she and the children were out of the building. And then we proceeded with our operations,” Gersten said. He went on to say that ISIS fighters are “using the civilian force as human shields.” He said that the military saw the woman and children leave the building. They then “began to process the strike,” but the woman ran back into the building and was killed.

    • Why NATO Has Become One of the Most Destructive Forces on the Planet

      Europe is rife with political conflict. Southern European economies continue to splutter along on fumes. The defeat of the Grexit (Greece’s departure from the Euro) is temporary. When the pain of austerity rises once again, the politics of exit from Europe will return. In Spain, there is no government as the conservatives refuse to give up power to the anti-austerity bloc in parliament. The “refugee crisis” continues to rattle European societies, where an anti-refugee bloc has made gains at the ballot box. Austria is the latest test, where the far right anti-refugee party and the Green Party displaced the establishment parties in the presidential elections; it is the right and the Greens that will go for a run-off. It is this polarity between the Far Right and the Left that has broken the “centrist” consensus of European politics.

    • How Big Money in Politics Fuels Inequality and War

      Following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision and related rulings, corporations and the wealthiest Americans gained the legal right to raise and spend as much money as they want on political candidates.

      [...]

      Most notoriously this included Halliburton, a military contractor previously led by Dick Cheney. The company made huge profits from George W. Bush’s decision to wage a costly, unjustified, and illegal war while Cheney served as his vice president.

      Military-industrial corporations spend heavily on political campaigns. They’ve given over $1 million to this year’s presidential candidates so far — over $200,000 of which went to Hillary Clinton, who leads the pack in industry backing.

    • Rahm AWOL on Chicago Police Reform

      Chicago is a city on edge. Last weekend, 20 people were shot over 13 hours. According to the Chicago Tribune, 1,051 have been shot this year alone, through April 25. One hundred seventy-eight have been killed, more than one each day. And while shootings take place across the city, they are concentrated in neighborhoods scarred by deep poverty.

    • US Pivot to Asia Poised to Enter Nuclear Phase

      I’m expecting tactical nuclear weapons to reappear overtly in the US military equation for Asia…

    • What The Next Execution Tells Us About Childhood Trauma And The Death Penalty

      Less than two weeks after executing Kenneth Fults, Georgia is getting ready to lethally inject its fifth death row inmate this year.

      Daniel Anthony Lucas is scheduled to die Wednesday night for the fatal shootings of two children. He doesn’t dispute that he committed the crime. But his story demonstrates how early childhood trauma plays out on death rows across the country today. A substantial number of executions involve people who grew up around substance abuse or grew up in environments where violence and neglect was the norm.

    • Searching for Ground Truth in the Kunduz Hospital Bombing

      Deliberately targeting a hospital is a war crime, after all, but so is the indiscriminate killing of civilians outside a hospital. And it’s worth noting, according to a Western security analyst who is an expert on Kunduz, that “even if they had struck the NDS headquarters, there still would have been civilian casualties.” The NDS office, which the U.S. military has said was the intended target, stands in a residential neighborhood, as do the private home and the tea factory that were also bombed on the night of the MSF hospital strike. An AC-130, the analyst pointed out, is a disproportionate and indiscriminate weapon, not appropriate for use in civilian areas in the dead of night.

    • Bob Graham Says FBI Aggressively Deceived on Sarasota 9/11 Investigation

      James Clapper has suggested that the 28 pages of the Joint Congressional Inquiry may be declassified by June. I’m skeptical the pages will be entirely declassified, but look forward to them.

      Meanwhile, former Senate Intelligence Chair has begun to press for an accounting on the Sarasota cell of apparent 9/11 supporters. In an interview with NPR, he stated clearly that FBI lied (um, misstated) what they knew about the Sarasota cell and called for the investigations to be reopened without the tight time limits imposed on the original commissions.

    • French Assembly adopts resolution calling to end anti-Russian sanctions imposed by EU

      French MPs have voted in favor of a resolution to lift the EU-imposed sanctions initially slapped on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine and the reunification with Crimea. The document is non-binding.

      Fifty-five members of the French National Assembly have supported the resolution calling on the government not to extend the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU. Forty-four voted against and two abstained. Of the 577 deputies in the National Assembly, the lower house of the French Parliament, 101 took part in the vote.

    • The People of the USA will Have the Final Word

      It has been repeatedly said that the American people are the only ones who could perform the Herculean task of bringing down the most powerful and bloodthirsty empire ever known to humankind. Humanity anxiously hopes to see the US people act, and will provide the solidarity they would have earned.

      [...]

      The continuous embarrassing exposure of prisoners’ human rights violations – including torture and serious indignities– in US public or secret prisons scattered around the world, have awakened the awareness of millions of Americans who condemn such injustice.

    • Tibet, symbolism and the Czech Republic

      According to the official statement of the dean’s office, the display of the Tibetan flag was a symbol of the institution’s freedom of thought, a critical expression of the injustices of our times and therefore a reaction to a state visit “reminiscent of communist-era masquerades”.

    • Ten inconsistencies in Donald Trump’s big foreign policy address

      For a speech purporting to challenge Washington’s accepted wisdom, there was much that was familiar about Donald Trump’s first big foreign policy address, not least the customary certainty of its delivery.

      A call to challenge radical Islam through “philosophical struggle” as well as military force might even have come from the lips of Barack Obama. Certainly no mainstream Republican would ever disagree with the somewhat motherhood-and-apple-pie exhortation for US presidents to view the world “through the clear lens of American interests”.

    • 46 Seconds Everyone Should Watch Before Handing Donald Trump The Nuclear Codes

      Now, however, things are getting serious. Trump is, in all likelihood, one of the two people with a shot at becoming our next president. As Commander-In-Chief, Trump would have full control of America’s nuclear weapons arsenal and would be in charge of our diplomatic relationships with the other 8 nations that possess nuclear weapons.

      Trump has said that he believes nuclear weapons are the greatest threat facing our country. Yet the nuclear deterrence strategy he outlined last night during a 46-second soundbite on Fox News borders on incoherency.

    • ‘Outrageous Targeting’ as MSF-Supported Hospital in Syria Bombed

      Doctors Without Borders said Thursday that a hospital it supported in the Syrian city of Aleppo was bombed, destroying the key pediatric facility and killing at least 14 people.

      The medical humanitarian aid group, also known by its French acronym, MSF, said in a statement that two doctors were among the casualties, including one of last pediatricians in Aleppo, and that other medical structures in the city had also been attacked this week.

      Witnesses said the Al Quds hospital was hit by a missile from a fighter jet Wednesday, according to CNN.

    • US expats told to ‘avoid crowded places’ in Stockholm

      The US embassy has warned Americans to avoid crowded places in Sweden as Swedish security police continues to investigate a potential terror threat against Stockholm.

    • Veteran Hindu saint murdered in Bangladesh by pro-Jihadists.

      A Hindu priest died on Saturday, a day after he was stabbed by a local Islamist lumpen in Tungipara of Gopalganj. The deceased Hindu man eschewed his material association with his family life and entered into a life of sainthood for greater social service and emancipation.

      Police arrested the Muslim youth identified as Shariful Sheikh (aged 25), son of Abdul Mannan Sheikh, in the murder case filed in a local police station.

      The dead, Sadhu Paramananda Roy, 75, of Dakkhin Bashuria village under Kushali union, used to preach Hindu values according to scriptures to the people at different programmes in the area, family members said. He was a disciple of Thakur Rasraj Roy.

      He was returning home on last Friday afternoon from a market near Gimadanga village. As he reached a bridge around 6:30pm, fanatic Shariful stabbed him in the abdomen and the right hand with a knife, the victim told his family members before his death.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • BREAKING: DSM Communication on Platforms leaked!

      The role and responsibility of online platforms and intermediaries is a key issue in the Digital Single MarketStrategy, which the EU Commission launched last May [see Katposts here, here, here, here and here]. After a number of public consultations, on-line and off-line enthusiasts were anxiously awaiting for the Commission to release a Communication on that very issue by the end of May 2016. A few hours ago, Politico provided for a good remedy against our anxiety by leaking the draft Communication, which bears the lovely title “Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market Opportunities and Challenges for Europe”. The draft version is dated 18 April.

      The draft Communication addresses a number of DSM initiatives where platforms’ liability is involved and shades light upon the general principles that will guide the Commission’s reform efforts as regards E-Commerce, AVMS, and IPRED Directives. Overall, the draft Communication describes a strongly pro-competition program that reminds to this Kat the EU he knew when he attended university [i.e., agesago], when the Commission was perceived as a disruptive Institution aimed at battling status quos, rather than preserving them. Be that as it may, here are the major points that the Communication addresses.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Belarus’s Chernobyl taboo

      Thirty years after the catastrophe at Chernobyl, the government of neighbouring Belarus still refuses to release information about real radiation levels in the surrounding area. It’s even planning to build a new nuclear power plant.

    • Rejection of Montana Coal Train a ‘Big Win’ for Ranchers and Environmentalists

      Driving one more nail into the coal industry’s coffin, a federal board on Tuesday officially rejected a proposal to build a coal-hauling railroad through farm and ranch land in southeastern Montana.

      Ranchers and environmentalists, who aggressively opposed the project, celebrated the Surface Transportation Board ruling.

      “It’s a historic day when a federal agency recognizes there’s no foreseeable future for coal,” stated Ken Rumelt, an attorney at the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic at the Vermont Law School, who represented the grassroots conservation group Northern Plains Resource Council (NPRC) before the Board.

    • Summer swelter will be no joy for US

      Scientists warn that the current pleasures of warmer weather will pall for US citizens as climate change brings extreme temperature rises and unhealthy levels of atmospheric ozone.

    • Germany to launch 1 billion-euro discount scheme for electric car buyers

      Germany is set to launch a new incentive scheme worth about 1 billion euros ($1 billion) to get more consumers buying electric cars as it struggles to meet a target of bringing 1 million of them onto its roads by the end of the decade.

      The costs of the incentives, similar to those already established in some other European countries, are to be shared equally between the government and automakers with a view to selling an additional 400,000 electric cars, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said on Wednesday.

      Critics say higher electricity generation to charge battery cars will increase carbon dioxide emissions.

    • Germany Just Announced A Major Push To Increase Electric Car Sales
    • Malaysia planning to amend law to seize land if there are big fires

      Malaysia is proposing to amend an Act to allow the government to seize control of land where big fires are discovered, as part of its long-term efforts to curb haze from slash-and-burn forest clearing techniques usually linked to palm oil plantations.

      The palm oil sector in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia has been facing criticism for deforestation and its land-clearing methods that send vast plumes of smoke across South-east Asia every year.

      Indonesia has already taken measures to reduce the industry’s environmental impact, with the latest being a moratorium on new oil palm concessions.

    • Panama Papers Prove America Has the Money to Transition to 100% Clean Energy

      Last week, the IRS asked anyone who might be exposed in the Panama Papers to come forward before they get caught. And for good reason—America is a hotbed of tax evasion.

      There’s an old myth that we can’t have a comfortable lifestyle—cars, homes, creature comforts—without sacrificing clean water and clean air, because it requires lots of energy and we don’t have the money to transition to cleaner energy sources.

    • Climate Change Is Driving Ocean Oxygen Levels Down, And That’s a Big Problem For Marine Ecosystems

      Scientists know that climate change is slowly robbing the oceans of their oxygen, but historically, it’s been hard to differentiate oxygen loss that’s due to natural ocean cycles and warming-driven loss. Now, a new study predicts that within the next 15 to 25 years, warming-caused oxygen loss will be detectable across the worlds’ oceans.

      The study, published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, used modelling to determine that, between 2030 and 2040, warming-caused oxygen loss will be severe enough — and data will be comprehensive enough — for scientists to see what parts of the ocean are being affected by human-caused deoxygenation.

  • Finance

    • Capitalism Without the Das Capital: Welcome to Uber’s Gig Economy

      Uber has succeeded in almost completely pushing its operating costs (absent the relatively small investment needed to run the app and backoffice) down to people who often can’t afford it but are lured into trying because the alternatives seem even lower paying.

      [...]

      In addition to having to raise their own capital to essentially buy themselves a job driving for Uber, drivers face risks far above the simple “risk” associated with any “investment.”

    • ‘Let the Rich Pay More Taxes’: Thousands Take to Streets in Costa Rica

      Public sector workers in Costa Rica were on strike Tuesday and Wednesday, demanding salary increases, higher taxes on the wealthy, and land rights for peasants.

      Thousands of teachers, medical workers, and their allies reportedly marched to the national congress building on Tuesday, demonstrating to President Luis Guillermo Solís “that the people are not happy with his administration,” said Gilberto Cascante, the president of the ANDE teachers union, one of three major teachers unions joining the strike.

      Spanish language news agency EFE reports that protesters carried banners with messages like “Let the rich pay more taxes” and “For the dignity of workers,” among others.

    • SF College Faculty Strike for Justice Stop Class Reductions & Pay Cuts

      Currently, there are approximately 43.3 million Americans carrying student loans amounting to an astounding $1.2 trillion. This is greater than the country’s towering credit card bill. And, it’s getting worse. 2015 graduates set a new record of indebtedness.

    • How the Democrats Destroyed Welfare [Ed: short]
    • Inequality Will Increase Until There’s a Revolution

      Imagine, after a deep sleep, you suffered the fate of Rip Van Winkle and woke in the spring of 2040. What might you find?

      Among other things, maybe a presidential candidate railing against America’s concentration of wealth. Except this time, it’s not the 1 percent that owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent — it’s the top hundredth of a percent.

      Could it get that bad? Yes, quite easily. In fact, that nightmare is already on the way.

      To see this better, take a step back in time. If you woke up 24 years ago, you could hear candidate Bill Clinton lamenting the fact that the top 1 percent owned as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

    • Elon Musk, Crony Capitalist

      Creating something that people want is how one gets wealthy in a market economy. Sadly, there’s another way to get rich. It’s called cronyism, and it can make billions for the lucky businesses that get government support—whether their products are profitable or not. In the process, the taxpayers foot the bill.

      Taxpayer insurance against unprofitability takes many forms, from loan guarantees to grants, which provide a no-lose scenario for beneficiaries. If the business is profitable, then the corporation makes massive profits. If the business goes bust, then the taxpayers take a hit. Either way, the crony capitalist wins.

      Perhaps the most prominent case of cronyism in modern history is Elon Musk. A brilliant entrepreneur, Musk founded the online payment company X.com with profits he made off the sale of Zip2—another profitable company and the first online version of the Yellow Pages. X.com eventually merged with Confinity and became the wildly successful PayPal.

    • Economic Growth Slows to 0.5% in First Quarter

      The economy grew at a sluggish 0.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter. The main culprits for the poor performance were downturns in durable goods, nonresidential construction, and defense spending. This is the third year in a row in which growth has been poor in the first quarter, which means that one-off excuses about snowstorms and so forth don’t really hold water anymore. But it might be a statistical artifact. Jared Bernstein says “there’s some concern with the seasonal adjusters, which some argue are biasing Q1 down and Q2 up.” I guess we’ll have to wait until Q2 to find out.

    • Are Fair Trade Policies “Extreme?” Is Clinton Ready For Trump On Trade?

      In our country’s current trade regime, however, “trade” is used as a justification and enabler for closing American factories and moving American jobs to places where people are paid less and the environment is not protected, and bringing the same goods that used to be made here back here and selling them in the same outlets. The people who used to employ those American workers can then pocket the wage and environmental-protection-cost differential; the country gets a massive trade deficit.

    • Saudi efforts to ‘modernise’ its economy away from oil are just PR tactics – and the West is lapping them up

      Just like his adventure in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s young Deputy Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman got it all wrong this week. It’s not Saudi Arabia which suffers from “oil addiction”, it’s we who are addicted. The unique Saudi drug – a cocktail of wealth, arrogance and infantile Puritanism – is far more dangerous, since it depends on the arithmetic (or myth) of its 716 billion barrels of oil reserves.

      If this statistic is as ill-conceived as the Sunni Saudi war on Yemen’s Shiite Houthis, along with its massive civilian casualties, then Prince Mohamed’s ‘reforms’ – oiled (if that’s the right word) by a $2 trillion public investment fund which would take over ownership of the state oil company Aramco – will have to kick in long before the deadline of his ‘Vision 2030’.

      [...]

      No wonder, as the Washington Post revealed this month, the Saudis are spending millions on Washington’s top law, lobby and public relations companies to promote foreign investment in the Saudi economy – some of them, according to the paper, “tasked with coming up with content for the [Saudi Washington] embassy’s official Twitter and YouTube accounts”. The PR firm Qorvis, it turned out, also ran the Twitter account for the Syrian Opposition Coalition. Firms like Podesta, BGR Government Affairs, DLA Piper and Pillsbury Winthrop are trying to raise the Kingdom’s “visibility”.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Could Voters Opposed to Both Clinton and Trump Team up Using VotePact?

      Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have incredibly high negatives. Most people don’t agree with, like or trust either. In a political system responsive to the public, an alternative with broad support would emerge if they become the nominees, as seems increasingly likely.

      Unfortunately, in our system — which enshrines the dominance of the two establishment parties — the negatives of each end up perversely being the basis of support for the other. Voters end up being trapped by the very unpopularity of the candidates. The main things holding the system together are fear and hate — even as the candidates claim to be bringing people together.

      That is, most people supporting Clinton are not doing so because they view her as upstanding, wise or just. They support her because they fear and despise Trump and his misogyny, racism and temperament.

      And the same largely goes for Trump. He supporters back him because they detest the establishment of the Republican Party as well as Clinton, who shares so much with that very Republican establishment even as she postures as a newly born progressive.

    • The Atlantic Primaries: Trump and Clinton Consolidate

      Sanders won Rhode Island, the only state that had an open primary, allowing independents to vote. The others were limited to registered Democrats only, effectively blocking independent and many young voters from casting a ballot.

    • Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Challenging Arizona’s Disastrous Primary

      Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Gass has tossed a lawsuit from a Tucson, Arizona voter challenging the March 22 presidential primary, which was marred by confusion, 5-hour lines, and rampant errors.

    • After Bitter Tuesday, Progressives Ask Democratic Party What It Stands For

      ‘What I want to know from my Democratic Party is…when will our voices be effective, legitimate, equal leaders?’

    • Amid Media Megamergers, A Mosaic of Community Media Thrives

      The business press is all atwitter with merger news, as federal regulators are set to approve a massive deal between cable giants Charter, Time Warner and Bright House Networks. The $78 billion transaction will create the second-largest cable TV/Internet company, dubbed “New Charter,” next to Comcast, and leave just three major cable providers in the U.S. Meanwhile, the Gannett Company, which owns more than 100 newspapers, including USA Today, is attempting to acquire Tribune Publishing, which owns several major newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

    • On Open Marriages and Closed Elections

      Cheating is a word that simply is redefined in an open marriage. Hillary and Bill Clinton have had an open marriage for decades. Most of us don’t know the terms of the arrangement. Nor should we, I suppose. Don’t sleep with my friends or lovers might be one. Who knows? Palling around with Jeffrey Epstein the pedophile?

    • An Alternative After a Likely Bern-Out: The Green Party’s Jill Stein

      With Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign falling short, his followers have limited choices. Many would support Hillary Clinton. But the cadre of activists and political newcomers, including the young who have flocked to him, may not accept that choice. Perhaps they’ll retreat from the 2016 election battle. Perhaps they’ll find another candidate.

      They would be welcomed by Dr. Jill Stein. The physician-activist is favored to win the Green Party presidential nomination this year after heading the party’s ticket in 2012.

      “The whole reason for having an independent third party that cannot be silenced is there are 25 percent of Bernie’s voters who are not going into that dark night to vote for the No. 1 cheerleader for Wal-Mart, for Wall Street, for an endless war,” Stein said in a telephone interview this week. “They are looking for another place to hang their hat.”

    • Drudge, Koch, Soros, Bezos: 4 Non-Politicians Exerting an Outsized Influence on the Election

      So-called dark money, in conjunction with a wide-reaching “mouthpiece,” paves the road to the Oval Office—and even a brilliant John Oliver expose can’t change that.

    • Sanders Calls for 50-State Strategy to ‘Revitalize American Democracy’

      Bemoaning a failing democratic process that leaves too many people left out, Bernie Sanders on Thursday said his campaign would continue to bring disenfranchised people into the political process and said the Democratic Party as a whole must forge a 50-state strategy in order to restore civic vibrancy and fuel meaningful outcomes on the key issues people care about in every community nationwide.

    • Dark money group spends $58,000 attacking Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

      Since it formed in 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been under siege from financial institutions. Senate Republicans tried very hard to stop it from functioning at all, and since then they’ve tried to “tighten the leash” on the agency. Nearly five years since it officially opened, a new dark money group is taking aim at the agency — and no one has any idea who’s behind it.

      Protect America’s Consumers is a 501(c)(4) group that incorporated in November 2015. Its registered agent is North Rock Reports LLC, located at the same address in Warrenton, Va., as the law firm Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky. According to Politico, “The firm specializes in untraceable pressure groups for conservative causes.” In 2012, Bloomberg News reported that the firm was tied to groups that had spent more than $250 million on the 2012 election, including Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. In 2015, the firm represented the super PAC Pursuing America’s Greatness before the U.S. District Court in D.C., defending its right to use Mike Huckabee’s name in its communications. Jill Vogel, a partner at the firm, is also a Virginia state senator; her website describes the firm as “a law firm that specializes in charity and nonprofit organizations, election law, and ethics.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Online censorship: A new flank in the US-China trade wars?

      Remember Hillary Clinton’s internet freedom agenda? In a groundbreaking speech in 2010, Clinton outlined her State Department policy for promoting internet freedom in the context of human rights and democratisation. This meant funding anti-surveillance tools, chiding repressive governments, and funding efforts to support online democratic activism in troubled states.

    • China Just Earned Its Worst Ever Score in an Annual Global Press Freedom Survey

      On Wednesday, China scored its worst ever marks in the new Freedom of the Press report by Freedom House, with the advocacy group blaming a “trend of ideological tightening” under Xi. Freedom House scored China 87/100 — with higher marks indicating greater restrictions — on press freedom in its 2016 survey. (Last year was the China’s previous worst score with 86.)

    • The waltz of censorship

      In order to avoid censorship, Flaubert honed his prose to convey the scandalous in a subversively indirect manner, making readers complicit in the immorality by inviting them to apply their own understanding to the text. Analysis of Flaubert’s manuscript drafts of Madame Bovary compared to the published text reveals that the author trimmed and entirely cut explicit passages. It is hard to tell whether alterations were legally or artistically motivated. Flaubert was famously fastidious about writing and it could be that his wish to sublimate scandalous content was solely (or at least primarily) due to literary considerations.

    • New Study Shows Mass Surveillance Breeds Meekness, Fear and Self-Censorship

      A newly published study from Oxford’s Jon Penney provides empirical evidence for a key argument long made by privacy advocates: that the mere existence of a surveillance state breeds fear and conformity and stifles free expression. Reporting on the study, the Washington Post this morning described this phenomenon: “If we think that authorities are watching our online actions, we might stop visiting certain websites or not say certain things just to avoid seeming suspicious.”

      The new study documents how, in the wake of the 2013 Snowden revelations (of which 87% of Americans were aware), there was “a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned ‘al-Qaeda,’ “car bomb’ or ‘Taliban.’” People were afraid to read articles about those topics because of fear that doing so would bring them under a cloud of suspicion. The dangers of that dynamic were expressed well by Penney: “If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate.”

    • Press Freedom Declining Around the World

      Every year Reporters Without Borders (RSF) compile an index of press freedom around the world. The index has been published since 2002 and measures the state of press freedom in 182 countries. It measures “the media freedom situation based on an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists in each country”. The data is compiled through a questionnaire (answered by experts around the globe) and combined with quantitative data on violence and abuses against journalists.

    • Will Ankara’s new culture plan lead to more censorship of the arts?

      On April 21, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu revealed the long-awaited sustainable cultural development plan in Ankara. The program, commonly referred to as “culture package,” has been in the works for over four months. Davutoglu’s one-hour introduction of the plan generated more questions than answers. He suggested, for instance, that it was the responsibility of artists in Turkish society to act as amicable peacemakers. At one point during his speech he said, “When a society is approaching a crisis, you [artists] should be the light of hope. You must stand against polarization, you must spread a unifying language.”

    • Wikipedia Is Basically a Corporate Bureaucracy, According to a New Study

      Wikipedia is a voluntary organization dedicated to the noble goal of decentralized knowledge creation. But as the community has evolved over time, it has wandered further and further from its early egalitarian ideals, according to a new paper published in the journal Future Internet. In fact, such systems usually end up looking a lot like 20th century bureaucracies.

      Even in the brave new world of online communities, the Who had it right: “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    • Huffington Post killed story pitch critical of Uber

      Uber yesterday announced that Huffington Post Editor in Chief Arianna Huffington would be joining its board of directors, a move that put the site’s reporters in an instant bind. To fight the notion that Huffington Post would somehow take it easy on Uber because of these ties, Huffington’s folks noted that her news operation has churned out various hard-hitting stories on Uber while the announcement was “impending,” as spokeswoman Lena Auerbuch put it.

      There was an omission, however.

      On April 6, reporter Sarah Digiulio sent a note to some colleagues apprising them of this story in the New York Times: “Uber Driver Napped as His Passenger Led Highway Chase, Police Say.”

    • The Crime of Speech

      Freedom of expression is a universal right, but the specific threats to it vary widely from country to country and region to region. As activists fighting for free speech worldwide, it is essential that we better understand the specific legal and procedural mechanisms that governments use to silence it. When you begin to untangle the array of laws that are used to prosecute speech in a given country, you get a much clearer picture of the state of digital rights in that country.

      EFF is proud to present The Crime of Speech: How Arab Governments Use the Law to Silence Expression Online. This report was the culmination of six months of work by Wafa Ben Hassine as an Information Controls Fellow through the Open Technology Fund. The ICFP fellowship supports examination into how governments restrict the free flow of information, debilitate the open Internet, and thereby threaten human rights and democracy.

    • Time to put an end to film censorship

      When the credits rolled over Sholay’s powerfully ambiguous ending—Sanjeev Kumar’s Thakur on his knees beside the body of the man he had just killed, Amjad Khan’s Gabbar Singh, weeping in despair—Ramesh Sippy had established his film as perhaps the most iconic representation of Indian popular cinema in the public consciousness.

      Save that it didn’t quite turn out that way. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) deemed the idea that a police officer would violate the law and kill a man in this fashion distasteful. It demanded that the ending be changed. A furious Sippy complied and shot the anodyne sequence everyone knows; the police arrive in time to prevent Gabbar Singh’s murder and arrest him instead. Sholay had enough going for it to survive the hit mostly unscathed—but Sippy’s authorial vision had been violated.

    • A major Hollywood screenwriter self-censored because he was worried about angering China
    • ‘Doctor Strange’ shows why diversity advocates should take Chinese censorship seriously
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • First FISC Phone Records Ruling Post-USA FREEDOM Exposes Shortcomings of Reforms

      The secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had its first opportunity to review a government request for telephone call records since the enactment in June 2015 of the USA FREEDOM Act, which placed some restrictions and oversight on the NSA’s surveillance powers. Unfortunately the results of this first post-USA FREEDOM FISC review are not pretty, and remind us all that there is still much work to be done.

      In approving a request for “call detail records” by the FBI, Judge Thomas Hogan allowed the FBI to get people’s call records even in the absence of any belief that those records will be relevant to an investigation, and let the bureau keep records with no foreign intelligence value for 6 months or longer even though USA FREEDOM requires “prompt” destruction of such records. He also declined to take advantage of the new provisions that allow him to appoint an amicus to help sort through the new statute. The opinion, issued on December 31, 2015, was made public April 19, 2016.

    • Supreme Court Gives FBI More Hacking Power

      The Supreme Court on Thursday approved changes that would make it easier for the FBI to hack into computers, many of them belonging to victims of cybercrime. The changes will take immediate affect in December, unless Congress adopts competing legislation.

      Previously, under the federal rules on criminal procedures, a magistrate judge couldn’t approve a warrant request to search a computer remotely if the investigator didn’t know where the computer was—because it might be outside his or her jurisdiction.

      The rule change, sent in a letter to Congress on Thursday, would allow a magistrate judge to issue a warrant to search or seize an electronic device if the target is using anonymity software like Tor. Over a million people use Tor to browse popular websites like Facebook every month for perfectly legitimate reasons, in addition to criminals who use it to hide their locations.

    • Game Critic Keeps YouTube Vids Ad-Free By Creating ContentID Feeding Frenzy

      You should know by now that YouTube’s ContentID system is a horrible mess. This system, which allows purported intellectual property owners to claim other people’s uploads as containing their content, and then allowing those purported owners to either take the videos down or monetize them for themselves, is so rife with abuse, trolls, and mistakes that it’s a wonder anyone at any point thought this was an idea that could work. Lost in all of this bowing towards intellectual property owners has bred some creative methods for getting around ContentID abuse, but it’s still a problem. A problem particularly challenging in the video game reviews space on YouTube, where entirely too many game studios think that using ContentID to flag game reviews is a practice worth repeating.

    • What the NSA Doesn’t Know? How Many Americans It’s Spying On

      At a press briefing on Monday, National Intelligence Director James Clapper stated that his intelligence network has no idea how many Americans are spied on by the National Security Agency (NSA).

      Congress is being pushed to approve giving the nationally-mandated Federal Bureau of Investigation access to NSA data, undermining the claim that the notorious surveillance agency is not targeting American citizens, but lawmakers seek an answer to a basic question before giving approval.

    • New ‘Tinder Social’ feature under fire for exposing Facebook friends

      There’s the online persona you want to share with your friends — carefully filtered Instagram photos of your sublime beach vacation, for example.

      Then there’s the side you’d perhaps rather keep private — like your Tinder profile.

      But a new feature on the dating app seems to be mixing the two.

      Tinder has come under fire after testing a new feature called Tinder Social for a small number of users in Australia.

      It allows users to create a group of friends, who can then swipe and match with other groups of friends.

    • Zuckerberg has given Facebook investors all they need. He wants one thing in return: control

      Mark Zuckerberg has dominated the desktop internet. He’s dominated the mobile internet. Now he’s going to dominate Facebook itself, and the company is probably going to let him.

    • NSA lauds The Citadel for cybersecurity training [Ed: How long before puff pieces like this one once again outnumber actual NSA news (like pre-2013)?]
    • Germany outlines plan to create Bundeswehr cyber command

      German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen outlined on 26 April a plan to establish a dedicated cyber and information command by merging the Bundeswehr’s current cyber and IT units.

      The Kommando Cyber- und Informationsraum (Cyber and Information Space Command) will be responsible for cyber, IT, military intelligence, geo-information, and operative communication. It will be headed from 1 April 2017 by a lieutenant-general.

    • Defense authorization bill would elevate Cyber Command

      A defense authorization bill that cleared a House committee early Thursday would elevate U.S. Cyber Command and launch a review into whether the agency should still be run by the National Security Agency (NSA) head.

    • The US declares cyber-war on Islamic State
    • U.S. Cyber Command closer to break from NSA

      In an acknowledgement that cyber war is gathering momentum on the international stage, the House on Thursday cleared a defense authorization bill that could split off the U.S. Cyber Command from under the direction of U.S. Strategic Command and the National Security Agency (NSA) and elevate it to its own military command, according to The Hill.

    • Watch: The New Trailer for Oliver Stone’s Biopic of Edward Snowden

      The film covers similar ground as Citizenfour, the 2014 documentary chronicling the fallout of Snowden’s revelations, which was directed by Laura Poitras, one of the journalists who helped report on the documents, along with Glenn Greenwald. Citizenfour received the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2015.

    • Even The Surveillance-Loving Wall Street Journal Is Bashing The FBI For Its War With Apple

      The Wall Street Journal has been a reliably pro-surveillance voice over the years, calling Snowden a “sociopath” while calling for even less NSA oversight, making up bizarre conspiracy theories, and fighting back against any surveillance reform. It even once argued that the tech industry should put backdoors into its encryption to better help the surveillance state.

    • Dangerous new uses for government eavesdropping

      The U.S. government claims the right to eavesdrop at will on your email when you’re writing to someone who lives abroad. Now it wants to be able to use those emails to convict you of a crime.

      [...]

      No court has yet reviewed the law’s constitutionality because until 2013 the government didn’t tell anyone that it had been doing this. The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that no one had legal standing to challenge the law based merely on the speculation that it might be applied to them.

    • Italy orders Facebook to hand over fake user account data to its alleged victim

      The Italian data protection authority has ordered Facebook to provide an Italian user with all their data, including the personal information, photos, and posts of a separate fake account set up in that person’s name by somebody else.

      In addition, the US social network must provide details of how the personal data was used, including who it was sent to or might have obtained knowledge about it.

    • Students shrug over NSA spying

      Last year, as the school bathroom wars were heating up, I asked a group of college students how they’d feel if they had to share a toilet with people of a different gender. Nobody seemed to mind; indeed, some of them were doing so already.

    • The NSA has no idea how many Americans it’s spying on

      The answer, says National Intelligence Director James Clapper, is that we have no idea. “We’re looking at several options right now, none of which are optimal,” said Clapper at a press briefing in Washington DC on April 25. Security officials argue that analyzing the dataset would mean even more intrusions upon Americans’ privacy. “Many people find that unsatisfactory, but that is a fact,” says Clapper.

    • Watch first Snowden trailer: Whistle-blower mocks NSA on Twitter

      The first trailer of political thriller Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is out. If the 2.39 minute-long trailer is anything to go by, the movie seems to be fast-paced, action-packed and chaotic.

      Academy-winning director Oliver Stone, whose directing opus includes Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July and George W Bush biographical drama W, is the mastermind behind this sensational thriller. The movie recreates the story of Edward Snowden, who went from being an aspiring Special Forces member to a fugitive living in Russia under political asylum. In the movie, Shailene Woodley features as Snowden’s long-term girlfriend Lindsay Mills, while Nicolas Cage plays an unnamed government official.

    • Snowden trailer is out: Oliver Stone unveils the true story behind NSA leak

      The story of National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden captivated the US in 2013 and now Snowden is getting the Hollywood treatment, as the trailer for Oliver Stone’s Snowden was released on Wednesday (April 27).

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Commons and the Centennial of the Easter Rising

      The Proclamation called on Irishmen and Irishwomen to strike for freedom. The republicans were “supported by her exiled children in America.” “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible.” Sovereignty meant independence from Great Britain, the United Kingdom, England. James Connolly explained, “the essential meanness of the British Empire is that it robs under pretence of being generous.” What was true of the British Empire is doubly true for the American who call robbery “aid.”

    • ‘Stark deterioration of press freedom’ in Europe, says Index on Censorship

      There has been a “stark deterioration of press freedom” in Europe in 2016 with conflict in Turkey and Ukraine creating especially difficult conditions for journalists.

      Index on Censorship said it had seen 301 verified incidents reported to its Mapping Freedom project over the first three months of the year, including four deaths and 43 assaults. The figure is up 30% on the first quarter of 2015.

      Three of the killed journalists died while reporting on conflict in Turkey, while a third, Russian culture journalist Dmitiri Tsilikin, was stabbed to death in his St Petersburg flat.

      Of the 43 assaults, more than half occurred in Ukraine, Italy or Russia, with 12 in the Ukraine alone.

      There were also 27 arrests recorded, with 15 in Turkey when journalists were reporting on violence or protests, with a pattern of arrest on terror charges or during anti-terror operations.

    • John McCain’s Fundraiser Busted for a Meth Lab With LSD, Coke, Heroin and Counterfeit Cash

      Sen. John McCain’s re-election fundraisers all list the same name as the RSVP contact, but that name also showed up as a person arrested during the bust of a meth lab Tuesday.

      In Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff’s deputies made arrests when they found an operational meth lab as well as other illicit drugs when they were carrying out a search warrant for the woman’s home. According to The Arizona Republic, the sheriff’s office identified Emily Pitha, 34, who is a former staffer of retired U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). She also has worked most recently as a campaign fundraiser for McCain’s 2016 reelection.

    • FT post on Theresa May, Hillsborough, human rights law and the politics of superficiality

      In brief: the new Hillsborough Inquest could not have ranged as widely without Article 2 of the ECHR having effect in domestic law – the same ECHR which May wants the UK to leave.

    • The CIA Illegally Let the Wrong People Do Intelligence Work, Declassified Report Finds
    • OPSEC for Activists (Part 1)
    • OPSEC for Activists, Part 2: Packing for a Protest
    • Jeremy Corbyn, the future not the past

      Whatever the truth of that judgment, the surge continued. When his win seemed assured, but just before the actual vote, the second column fantasised on his first hundred days in power. This made the point that for many in the Labour Party, especially the tens of thousands of new members, Corbyn’s appeal stemmed from opposing what was seen as the cavalier way the Conservatives were reversing previous coalition policies in pursuit of ideological certitude:

    • Letter Details FBI Plan for Secretive Anti-Radicalization Committees

      The idea of the committees is to enlist counselors, social workers, religious figures, and other community members to intervene with people the FBI thinks are in danger of radicalizing — the sort of alternative to prosecution and jail time many experts have been clamoring for. But civil liberties groups worry the committees could become just a ruse to expand the FBI’s network of informants, and the government has refused to provide details about the program.

    • So Much For The Fifth Amendment: Man Jailed For Seven Months For Not Turning Over Password

      The FBI recently spent more than $1 million for assistance in decrypting a device’s contents. It may have overpaid. Alternatives exist, whether it’s a $5 wrench or indefinite imprisonment for not helping the government with its prosecution efforts.

    • The Geopolitics of Generosity

      On April 16, Ecuador suffered an earthquake registering 7.8 on the Richter scale. One week later, the death toll stood at 656, with more than twelve thousand injuries reported and more than fifty people still missing. Hundreds of aftershocks, some very powerful, continue to shake the country’s northwest coast and cause more damage.

      The day after the disaster, aid began arriving from Ecuador’s Latin American neighbors: Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Bolivia. Quick responses were crucial, as hundreds of people were still missing, many trapped in crumbling rubble.

    • Where Angels Fear to Tread

      I have accepted an offer from Sky News tomorrow to discuss anti-Semitism in the UK, where I shall argue that opponents of Israeli policy are being tarred with anti-Semitism in an witch-hunt.

      [...]

      There is a deliberate ploy by Israel to brand Palestinian sympathisers and critics of the Israeli state as anti-Semitic, in order to delegitimise criticism of Israel, as the settlements programme makes any two state solution completely non-viable.

    • Where will we end up? Terrorism, Islamophobia and the logic of fascism

      Fascism is not only a form of prejudice, it is also a political logic. A logic that reduces complex problems to ‘us and them’ issues.

    • Noam Chomsky: Young Bernie Sanders Supporters are a “Mobilized Force That Could Change the Country”

      During an event Tuesday at the Brooklyn Public Library, Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and professor, was asked about Bernie Sanders’ run for the White House. “[H]e’s considered radical and extremist, which is a pretty interesting characterization, because he’s basically a mainstream New Deal Democrat,” Chomsky said. “His positions would not have surprised President Eisenhower, who said, in fact, that anyone who does not accept New Deal programs doesn’t belong in the American political system. That’s now considered very radical.” Chomsky concluded by noting that Sanders “has mobilized a large number of young people, these young people who are saying, ‘Look, we’re not going to consent anymore.’ And if that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized force, that could change the country—maybe not for this election, but in the longer term.”

    • An Indictment of Thatcher’s Legacy: Justice for Hillsborough Families, at Last

      The victory of the Hillsborough families in their long struggle for justice was won against an establishment that viewed them and their loved ones as nothing more than scum and which, make no mistake, continues to do so today. Harsh words, perhaps, but true nonetheless. For at the very core of this scandal is the issue of class and the legacy of a prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, who throughout the 1980s waged war against working class people, communities, and sought to destroy the bonds of solidarity that provided them with their strength and pride in who they were.

    • In defence of today’s anti-fascist protesters

      Populist leaders today are unable to completely abolish multi-party systems, free press, individual freedom, or instigate actual war both inside and outside the country. But we can’t ignore the danger they present.

    • Hunger Strike in San Francisco Puts a Spotlight on Police Brutality

      At the corner of 17th and Valencia Streets in San Francisco late Tuesday afternoon, a group of about 20 protesters remained camped outside the Mission Police Station, fueled by coconut water, vitamin supplements, and cars honking in solidarity. Several were in the sixth day of a hunger strike. Their goal: The ouster of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr and his boss, Mayor Ed Lee, over a string of police violence and alleged misconduct.

      A stash of rations sat near the entrance of the station, where last week five people began the protest: Maria Cristina Gutierrez, Ilyich Sato, Sellassie Blackwell, Ike Peterson and Edwin Lindo. The demonstrators also set up three tents on a nearby corner. Gutierrez, a short, soft-spoken woman who runs a neighborhood preschool, has also at times escaped the cold evenings in her van parked across the street.

    • Workers Say T-Mobile Created A Fake Union To Kill The Real One

      One of the largest cell phone carriers in America is trying to derail a years-long campaign to organize tens of thousands of workers by creating a fake in-house union, Communication Workers of America (CWA) officials say.

      Union leaders are accusing T-Mobile of co-opting worker dissatisfaction through a new internal organization it calls T-Voice. The group functions as “a direct line for Frontline feedback to senior leadership,” according to an internal email obtained by Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson. But management selects the workers who serve as part of T-Voice, and has allegedly pointed to the group as a reason not to unionize during captive-audience meetings with employees.

    • Our Military Shouldn’t Turn Its Back on Servicewomen Who Need an Abortion

      How the U.S. military restricts servicewomen from accessing abortion on military bases is a discriminatory scandal.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Nervous About Regulatory Action, Comcast Bumps Usage Caps To One Terabyte Per Month

      After taking a PR beating for several years on the matter, Comcast has announced that it’s significantly bumping the company’s usage caps. Since 2013 Comcast has been conducting a “trial” in many of the company’s less competitive markets, capping usage at 300 GB per month, then charging users either $10 per each additional 50 gigabytes, or providing users the option of paying $30 to $35 per month extra to avoid the cap entirely. But according to a new blog post by the cable giant, the company will be bumping that usage allotment to one terabyte per month starting June 1.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Blizzard Pretends IP Made It Kill Fan Server

      Blizzard, maker of World of Warcraft, has a long and dubious history when it comes to trying to twist intellectual property laws and requirements to be whatever they want it to be at the time. These instances have mostly revolved around using copyright in an attempt to stop people who use cheat-bots to play the company’s games, as well as those who make the bots. The actual tactics Blizzard uses in those cases, which chiefly revolve around twisting copyright into knots as never intended, can get lost because of the hatred most players have for those who game the gaming system.

      But it’s a different story when it comes to Nostalrius, which was the name for fan-servers offering up a “vanilla” version of World of Warcraft to gamers who wanted to play the game without any of the expansion packs that Blizzard has released. Serving thousands of individual gamers, Blizzard decided the fan-server was a threat to its business and used trademark law to threaten those running it into shutting the whole thing down. Smart or not, Blizzard was within its rights to do this. Its explanation as to why, however, is absolutely dripping with bullshit and needs to be called out.

    • DTSA as a Shoe Horn for Contract and Employment Law Claims

      I expect that an important result of the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) will be the creation of supplemental federal jurisdiction over contract and employment disputes that are otherwise a matter of state law decided by state courts. The majority of trade secret lawsuits also involve breach of contract and/or employment law claims – with the breach serving as the requisite ‘improper means,’

    • Copyrights

      • Publishing and “the Machine”: help or hindrance?

        This Kat wants to make it clear: from his discussions, it seems that with a few stellar exceptions (some of whom this Kat has had the pleasure of working with), the broad strokes of his tale are not unique to the particular publisher involved. And yes, this Kat holds “the Machine” responsible in part. This Kat would like to think that he is not naïve. He knows that in today’s business climate, there is a strong push to replace labor with capital, even in the publishing world. Digital platforms are ultimately cheaper than additional employees. However, publishing still rests on the human element—author, editor, and publisher. Over reliance on a digital manuscript submission platform does harm to that interrelationship and the exercise of human judgment that has been a linchpin of publishing. Even if, for over 300 years, “the Machine” has been good to authors and publishers, it seems to this Kat the publication process is impaired when it develops an over reliance on digital platforms, at the expense of the human element and at the cost of rigidity and tunnel vision.

      • Techdirt Reading List: How To Fix Copyright

        Nevertheless, Patry was then convinced to write a follow up book How to Fix Copyright, in order to respond to those critics (most of whom will never be satisfied). Once again, the book is an excellent read. It is not — as some believed — an entire book dedicated to discussing possible solutions. Instead, it again spends a lot of time making sure people really understand how messed up copyright law has become, and then towards the end proposes a few, relatively simple, solutions (which, frankly, may not go far enough). It talks about things like bringing back formalities (i.e., make copyright opt-in again) and shortening copyright terms.

      • Lessons From Prince’s Legacy And Struggle With Digital Music Markets

        Famously, Prince, via Universal Music, was behind the “dancing baby” DMCA lawsuit, which featured Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” playing faintly in the background of a short clip as a toddler danced. Ultimately our friends at EFF, who were representing defendant Stephanie Lenz, prevailed on their fair use claim. In 2013, EFF awarded him their “Raspberry Beret Lifetime Aggrievement Award” for “extraordinary abuses of the takedown process in the name of silencing speech.”

      • Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood Withdraws Google Subpoena As Google Appeals Court Ruling

        Earlier this month, the Fifth Circuit appeals court tossed out the lawsuit that Google had filed against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, following Hood’s decision to send a subpoena that was written by the MPAA’s lawyers, as part of a plan by the MPAA to pay money to get state Attorneys General to attack Google.

        While some in the legacy copyright world painted the ruling in the Fifth Circuit as a “victory” for Jim Hood, and a loss for Google, anyone reading the details would recognize it was anything but that. The court made it pretty clear that Hood’s subpoena was ridiculous and had no chance of surviving a judicial review… but dumped the case on a procedural issue, arguing that since Jim Hood had not yet taken any action concerning Google’s unwillingness to respond to parts of the subpoena, there was nothing to dispute. Basically, the court said “wait until Hood actually tries to force you to do something… and then we’ll tell him his subpoena is bogus.”

Amid Referendum “the New European Unitary Patent System is Likely to Collapse Before It Started”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trojan horse

Summary: The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) vision seems like it may be just one month away from its gradual death, depending on British voices amongst other key factors

Ericsson used to make decent phones, but it’s no longer the same kind of company. Its presence in Europe is now parasitic. The company has been using patent trolls to sue companies in Europe and now there are head changes (new chief IP officer), which makes one wonder what the future of Europe holds. Might a central patent court facilitate continental lawsuits by Ericsson against a lot more practicing companies in a lot more countries? And if so, who would benefit the most?

“Might a central patent court facilitate continental lawsuits by Ericsson against a lot more practicing companies in a lot more countries?”Based on this new article by Dr. Boris Uphoff and Laura Morelli, Brexit can “stop the European Unitary Patent before it started,” to quote the headline. As they put it in the opening paragraph in a patent maximalism Web site:

On 23 June 2016, the British citizens will hold their referendum on the country’s membership in the European Union. Should they vote for the UK to leave the EU (the so-called ‘Brexit’), the new European unitary patent system is likely to collapse before it started.

There are several other barriers to the UPC, including the Spanish defiance. Ignore all the promotional (often paid-for) UPC propaganda. The future envisaged by Battistelli and his corporate masters for more than half a decade is now in jeopardy and Boards of Appeal may get their solidity back (filling up vacant positions, at long last, as per the EPC). As this legal analysis from a law firm (about Article 112a EPC) put it earlier today: “It has been a long day in Munich. You have reached the end of the Oral Proceedings and the European Patent Office (EPO) Board of Appeal announces its decision, which is final . . . or is it? When the updated European Patent Convention (EPC) 2000 came into force in December 2007, it also brought a new provision that allows a party to request decisions of the EPO Board of Appeal to be judicially reviewed by the Enlarged Board of Appeal. [...] While statistics show that petitions for review at the EPO have an extremely low likelihood of success, if the Board of Appeal has an incorrect composition or has committed a procedural or even criminal violation, that long day in Munich may not necessarily be the end of your case.”

“Battistelli needs to go away along with his UPC fantasy.”In reality, based on many people’s experience (I wrote to the Enlarged Board of Appeal a long time ago), these boards are probably one of the strongest elements of the EPO and eliminating them to give way to the UPC would be a horrible mistake. The system worked reasonably well in the past; what Battistelli does is attract patent aggressors, welcome more spurious litigation, software patents, patent trolls, and unprecedented cronyism. Battistelli needs to go away along with his UPC fantasy. He brought to the EPO nothing but a crisis.

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