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Board of Appeal Thwarts a Software Patent Application in the EPO, From Company Indirectly Connected to the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Baxter logoSummary: The story of an effort by a massive American (US) company to patent software in Europe, without success, owing to a Board of Appeal involvement

IN ITS reckless effort to maximise profit, as explained in our previous post, the European Patent Office (and by extension the organisation) tarnishes the reputation of European patent examiners and by extension Europe as a whole. The EPO abuses are already becoming an international embarrassment and they devalue Europe’s image as a scientific powerhouse. Even China or Russia do not have scandals of this severity or scale.

According to this post from last night, the “European Patent Office has announced the revised version of its Guidelines for Examination” and as we already know, the EPO’s management is basically racing to the bottom and even allowing patents on life these days (several more just days ago). Where does this end? This puts people’s lives at risk. And for what? For the bottom line of super-wealthy multi-national corporations?

“It’s about power, not science. It’s often about monopolies, too.”Then comes the issue of software patents, for which a loophole was created quite a while ago — one that the Enlarged Board of Appeal could not effectively thwart. Earlier this month we wrote about (or blew the lid off) Microsoft's special relationship with the EPO — a relationship that is bound to help Microsoft get some bogus software patents despite the rules being against that, whereupon Microsoft can use these patents to blackmail companies which use Linux (some are European, TomTom for example). Who does this help? Certainly not Europeans.

The EPO’s human ‘resources’ (that’s what they call educated people) department is in a very bad state right now. It reportedly lost a lot of staff, so it gets some under-qualified ‘interns’ with a very low salary and no rights (like temporary workforce). This is bound to lead to poor quality work and incorrect judgment. Does the EPO’s management even care? The EPO’s management seems to have been very busy trying to selfishly expand its scope of power to Moldova, Australia and various other places. It’s as if hand-shaking and back room deals are now viewed as a substitute for science and technology. It’s about power, not science. It’s often about monopolies, too.

“The EPO has become a political and corporate instrument of occupation against he vast majority of the public.”Watch what the EPO is doing regarding the unitary patent (UPC). The management is actively promoting this notorious thing in public, at taxpayers’ expense (the event and the resultant damage to the public). The UPC is still being ushered in by opportunistic patent lawyers who want to profit from it [1, 2], but what about the public? What about the collective interests of the overwhelming majority? This is symptomatic of class warfare and if the ruling class controls or is affiliated with EPO management, then the patent office becomes a tool of occupation, or large-scale passage of wealth.

The EPO has become a political and corporate instrument of occupation against he vast majority of the public. Can this be stopped? Well, one remaining ‘regulatory’ body remains in place, albeit Benoît Battistelli is trying hard to crush it, or push if not force it into exile. We are talking about the boards of appeal, which enjoy relative independence from the business-oriented EPO and its misguided ambitions of just increasing money flow. As long as EPO management is eager to just do anything for money (even favouritism to large clients, meaning applicants), it cannot be a public service. It is a self-serving business-like entity. It’s completely detached from its raison d’être and it gets only worse over time (indefinite pursuit of infinite power and wealth, i.e. the characteristics of a cancer).

Thankfully, for now at least, the boards of appeal serve to ‘moderate’ the EPO. Today’s case of point (potentially one of several to come) involves board 3.5.05. This board is in charge of fields G06F3 and H04L (see this table for reference), which according to the International patent classification relate, to put it roughly, to user I/O devices and data networks. This board would be typically in charge for these silly Apple or Samsung UI patents. These are, potentially, software patents by another name. The one below clearly looks like a software patent, and it is neither novel nor patent-eligible.

“It’s just a software patent, which friends of the EPO’s management probably wanted approved.”Below is one of the texts concerning a software application for monitoring healthcare facilities. It’s a software patent, but what makes it interesting is that Baxter (official site), the patent applicant, took over the Belgian company which used to manage the EPO’s health system. It’s hard to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. We wish to remind readers that Baxter is embroiled in many controversies, including tax dodging. To quote Wikipedia, Baxter was “spending $10.45 million on lobbying and not paying any taxes during 2008–2010, instead getting $66 million in tax rebates, despite making a profit of $926 million.”

This isn’t some benign or benevolent company saving people’s lives (as it really wants the public to think) but a rather selfish monopoliser with 61,500 employees and $25.9 billion in total assets (patents are infamously popular among giants of this kind). It’s not a European company; it’s based in the US, but USPTO patents are apparently not enough for them. They want protectionism in Europe too, or the ability to sue European rivals (or US rivals entering into Europe). It is, to put it quite crudely, part of a Turf War.

The preliminary opinion on the patent application was negative, and the examining division’s refusal was confirmed after oral proceedings.

One can see just how much effort this type of application involves, so the author is obviously a hard worker, as he cited many new documents in the appeal procedure.

As the board of appeal is directly involved here (not necessarily seeking to invite/welcome more such ‘business’, in the form of applications, from Baxter), this application was rightly rejected. It’s just a software patent, which friends of the EPO’s management probably wanted approved. I have personally read it twice from start to finish and I am happy to see that the board rejected the patent and fought against it. Baxter is trying to frame the software as tied to hardware, so as to exploit the loophole introduced back in the Brimelow days (software patents in Europe are only possible when one essentially tricks the examiner/s). For those who have patience, here is the full draft of the text, Dx (where x is some number) being a diagram which refers to an application to which we have no access at this stage (leaks would be appreciated).

European Patent Office
D-80298 MUNICH
Tel. +49 (0) 89 2399-0
Fax +49 (0)892399 4465

Appeal number: T1508/12-3.5.05

Communication of the Board of Appeal pursuant to Article 15(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal

The Rapporteur P. Corcoran

This document: 16 page(s) including this page


D2: GB 2 343 334 A;
D3: US 5 396 230 B;
D4: EP 0 413 963 A;
D5: US 2002/0038392;
D6: G. Held, “Network Utility Tools”, The ABCs of IP Addressing, Chapter 9, pp. 163-183, Auerbach Publications, 2001, ISBN: 978-0-8493-1144-4;
D7: A. Berg, “Applets and Network Security: A Management Overview”, Network Design: Principles and Applications (ed. G. Held), Chapter 54, pp. 719-725, Auerbach Publications, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-8493-0859-8;
D8: A. J. Vincent, “JavaScript Developer’s Dictionary”, pp.1-5, 306-307, 326-327, 334-337, Sams Publishing, 2002, ISBN: 0-672-32201-3.

Communication text

A preliminary study of the appeal has been carried out as foreseen by Article 5(3) of the Rules of Procedure of the Boards of Appeal (RPBA), OJ 11/2007, pp . 536-547.

The observations which follow are provisional in nature and are made without prejudice to the board’s final decision.

I. The Impugned Decision

1. Refusal of the application

1.1 The decision under appeal is the decision of the examining division to refuse the application. The decision was delivered during oral proceedings held on 7 February 2012 with written reasons being dispatched on 20 February 2012.

1.2 The impugned decision was taken with respect to a main request and five auxiliary requests.

1.3 The decision cites the following prior art document:
D1: US 6406426 B.

1.4 In said decision the examining division found that the subject-matter of claim 1 of the main request did not involve an inventive step in the light of D1 . With respect to the auxiliary requests, the examining division found that substantially the same arguments as to lack of patentability applied to said requests.

II. The Appellant’s Requests

2. The appellant has requested that the decision under appeal be set aside and that a patent be granted on the basis of a main request filed with the written statement setting out the grounds of appeal or subsidiarily on the basis of one of five auxiliary requests likewise filed with said written statement.

3. Oral proceedings have been requested on a precautionary basis.

4. The further documents on which the appeal is based, i.e. the text of the description and the drawings, do not appear to have been specified despite the requirement of Article 12(2) RPBA that the statement setting out the grounds of appeal shall contain the appellant’s complete case. Unless the appellant indicates otherwise, the board will proceed on the assumption that said documents correspond to those on which the impugned decision was based, viz.:
Description, pages:

1, 7-12, 14, 18, 19, 21, 23-25, 27-36, 39, 40, 42-44, 46-52, 56-59, 62, 63, 66-71, 73, 74, 76, 83, 85, 89, 92-108, 111-114, 116, 117, 120-122, 124, 125, 127 as originally filed;
3-6, 13, 15-17, 20, 22, 26, 37, 38, 41, 45, 53-55, 60, 61, 64, 65, 72, 75, 77-82, 84, 86-88, 90, 91, 109, 110, 115, 118, 119, 123, 126 filed with entry into the regional phase before the EPO;
2, 128 filed with telefax on 19 December 2008.

Drawings, Sheets:
1-59 filed with entry into the regional phase
before the EPO.

4.1 Claim 1 of the main request reads as follows: “A system for reporting on integrity of a wireless communication link within a healthcare facility comprising:
a wireless remote device within the healthcare facility having a message indicator responsive to status information transmitted over wireless communication link, the status information representative of a signal generated by a medication treatment appliance device;
wherein the message indicator comprises at least one of an audible alarm and a visual display, software installed on the wireless remote device having a time-out output,
wherein the time-out output indicates loss of the wireless communication link; and
wherein the audible alarm produces an audible sound in response to the time-out output, and/or
wherein an icon responsive to the time-out output is provided on the visual display.”

III. The Appellant’s Submissions

5. Main request

5.1 The main request was refused on the grounds of lack of inventive step in the light of D1 . The appellant contests the assessment of inventive step by the examining division.

5.2 According to the appellant, the essence of the examining division’s objection was that it would have been obvious to the skilled person to modify the healthcare system of D1 to include software on the remote devices which would indicate loss of the wireless communication link.

5.3 The examining division asserted that the skilled person would be well aware of the signal strength indicators used on cell phones, which were available at the priority date of the application, and took the view that installation on remote devices of software to check the integrity links was a “common” measure in the field of wireless communication which would solve this problem.

5.4 The appellant, however, disputes that the Examining Division properly substantiated its assertions in this regard and contests the statement in the decision to the effect that documentary evidence is not required because the generic mobile phone was so notorious.

5.5 The appellant further contests the inventive step objection on the grounds that a core teaching of D1 is that of central management of data transmission throughout the healthcare system. The appellant submits that D1 refers to the central monitoring system as being responsible for managing the transmission of data and alerts, throughout the system, including sending data to the remote devices.

5.6 According to the appellant, the text bridging columns 14 and 15 of D1 mentions that the central monitoring system periodically queries the remote devices and one result of this periodic querying is that the central monitoring system can tell if a remote device is not acknowledging receipt of data, which could be for a variety of reasons including the fact that it may be out of range. In this situation, the appellant submits that the skilled person, taking the core teaching of D1 into consideration, would follow the indications, for example at column 4 lines 8 to 18 and column 14 lines 56 to 60 of D1 which indicate that the central monitoring system would send alerts to additional caregivers until one of them acknowledged receipt.

5.7 The appellant further submits that the claimed invention provides advantages over D1 because the remote device itself alerts the caregiver to the fact that the wireless communication link has been lost. The caregiver could then take whatever remedial action is necessary to re-establish contact with the healthcare system. According to the appellant, this contrasts with D1 where the caregiver may not be aware of the fact that they were no longer in communication with the healthcare system.

B. Auxiliary requests

6. The appellant submits that the auxiliary requests are inventive over the prior art.

7. With particular respect to the fifth auxiliary request, the appellant disputes that the use of pop-up windows was not common general knowledge in this technical field at the claimed priority date (1 February 2003) and notes that the examining division did not substantiate its allegations in this regard.

IV. Preliminary Opinion of the Board

A. Introductory observations

8. Basis for the claimed subject-matter

8.1 With respect to claim 1 of the main request, the board notes that the subject-matter of said claim appears to be based on the embodiments of the invention disclosed on p. 23 1.31 to p. 25 1.2 of the application as originally filed.

8.2 Claim 1 of the main request appears to comprise a combination of features from independent claim 1 and dependent claims 9, 10 and 11 as originally filed.

9. Documents cited pursuant to Article 114(1)EPC

9.1 In the observations which follow, the following additional documents are introduced into the proceedings pursuant to Article 114(1)EPC:

D2: GB 2
343 334

D3: US 5
3 96 230

D4: EP 0
413 963

D5: US 2002/0038392;

D6: G. Held, “Network Utility Tools”, The ABCs of IP Addressing, Chapter 9, pp . 163-183, Auerbach Publications, 2001, ISBN: 978-0-8493-1144-4;

D7: A. Berg, “Applets and Network Security: A Management Overview”, Network Design: Principles and Applications (ed. G. Held), Chapter 54, pp. 719-725, Auerbach Publications, 2000, ISBN: 978-0-8493-0859-8;

D8: A. J. Vincent, “JavaScript Developer’s Dictionary”, pp . 1-5, 306-307, 326-327, 334-337,
Sams Publishing, 2002, ISBN: 0-672-32201-3.

9.2 D2, D3 and D4 are patent documents which relate to arrangements for indicating the probability of attaining successful communication between a remote device and a network and which, on this basis, appear to be of relevance to the claimed invention.

9.3 D5 is a document cited in the Search Report of the related European patent application 04 706 992.7 which appears to be of relevance with respect to the subject matter of the first auxiliary request.

9.4 D6, D7 and D8 are textbook extracts cited as evidence of common general knowledge which appears to be of relevance to the subject matter of the auxiliary requests.

B. Main request

10. Observations re D1

10.1 The appellant has referred to the text bridging columns 14 and 15 of D1 which mentions that the central monitoring system periodically queries the remote devices as a result of which the central monitoring system can tell if a remote device is not acknowledging receipt of data, which could be for a variety of reasons including the fact that it may be out of range. On this basis, the appellant submits that the skilled person would follow the indications of D1, e.g. at column 4 lines 8 to 18 and column 14 lines 56 to 60, which indicate that the central monitoring system would send alerts to additional caregivers until receipt is acknowledged.

10.2 The passage of D1 cited by the appellant appears to relate to aspects of the messaging functionality provided by the system of D1 according to which a central server may check whether messages have been correctly delivered to remote devices and, if not, determine an alternative delivery destination, e.g. a remote device associated with another clinician.

10.3 The aforementioned functionality of D1 appears to be substantially the same as that disclosed in the present application in relation to the transmission of notifications and messages (cf. originally filed application: section entitled “Messaging & Notifications, Including Alarm/Alert Notifications”, p. 84 1.17 et seq.). In particular, according to the embodiment disclosed on p. 88 1.9 to p. 89 1.8, alerts can be escalated by means of transmission to additional caregivers if a remote device is not acknowledging receipt of data, for example due to being out of range.

10.4 Claim 1, however, is essentially concerned with the provision of specific functionality on the client, i.e. the remote device, rather than the central server such that the user of the remote device can be informed if the wireless communication link between the device and the network is not operational. Insofar as D1 does not appear to disclose the provision of such functionality on the client devices, the claimed invention can be considered novel over D1.

11. Inventive step

11.1 The technical problem addressed by providing the aforementioned functionality on the client device is that of how to adapt the client device such that the user of the remote device can tell whether the wireless communication link between the device and the network is operational.

11.2 In the impugned decision, the examining division referred to the allegedly notorious installation on remote devices of software to check the integrity links in the field of wireless communication as exemplified by coverage indicators on mobile phones. Although the examining division did not provide any documentary evidence to support this assertion, the board is of the opinion that such functionality was indeed generally known at the claimed priority date as evidenced, for example, by D2 (cf. D2 : p.1 1.13-27).

11.3 The board is at present inclined to the view that the skilled person would have recognised the underlying technical problem on the basis of his general knowledge relating to mobile terminals and that he would have been prompted to modify the mobile terminal of D1 to include means for indicating the probability of attaining successful communication with the network.

11.4 More particularly, the board notes that the problem of providing such functionality in the context of remote devices used in wireless paging systems was known per se as evidenced by D3 and D4 . Particular reference is made to the following passages of said documents: D3: Abstract; col.1 1.6-30; col.2 1.58 – col.5 1.35. D4: Abstract; col. 1 1.3-18; col. 4 1.45 – col.13 1.3.

11.5 Having regard to the disclosure of D1 to the effect that the mobile terminal devices may inter alia be paging devices (cf. D1: col.4 1.8-22; col.9 1.16-33; col.11 1.11-19), the board is of the opinion that the skilled person would not require the exercise of inventive skill to combine the teaching of D1 with that of D3 or D4.

11.6 In view of the foregoing the board, is of the preliminary opinion that the provision of the aforementioned functionality on the client devices of D1, viz. means to indicate the probability of attaining successful communication with the network, would not require the exercise of inventive skill.

C. Auxiliary requests

12. First auxiliary request

12.1 Claim 1 of the first auxiliary request further specifies that the signal output generated by the medication device is a notification which comprises data relating to at least one of an alarm condition, an alert condition, an infusion volume rate and a time remaining before and infusion bag is emptied.

12.2 This additional specification appears to based on the embodiments disclosed on p. 27 1.32 – p. 28 1.21 of the originally filed application.

12.3 The board notes that said additional specification appears to relate primarily to the cognitive information context of the notification transmitted to the remote device and it is therefore questionable as to whether this additional specification makes any technical contribution to the claimed subject-matter.

12.4 To the extent that the additional specification provides any technical contribution, it would not appear to address the same technical problem underlying claim 1 of the main request but rather a further independent partial problem.

12.5 It is further noted in this regard that D1 appears to disclose the transmission of notifications relating to infusion pumps, (cf. for example D1: text bridging cols. 6 and 7; col.7 1.27-31) and similar subject-matter relating to the transmission of infusion pump notifications is likewise disclosed in D5 (cf. D5: in particular [0283] to [0323]).

12.6 In the given context, the additional feature of claim 1 of the first auxiliary request does not appear to make a non-obvious technical contribution to the claimed subject-matter.

13. Second auxiliary request

13.1 Claim 1 of the second auxiliary request additionally specifies that the medical treatment application device is a controller for an infusion pump.

13.2 Referring to the observations made above in relation to claim 1 of the preceding request, the specification of the medical treatment application device as a controller for an infusion pump appears to address a further independent partial problem.

13.3 Moreover, the choice of a controller for an infusion pump as the medical treatment application device appears to be disclosed or at least suggested by D1 (cf. for example D1: text bridging cols. 6 and 7; col.7 1.27-31). Reference is also made to the disclosure of D5 cf. observations under 12.6 above).

13.4 In the given context, the additional feature of claim 1 of the second auxiliary request does not appear to make a non-obvious technical contribution to the claimed subject-matter.

14. Third auxiliary request

14.1 Claim 1 of the third auxiliary request additionally specifies that loss of the wireless communication link is determined by periodic polling of the wireless communication link. This additional feature appears to be based on p. 24 1.1-9 of the originally found application which discloses a script that tests the integrity of the communication link by periodically polling, or monitoring communication, including notifications and messaging, from the central system or the access point.

14.2 The board notes in this regard that the checking of the communication link at pre-defined time intervals as disclosed in D3 and D4 would appear to be substantially similar to a form of “polling”.

14.3 Insofar as the appellant may succeed in establishing that D3 and D4 do not disclose a form of “polling”, the board further notes that utilities to check the availability of a remote network host were generally known per se at the claimed priority date. Particular reference is made in this regard to the generally known “ping” utility which can be invoked to determine the availability of a remote server or host and thus to determine the availability of the path to the destination. In support of this assertion, reference is made to D6 (cf. D6: in particular, p. 163 and 168).

14.4 Whereas the appellant has apparently argued to the effect that D1 teaches that the central monitoring system is solely responsible for managing the transmission of data and alerts throughout the system, including sending data to the remote devices, it is noted that column 4 lines 8 to 22 of D1 discloses that the remote access devices communicate bi-directionally with the central monitoring system. In the context of such bilateral communication, the use of a technique such as the aforementioned “ping” utility by a client device to determine the availability of the server would not appear to require the exercise of inventive skill.

14.5 In the given context, the additional feature of claim 1 of the third auxiliary request does not appear to make a non-obvious technical contribution to the claimed subject – matter.

14.6 The board further notes in this regard that the application as originally filed appears to disclose said “polling” as merely one of a number of possible design options freely available to the skilled person. The application does not appear to provide any further technical teaching with regard to how exactly said polling is to be implemented in technical terms nor is there any apparent disclosure of what particular technical advantages it is alleged to provide over other known methods for testing the communication link.

14.7 To the extent that the appellant disputes that the feature under discussion represents more than a mere design choice falling within the routine competence of the skilled person, the board notes that it may be necessary to give consideration to the question of sufficiency of disclosure under Article 83 and Rule 42(1)(e) EPC. Should this question require consideration the onus will be on the appellant to establish that the aforementioned feature has been sufficiently disclosed in the originally filed application documents.

15. Fourth auxiliary request

15.1 Claim 1 of the fourth auxiliary request additionally specifies that the software comprises a script automatically downloaded from the server to the wireless remote device.

15.2 This additional feature appears to be based on the embodiment of p. 23 1.34 – p. 24 1.1 and essentially relates to the form in which the software module or application is implemented, i.e. as a downloadable script. In this regard, the board notes that said feature appears to address a further independent partial problem, viz. how to implement the software module or application.

15.3 The proposed form for implementing said software module or application appears to be generally known and, in the board’s opinion, does not involve more than the application of conventional programming techniques. In support of the this assertion, reference is made to D7 which discloses relevant subject-matter relating to scripting techniques for providing programs (“applets”) that can be downloaded from a server for execution on a client device (cf. D7: in particular, p. 719).

15.4 In the given context, the additional feature of claim 1 of the fourth auxiliary request does not appear to make a non-obvious technical contribution to the claimed subject – matter.

16. Fifth auxiliary request

16.1 Claim 1 of the fifth auxiliary request additionally specifies that a pop-up window is provided on the visual display in response to the time-out output.

16.2 This additional feature group appears to be based on the embodiment disclosed on p. 24 1.9-12 of the originally filed application.

16.3 In this regard, the board notes that the use of pop-up windows appears to have been generally known at the claimed priority date as asserted by the examining division in the impugned decision. In view of the fact that the appellant has disputed the assertions made by the examining division in this regard, the board considers it appropriate to make reference to the textbook extract D8 which discloses the use of pop-up windows in the context of a known scripting language, i.e. JavaScript (cf. in particular D8 : “alert()” on pp. 306-307; “prompt()” on pp. 326-327; and entry relating to dialog windows on pp. 334-336).

16.4 In the given context, the additional feature of claim 1 of the fifth auxiliary request does not appear to make a non-obvious technical contribution to the claimed subject-matter.

17. In view of the foregoing, the board is not at present inclined to accept that the additional features specified in the independent claims of the auxiliary requests involve the exercise of inventive skill.

V. Concluding Remarks

18. Oral proceedings

18.1 During oral proceedings the board intends to focus the discussion on the question of compliance with the inventive step requirement of Article 52(1) EPC, in particular having regard to the observations set forth above (cf. in particular, items 10 to 17 above).

19. Amendments to the appellant’s case

19.1 Any further written submissions which the appellant may wish to make should be filed at the latest one month before the appointed date for oral proceedings.

19.2 The appellant’s attention is drawn to Article 13 RPBA, relating to amendments to a party’s case. The board has discretion not to admit amendments based on a variety of considerations, including the imminence of oral proceedings. In particular, amendments sought to be made after oral proceedings have been arranged shall not be admitted if they raise issues which the board cannot reasonably be expected to deal with without adjournment of the proceedings.

Where amendments to the appellant’s case are filed it will be necessary to discuss their admissibility and their compliance with the EPC, including Articles 123(2), 84 and 52(1). In the light of Article 15(3) RPBA, the board may consider these issues and announce a decision based on new objections arising from such newly submitted amendments even if the appellant chooses not to attend the scheduled oral proceedings.

Stay tuned as we have plenty more to come.

Links 27/10/2015: Tanglu 4.0, Simplicity Linux 15.10

Posted in News Roundup at 8:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



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      • X.Org Server 1.18 RC2 “Amontillado” Released
      • NVIDIA GPU Offloading Support For GCC Is Still Up & Coming

        It’s been nearly two years that there’s been work going on for OpenACC 2.0 with GPU offloading for GCC, primarily geared for NVIDIA GPUs. That work continues taking shape and hopefully for GCC 6 the support will be in better standing.

      • Is Upgrading To Mesa 11.1-devel Worthwhile For Radeon R600g Users?

        With last week’s release of Ubuntu 15.10, Mesa 11.0 is part of the open-source graphics stack. Unfortunate for those with an AMD GCN GPU that uses the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver, Mesa 11.0 on Ubuntu 15.10 is built against an older version of LLVM that doesn’t allow the OpenGL 4.1 support to be exposed. For RadeonSI users, I’d say switching to Mesa 11.1-devel + LLVM 3.8 SVN is almost a must once installing Ubuntu 15.10, but is it worthwhile for R600g users?

    • Benchmarks

      • 4K AMD/NVIDIA High-End GPU Comparison On SteamOS Linux

        Continuing on from Friday’s article that was a 22-way comparison of AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards on SteamOS for Steam Linux gaming, which tested the hardware at the common TV resolution of 1080p, here are results for the higher-end Radeon and GeForce graphics cards at 4K.

        This article is structured quite similarly to Friday’s article but rather than testing at 1080p, the Steam Linux game tests were at 4K (3840 x 2160). Due to the increased resolution, not all twenty-two graphics cards were used for this article but only the higher-end AMD and NVIDIA GPUs.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Cinnamon 2.8 and MATE 1.12 to Arrive In a Few Days, Says Clement Lefebvre

      Clement Lefebvre, the leader and maintainer of the popular Linux Mint operating system, as well as the Cinnamon and MATE desktop environments, sent his monthly report about the work done by the entire team.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • First Beta release of KDevelop 5.0.0 available

        We spent a lot of effort on keeping the porting bugs to a minimum, and our thanks go out to the many testers who have guided us in the process. Porting to KF5 and Qt 5 also cut down our dependencies, bringing us closer to a proper KDevelop on Windows and KDevelop on Mac OS X. If you want to see KDevelop 5 become a reality on these platforms, then please get in touch with us and help us iron out the last issues.

      • KDE e.V. Quarterly Report – 2014Q4

        The KDE e.V. report for the fourth quarter of 2014 is available (PDF). It features a compendium of all the activities and events carried out, supported and funded by KDE e.V. in that period, as well as the reporting of major events, conferences and mentoring programs that KDE has been involved in.

      • Add an “Archive” button in KMail

        I love the “archive” button in Thunderbird (which was adopted from GMail, I think…) and (so far) am enjoying KMail. However, I was missing the “read it, don’t need to do anything further with this email – so put it in my 2015 folder.”

      • Interview with Laura

        My name is Laura, and I currently live in Calgary, Alberta. Aside from 2D art, I model/sculpt with Blender, Maya, and ZBrush. I enjoy running and board sports, and I love science and cats!

      • My Wishion for KDE – Part 1 – Now

        KDE is mostly about people. We are a huge project with an almost 20 years old history. We’ve great infrastructure and values (Manifesto) and our software is targeted towards end-users and normal people. But do we really succeed and achieve what we want? Are there problems and what are they?

      • KDevelop 5.0 Open Source IDE Enters Beta, Ported to Qt 5 and KDE Frameworks 5

        After more than a year of hard work, Milian Wolff from the KDevelop project has had the great pleasure of announcing the immediate availability for download and testing of the first Beta build of KDevelop 5.0.0.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GeoJSON in Maps

        For Maps 3.19.1 release we managed to land some support for showing a GeoJSON layer. This means that you can get a GeoJSON file from somewhere then open it with Maps.

  • Distributions

    • Learning Linux – Lesson Three: GNU/Linux Distributions

      While in the first lesson of our Learning Linux series you learned the basics of Linux and the difference between a GNU/Linux operating system and the Linux kernel, in the second one you found out how GNU/Linux OS works.

    • Happy Distrovus: 3 big Linux Distros released in 8 days

      Five days! We have just five tiny little days to fully feast upon Ubuntu 15.10 before we need to make room in our lives to take Fedora 23 for a full spin. Which, based on my testing of an earlier beta build, tells me that this is going to be a release worth paying some attention to.

      But those five days seem like an eternity compared to the mere THREE DAYS between the release of Fedora 23 and the Gold Master version of openSUSE Leap 42.1 on October 30th. Another gigantic release that is worthy of our attention.

    • Happy Distrovus, Kissing Kubuntu Kousins

      Today in Linux news, Brian Lunduke declared a new holiday to celebrate the autumn distribution release season. UnixMan Chris Jones reviewed Fedora 23 already, due for release November 3, and Jesse Smith reported on GhostBSD 10.1 in today’s Distrowatch Weekly. Bruce Byfield is still grumbling about his failed Debian upgrade and Canonical issued a statement today on their relationship with Kubuntu.

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots/Screencasts

    • Arch Family

    • Red Hat Family

      • Singapore’s First Liberal Arts College Taps Red Hat and Dell for OpenStack-based Software-defined Datacenter

        Yale-NUS College was established in 2011 as a collaboration between Yale University and the National University of Singapore (NUS) to provide a new model for liberal arts colleges in Asia.

      • Dualtec Cloud Builders Selects Red Hat to Deploy Brazil’s First OpenStack-based Cloud
      • SF Hosts AnsibleFest Nov. 19

        First, Red Hat acquires Ansible two weeks ago, which is both no small feat and a coup for the folks in Raleigh. The acquisition was a smart, yet expected, move: It marries Ansible’s ease of automation to the wide portfolio of Red Hat clientele, driving down the cost and complexity of deploying and managing both cloud-native and traditional applications across hybrid cloud environments. In short, by writing a check, Red Hat expanded its leadership in hybrid cloud management.

      • Open source software’s implications beyond software

        Jim Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, was sporting his awesome red shoes as he spoke to a crowded room at All Things Open last week. During his keynote on Day 1, he talked about how open source is a key part of the open organization, but what we’re all looking to achieve has implications far beyond software.

        Jim began his keynote by explaining why there is a need for the principles of open source in business. If we think of the world we come from and the world we are coming into we see that there is a long line of change. We have come from a world of mass manufacturing, where relatively uneducated people were typically doing rote tasks on assembly lines in a static environment where there was little sharing of information. Society has based a lot of our structure of managing businesses on this model, but if we think about how we live and work today things are much different.

      • Insider Selling: Red Hat CEO Sells $303,592.50 in Stock (RHT)

        Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) CEO James M. Whitehurst sold 3,930 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Monday, October 19th. The shares were sold at an average price of $77.25, for a total value of $303,592.50. Following the sale, the chief executive officer now directly owns 372,478 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $28,773,925.50. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the SEC, which is available through this link.

      • FICO Chooses Red Hat to Deploy OpenStack, Management, and Storage Solutions for Agile Cloud Infrastructure

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that FICO, the predictive analytics and decision management software company, has deployed Red Hat software, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux OpenStack Platform, Red Hat CloudForms, and Red Hat Ceph Storage, as the basis of its cloud infrastructure. Moving to an OpenStack and Ceph-based cloud has not only helped FICO reduce time to market by 50 percent and lower costs by 30 percent compared to previous infrastructure implementations, but it has helped transform FICO into a Software-as-Service (SaaS) company, driving added sales to new and existing customers in expanded markets.

      • Fedora

        • Mark command usecase

          In the early days of DNF development, the original members of the team decided that the cool feature called clean_requirements_on_remove should have been enabled by default . This is exactly that feature of DNF which prevents your system from overblooting by installed, but no longer needed dependencies of packages.

        • Year of the Linux Desktop: Flock 2015 Summary

          Flock to Fedora 2015 was a conference full of incredible people with incredible ideas, and it was a tough decision to decide which sessions to attend of all the good options. One that caught my eye was the “When is the year of the Linux desktop?” talk by Red Hat software engineering intern Levente Kurusa. Some of the key talking points of his session were evaluating why this statement always seems to be “next year” and why this awesome idea never seems to gain much ground. Are we doing something wrong? Can we improve somewhere? All of this, and more, Levente aimed to cover in his talk. I was fortunate enough to be in attendance of this talk!

        • Fedora – A peek into IRC meetings using meetbot data

          fedmsg has a few meetbot-related topics corresponding to meetbot commands using which I gather daily,weekly and monthly IRC meeting data. You can construct queries for a time period by specifying by the start and end parameters for the query.Use count variable from JSON data dump to get total number of messages pertaining to our query. (Check out the meetbot-related fedmsg topics here and documentation for constructing queries for Datagrepper here ). You can also use Datagrepper Charts API for some basic visualizations. (Check it out here).

        • Getting started with Fedora

          In this post I would like to tell you about the process of creation of a book cover. Some time ago Jiří Eischmann had an idea of creating a user guide for potential new Fedora users.

        • DNF 1.1.3 and DNF-PLUGINS-CORE 0.1.13 Released

          New release of DNF stack (dnf, dnf-plugins-core, dnf-plugins-extras, hawkey and libsolv) is going to Fedora 21, 22, 23 and rawhide. Most of the fixes happened under the hood in DNF libraries. The emphasis was on stability and making smooth system upgrades. For more information take a look at release notes.

        • Globalization test days report for Fedora 23

          Each Fedora release, developers add interesting features and changes. The Fedora QA group puts in extra effort to make sure these features work well. The Fedora QA group runs test days, together with our development teams. Test days usually happen between Alpha and Beta test releases. These events are essential to help us find critical flaws.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Installer Stretch Alpha 4 Drops The CD Sets

        The Debian Installer Stretch Alpha 4 release has various hardware support improvements, accessibility support by default is now enabled for GTK2 applications and improved for Qt4/Qt5 applications, and various other changes took place.

      • Debian 9 “Stretch” Installer Alpha 4 Drops Support for CDs, Adds Improvements

        The Debian Project, through Cyril Brulebois, announced the release and immediate availability for download and testing of the fourth Alpha build of the Debian GNU/Linux 9.0 “Stretch” installer.

      • Derivatives

        • SteamOS Switches To Linux 4.1, Latest Graphics Drivers

          SteamOS Brewmaster now has the Linux 4.1 kernel, which is a big upgrade over their earlier Linux 3.18 kernel. SteamOS Brewmaster also switches to using the Catalyst 15.9 proprietary graphics driver and has upgraded the NVIDIA binary blob too.

        • Major SteamOS Update Brings Linux Kernel 4.1, Updates Nvidia and AMD Drivers

          Valve announced a few minutes ago that the Brewmaster branch of their Debian-based SteamOS Linux operating system received a major update, version 2.49, that was pushed to the Beta channel.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Avengers Is an Excellent Resource for Users Who Want to Report Ubuntu Touch Bugs

            If you’re one of the thousands of Ubuntu Phone users, and you have encountered a bug that needs reporting, you might want to check out this excellent Wiki page that directs users to the proper channels for most of the components of the operating system.

          • Ubuntu 15.10 offers new UI and enhanced developer tools

            Ubuntu 15.10 has been revealed, with a new UI and re-fashioned developer tools, including the ability to preview apps with a converged phone, desktop and tablet experience.

            For Ubuntu Phone users, the update will be automatically rolled out, apparently demonstrating the platform’s “famous flow of updates to this new ecosystem.”

          • Ubuntu MATE Tools Could Bring Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and Ubuntu Server to Raspberry Pi 2

            Ubuntu MATE developers have been working on some tools that allowed them to build the distribution for the Raspberry Pi 2 platform, and they are looking to share those tools and to name them so that other projects can use them, like Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

          • Mycroft AI on Ubuntu’s Unity 8 Hits a Bump in the Road the Size of Python 3

            The Mycroft AI home automation solution that managed to gather enough funds on Kickstarter just a few months ago also promised an Ubuntu implementation of its Mycroft AI. It looks like those plans have hit a bump in the road for Unity 8.

          • Canonical Promises Easy, Secure Containerized Apps for Ubuntu with LXD

            Turn on, tune in, drop out—without Docker! That—or, uh, something like it—is the container management experience Canonical hopes to deliver by bundling LXD, the open source containerized app framework, into the latest version of Ubuntu Linux, 15.10, which was released a few days ago.

          • Kubuntu and Ubuntu Councils Issue Joint Statement

            A joint statement from the Kubuntu Council and the Ubuntu Council has been published today in an attempt to alleviate the questions raised after the departure of the Kubuntu release manager, Jonathan Riddell.

          • The Ubuntu-Powered Erle-Spider Drone Now Available for Sale

            The Erle-Spider drone that’s powered by Ubuntu and based on ROS, the Robot Operating System, is now available for purchase, outside of the previous crowdfunding campaign.

          • Superb Ubuntu MATE Gold Edition Proposed by User – Video

            An Ubuntu MATE user put together a “Gold Edition” of the distribution and made some propositions for the leader of the project, Martin Wimpress. As it turns out, he’s going to make some of those things happen.

          • Ubuntu 15.10 offers new UI and enhanced developer tools

            Ubuntu 15.10 has been revealed, with a new UI and re-fashioned developer tools, including the ability to preview apps with a converged phone, desktop and tablet experience.

            For Ubuntu Phone users, the update will be automatically rolled out, apparently demonstrating the platform’s “famous flow of updates to this new ecosystem.”

          • Is Ubuntu 15.10 a Fearless Werewolf or a Boring One?

            I believe that every Linux and Ubuntu user out there knows that Ubuntu 15.10 (codename Wily Werewolf) has been released, and it aims to become a better replacement for the previous version, Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet).

          • Unleashing the Werewolf

            Upgrading from Vivid to the latest version using the Update Manager was smooth and painless and took about two hours. The time required may vary depending on the speed of your Internet connection. When my PC rebooted after the upgrade, the only hint that I was using a new operating system was a watermark at the bottom of the startup screen. Then, I was taken back to the comfortable familiarity of my customized XFCE desktop so that I could resume where I had left off.

          • Here are the 9 New Ubuntu 15.10 Features You Should Know

            The stable edition of Ubuntu 15.10 wily werewolf is just released by canonical few days a ago and it now available to download and install on your computer. Lets take a look at the features that are implemented in the new release of ubuntu 15.10 and see what important packages have been updated.

          • System76 Users Can Now Upgrade to Ubuntu 15.10, Here’s How

            System76, the American hardware company behind those Ubuntu-powered laptops and desktop computers, announced earlier today, October 26, that all of their users can now upgrade to the recently released Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) operating system.

          • Ubuntu Linux Demonstrates New Cloud Application Store

            Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth announced new cloud application store capabilities at the OpenStack Tokyo Summit.

            TOKYO—In the OpenStack world, no operating system is more widely deployed than Ubuntu Linux. It’s a fact that Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu Linux, emphasized during a presentation at the OpenStack Summit here, while detailing new features that he hopes will further extend his lead.

          • Snappy Ubuntu Core 15.04 Receives Basic Support for Store Channels, More

            On October 26, Canonical’s Michael Vogt was happy to announce the release and immediate availability for download of the ninth maintenance update of the Snappy Ubuntu Core 15.04 operating system.

          • Massive Unity 8 Convergence Goodness Now Available for All Ubuntu Phone Users
          • Ubuntu Touch with a Mouse Cursor Is Interesting and Cool at the Same Time
          • Ubuntu 15.10 Review: Less Exciting & Largely Unchanged

            From a technological point of view, according to the release notes, a lot of efforts have been made to smoothen the transition from the Upstart (init daemon — a core utility that manages boot-up services & applications that work in the background called ‘daemons’) to Systemd which was first initiated with the Ubuntu 15.04 release. There’s also a technological preview of the upcoming Unity 8 desktop as well. Previously it was also mentioned that ‘TLP’ (a handy power usage optimizer) will also be shipped by default, but it has not made its way to this release due to unknown reasons.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Simplicity Linux 15.10 is now available to download!

              We are very pleased to announce the release of Simplicity Linux 15.10. Due to some issues users were finding with the 64 bit edition of Simplicity 15.7, we’ve decided to put our 64 bit releases on hiatus until we can resolve the issue.

              The two 32 bit bit editions of Simplicity 15.10 both feature the 4.1.1 Linux kernel and are based on the excellent LXPup. LXDE is used as the desktop, and wbar is used as a dock for preinstalled software and features.

              Netbook is our lightweight edition, which comes with fewer local apps and more cloud based applications. It’s a good starting point for anyone who might feel intimidated by Linux or people with older hardware.

            • Kubuntu 15.10 Gaming Impact With KDE Plasma 5 Compositing For R600 Gallium3D

              As mentioned in yesterday’s article with KDE Plasma 5 generally leading to a slower gaming experience than GNOME, Xfce, LXDE, and MATE, the issue comes down to KDE continuing to composite full-screen windows by default. This leads to a performance penalty as has been explained and tested in many articles before on Phoronix. For making things fair, it was a performance comparison of these Fedora 23 desktop environments out-of-the-box as representative what a new user would encounter and making the assumption the software vendor makes the best decisions regarding defaults. However, in the comments to yesterday’s article were several requests for running some fresh tests to show the impact of the full-screen window compositing versus when the compositing is suspended.

            • Simplicity Linux 15.10 Officially Released, Rebased on Linux Kernel 4.1.1 LTS

              The developers of the Simplicity Linux distribution have had the great pleasure of announcing the immediate availability for download of the final release of Simplicity Linux 15.10.

            • Joint statement: Kubuntu Council + Community Council

              Members of both the Kubuntu and Community Councils have been approached by community members and asked what the relationship is between the each other. Both councils would like to confirm that the relationship is strong, and mechanisms are in place to ensure a healthy and open relationship between both councils. We would all like to point out that both councils collaborated and resolved any tensions together. We are all part of this one Ubuntu community, many of us have known each other for years and we all believe that everyone’s contributions are important, no matter which part of the project they ultimately land in. The two council are actively working on a number of concrete issues together and have decided to increase the frequency of meetings to better track progress.

            • Ubuntu Community Council + Kubuntu Issue Joint Statement
  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • San Francisco could lead on open source voting

    Open source voting systems offer increased transparency by using nonproprietary software open to the public to review the source code, which counts the ballots and issues election results. Supporters say open source voting is needed to safeguard against election tampering.

  • An Experiment In Reviving Dead Open Source Projects

    Earlier this week I did a keynote at All Things Open. While the topic covered the opportunity of us building effective community collaboration and speeding up the development of Open Source and innovation, I also touched on some of the challenges.

    One of these challenges is sustainability. There are too many great Open Source projects out there that are dead.

    My view, although some may consider it rather romantic, is that there is a good maintainer out there for the vast majority of these projects, but the project and the new maintainer just haven’t met yet. So, this got me thinking…I wonder if this theory is actually true, and if it is, how do we connect these people and projects together?

    While on the flight home I started thinking of what this could look like. I then had an idea of how this could work and I have written a little code to play with it. This is almost certainly the wrong solution to this problem, but I figured it could be an interesting start to a wider discussion for how we solve the issue of dead projects.

  • Open source code isn’t a warranty

    So where does open source fit into this? Accidental bugs, sometimes significant, will continue to exist whether or not the source code is open. Heartbleed, ShellShock, and many other high-profile vulnerabilities in open source software tell us this is the case. Intentional misbehavior would become riskier in the open, but openness is only helpful to the degree we have some way of validating that the source code that has been provided is what’s actually running. This becomes increasingly important as cars become open systems, connected to our phones and to mobile Internet services.

  • LinkedIn open-sources PalDB, a key-value store for handling ‘side data’

    LinkedIn today announced that it is releasing a new key-value store — which is a category of database — under an open-source license. The software, which goes by the name PalDB, was designed to store what LinkedIn calls “side data” — essentially, data that’s needed for a certain very small piece of an entire application.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla props up its Open Source projects

        Open saucy browser maker Mozilla is spending a million dollars to make sure that the projects, upon which the company depends on do not collapse.

        One of the problems of Open Sauce software is that projects get dumped because they cannot find enough developers interested in maintaining them, or the money to keep them active. This is a problem for a big organisation like Mozilla which needs some projects to be kept going at all costs.

      • Mozilla Open Source Support Program

        The Mozilla Foundation has launched the Mozilla Open Source Support program with an initial allocation of $1million which will be shared between up to 10 projects that Mozilla relies on.

      • Mozilla pledges $1M in funds to open-source projects

        The Mozilla Foundation, the organisation behind open-source projects Firefox, Thunderbird, and others, has announced an initiative to give back to projects on which its own creations rely – and is beginning with an impressive $1 million in funding.

      • Mozilla Launches $1M Program for Open Source/Free Software Projects
  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • Attunity Expands Big Data Management Platform to Support PostgeSQL

      Attunity Ltd., a provider of data management software solutions, has introduced the latest version of its data replication and loading solution. Designed to accelerate enterprise big data analytics initiatives, Attunity Replicate 5.0 automates big data movement to, from and between databases, data warehouses, Hadoop and the cloud, reducing the time and labor, and ultimately the cost of making big data analytics available in real time.

  • CMS

  • Business

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 10.1: Ghost in the machine

      I like the GhostBSD project and its goal. I think, in the past, there has generally not been enough work done to make FreeBSD a good operating system for desktop use. FreeBSD works well in the role of a server operating system, it’s stable, fast and the project evolves in such a way that it is fairly easy to upgrade a FreeBSD system over time. However, FreeBSD (while it can be used as a desktop operating system) lacks many of the characteristics one might want on the desktop, such as a graphical installer, multimedia support, a graphical package manager and an attractive, pre-configured desktop environment. While these features can be added or enabled on FreeBSD, most users will want those tools to be in place and to just work right from the start.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Licensing

    • LLVM Developers Discuss Relicensing Code To Apache License

      However, shifting the license would break compatibility with the GPLv2 and could make this compiler less interesting to the BSD developers from contributing. LLVM Founder Chris Lattner issued the request for comments over possibly changing the license. The current licensing situation is also problematic for not being able to easily move code from LLVM to their Compiler-RT sub-project, since that’s licensed under both the UIUC and MIT licenses.


  • Hardware

    • Infrastructure Should Enable Not Block Business

      In the modern world, companies are decreasing their investment in commodities, whether it be software, hardware, or infrastructure. Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation explained in an interview. “Organizations have discovered that they want to shed what is essentially commodity R&D and software development that isn’t core to their customers and build all of that software in open source. The reason is there is simply too much software to be written for any single organization to do it themselves.”

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Has No Choice but to Coexist with Iran, CIA Director Said in 2007

      Iran “will be a major player on the world stage in the decades ahead” and the US has no choice but to “find a way to coexist” with the Islamic Republic, said CIA Director John Brennan in 2007, the WikiLeaks has revealed.

      According to a new revelation which the WikiLeaks posted Wednesday on its Twitter account, the organization claimed it had obtained a new document from an email account belonging to Brennan.

    • Washington Accuses Putin. Russian Airstrikes are Targeting “Our Guys” in Syria: CIA Operatives, Military Advisers, Mercenaries, Special Forces, … Instead of ISIS Terrorists

      The “Our Guys” category (“fighting for their lives”) not only includes bona fide “moderate terrorists” trained by the Western military alliance, it also includes countless Western military advisers, intelligence agents and mercenaries (often recruited by private security companies) operating on the ground inside Syria since March 2011.

    • US special forces and the CIA are using drones against al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria and Iraq

      The drone strikes – separate from the large air campaign run by U.S. Central Command – have significantly diminished the threat from the Khorasan Group, an al-Qaida cell in Syria that had planned attacks on American aviation, officials say.

    • Old hurdles and new haunt the Sept. 11 case at Guantanamo

      Colleen Kelly came to Guantanamo Bay with a sense of impatience, dismayed at the U.S. military’s floundering effort to try five detainees charged with roles in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

    • No mission creep: US troops wear ‘sneakers not boots’ on the ground in Iraq

      It is recognized that besides 35,000 US troops on the ground in Iraq, there are an unknown number of other Special Forces and CIA forces on the ground, says Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism Project at IPS, Washington DC.

    • The New York Times Debunks Conservative Media’s “Vigilant Citizen” Concealed Carry Myth

      The New York Times editorial board debunked the prevalent conservative media myth that a “vigilant citizen packing a legally permitted concealed weapon” might “stop the next mass shooter.” To the contrary, the October 26 editorial cites a recent finding that individuals with concealed carry permits committed 579 shootings since 2007, claiming at least 763 lives, noting “the vast majority of these concealed-carry, licensed shooters killed themselves or others rather than taking down a perpetrator.”

    • Did Times Underplay Drone Program Leak?

      Using a cache of material from an intelligence source that some are calling a “new Snowden,” the start-up national security news site called The Intercept earlier this month published an ambitious investigative project, “The Drone Papers.”

      It exposes details about the inner workings of the American drone program, describing a bureaucratic “kill chain” that leads to the president. It also describes the shocking extent to which drones kill people who were not the intended targets in Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. (According to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the individuals killed in one five month period during an operation in Afghanistan were unintended targets.)

      The “Drone Papers” have been covered by many outlets around the world and in the United States since its publication. Among those that published stories on the project were NPR, CNN, PBS NewsHour, Newsweek, The Guardian and Quartz. The series was excerpted in the Huffington Post, which also ran a related story on the source.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • ​Climate Change Is Already Costing Us Billions of Dollars Every Year

      Climate change has already begun to cost us, and it’s only going to get worse.

      Hurricanes, intensified in size and frequency by climate change, are taking a massive financial toll already, according to a new paper. The study, published in Nature Geoscience this week, found that an increase in property dollar amounts lost over the past several decades in a case study was due to hurricanes intensified by global warming.

      Conducted by researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma in Mexico and VU University in the Netherlands, the researched used statistical models to estimate the economic losses from storms from 1900 to 2005, taking into account societal change and wealth gains over the years. The findings suggest that between 2 and 12 percent of losses during the year 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, could be attributed to global warming.

  • Privacy

    • Silicon Valley’s opposition to cybersecurity bill mounts as US Senate prepares to vote

      Which matters more to you: curbing the onslaught of daily cyberattacks or protecting your online privacy?

      That will be the crux of the debate Tuesday as the US Senate prepares to vote on the latest version of a controversial cybersecurity bill.

      The aim of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) seems straightforward. The bill’s backers say it will create a system that lets companies share evidence of hackers’ footprints with one another and the US government, without the risk of being sued for breaking privacy-protection or antitrust laws.

    • Advertisers Should Take Responsibility for Annoying People and Driving Them to Use Ad Blockers

      The Interactive Advertising Bureau issued a remarkable mea culpa last week about the state of online advertising. In response to the rise of ad-blocking software, IAB VP Scott Cunningham said digital advertisers should take responsibility for annoying people and driving them to use ad blockers…

    • DOJ Claims Apple Should Be Forced To Decrypt iPhones Because Apple, Not Customers, ‘Own’ iOS

      The DOJ has filed its response to Apple’s claims that unlocking an iPhone 5 would be unduly burdensome. This ongoing dispute over an All Writs Act order (the act itself dates back to 1789) is also an ongoing dispute over the use of encryption-by-default on Apple phones running iOS 8 or higher.

      The argument started with one of the founding members of the “Magistrates’ Revolt” — Judge James Orenstein — who, back in 2005, challenged another All Writs order by the DOJ. A decade ago, Orenstein pointed out that the government’s use of these particular orders circumvented both the judicial system (by granting it powers Congress hadn’t) and the legislative system (which hadn’t created statutes specifically authorizing the actions the order demanded). Nothing has changed a decade later — not even the DOJ’s continued attempts to teach an old law new tricks.

    • While Most Of The Rest Of The Internet Industry Is Fighting Against CISA, Facebook Accused Of Secretly Lobbying For It

      However, the folks at Fight for the Future, who have been working hard to stop CISA, are now claiming that they have it on good authority that Facebook is one of the only internet companies secretly lobbying in favor of the bill and is asking people to sign its petition to convince Facebook to back down…

    • Two Intended Consequences CISA Supporters Will Be Responsible For

      Given that a majority in the Senate is preparing to vote for CISA, I wanted to lay out two intended consequences of CISA, so supporters will know what we will hold them responsible for when these intended consequences prove out:

      The government will lose power to crack down on providers who don’t take care of customers’ data.

    • Reading The Tea Leaves To Understand Why CISA Is A Surveillance Bill

      I’ve had a few conversations recently with people on Twitter who claim that CISA is “not a surveillance bill,” claiming that they’ve read the bill and there’s nothing about surveillance in it. It’s true that the bill positions itself as nothing more than a “cybersecurity” bill that clarifies a few things and then provides some immunity for companies who “voluntarily” share information. However, as I’ve said in response, in order to understand why it’s a surveillance bill, you have to look more closely at how CISA interacts with other laws and what the intelligence community is currently doing. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy, because part of what the intelligence community is doing and how they’ve interpreted other laws remains secret. But, as you’ve probably heard, some of that has been leaking out over the past few years.

    • Clinton Private E-Mail Included CIA Source Identity: Yahoo

      Nothing indicates March, 2011 e-mail was marked classified when Clinton received it, though sensitive nature of it should have been red flag and it should not have been passed along, former CIA officer John Maguire tells Yahoo

    • CIA Steps Up Its Game in Cyberfight Against Hackers

      The CIA is making a great leap into the 21st century.

      As part of a broader reorganization, the clandestine agency this month launched its first new directorate in more than 50 years, designed to expand the agency’s cyber-espionage efforts and its fight against hackers. Director John Brennan called the move “a key milestone” in the CIA’s broader modernization efforts.

  • Civil Rights

    • CIA pulled officers from Beijing after breach of federal personnel records

      The CIA pulled a number of officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as a precautionary measure in the wake of the massive cybertheft of the personal data of federal employees, current and former U.S. officials said.

    • CIA Use of Waterboarding Found to be More Extensive than Agency Admitted

      In these cases, men endured “water dousing” that, like waterboarding, could simulate a drowning sensation or chill a person’s body temperature through immersion in water, with or without the use of a board, causing them to suffer hypothermia.

    • Guantánamo war court grapples with how an ex-CIA ‘Black Site’ captive can be his own lawyer

      Lawyers and the judge at the Sept. 11 trial haggled over the mechanics on Tuesday of how a former CIA captive kept virtually incommunicado could defend himself at the five-man death-penalty trial.

      No date has been set for the trial of the alleged architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and four alleged co-conspirators. The question arose Monday after an alleged plot deputy, Walid bin Attash, asked the judge how he would go about representing himself.

    • Former CIA interrogator forced to resign from college post following exposé

      A former CIA interrogator says he was asked to resign from his college teaching post in Erie, Pennsylvania after Newsweek magazine ran a feature article about him earlier this month.

      David Martine, 59, told local Fox affiliate WJET-TV in a story broadcast Friday that Gannon University “demanded his immediate resignation” last week after publication of the article, which explored his 26-year career as a CIA interrogator and security agent. He said his dismissal was so abrupt he was “not able to transition any of his classes, or say goodbye to his students,” the station reported.

      A spokesperson for Gannon, a private Catholic college founded in 1925, would not say why Martine was forced out, telling WJET-TV: “It is university policy not to comment on personnel matters.”

    • NYPD Continues to Confuse Itself with the CIA

      The New York Police Department has said it has ended its practice of using informants to snoop on Muslim organizations in New York and New Jersey without any actual definable suspicion of terrorist activity attached to the targets.

      Instead it could very well be using vans with X-ray-emitting equipment (costing more than $700,000 each) to snoop inside vehicles and buildings. We don’t know the extent to which this is happening, nor whether it’s creating health hazards for anybody caught up in it, because the New York Police Department is refusing to provide any information and fighting against a court order that they do.

    • Kevin McKenna: The UK establishment’s in-built prejudice is still with us 80 years on

      The PM’s sneers at Corbyn betray just how attitudes have not really changed

    • JFK Assassination Plot Mirrored in 1961 France: Part 1

      What the colonial powers have done in Muslim countries is well known. Less well known are the machinations of Allen Dulles and the CIA in one of these colonial powers, France.

    • Saudi Arabia attacks Jeremy Corbyn over lack of ‘respect’

      The Labour leader has urged the Government to scrap a £5.9m prison consultancy contract with the repressive Middle Eastern regime

    • BBC Protects U.K.’s Close Ally Saudi Arabia With Incredibly Dishonest and Biased Editing

      The BBC loves to boast about how “objective” and “neutral” it is. But a recent article, which it was forced to change, illustrates the lengths to which the British state-funded media outlet will go to protect one of the U.K. government’s closest allies, Saudi Arabia, which also happens to be one of the country’s largest arms purchasers (just this morning, the Saudi ambassador to the U.K. threatened in an op-ed that any further criticism of the Riyadh regime by Jeremy Corbyn could jeopardize the multi-layered U.K./Saudi alliance).

      Earlier this month, the BBC published an article describing the increase in weapons and money sent by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf regimes to anti-Assad fighters in Syria. All of that “reporting” was based on the claims of what the BBC called “a Saudi government official,” who — because he works for a government closely allied with the U.K. — was granted anonymity by the BBC and then had his claims mindlessly and uncritically presented as fact (it is the rare exception when the BBC reports adversarially on the Saudis). This anonymous “Saudi official” wasn’t whistleblowing or presenting information contrary to the interests of the regime; to the contrary, he was disseminating official information the regime wanted publicized.


      So the Saudis, says the anonymous official, are only arming groups such as the “Army of Conquest,” but not the al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front. What’s the problem with this claim? It’s obvious, though the BBC would not be so impolite as to point it out: The Army of Conquest includes the Nusra Front as one of its most potent components.


      In other words, the claim from the anonymous Saudi official that the BBC uncritically regurgitated — that the Saudis are only arming the Army of Conquest but no groups that “include” the Nusra Front — is self-negating. A BBC reader, Ricardo Vaz, brought this contradiction to the BBC’s attention. As he told The Intercept: “The problem is that the Nusra Front is the most important faction inside the Army of Conquest. So either the Saudi official expected the BBC journalist not to know this, or he expects us to believe they can deliver weapons to factions fighting side by side with an al Qaeda affiliate and that those weapons will not make their way into Nusra’s hands. In any case, this is very close to an official admission that the Saudis (along with Qataris and Turkish) are supplying weapons to an al Qaeda affiliate. This of course is not a secret to anyone who’s paying attention.”


      But what this does highlight is just how ludicrous — how beyond parody — the 14-year-old war on terror has become, how little it has to do with its original ostensible justification. The regime with the greatest plausible proximity to the 9/11 attack — Saudi Arabia — is the closest U.S. ally in the region next to Israel. The country that had absolutely nothing to do with that attack, and which is at least as threatened as the U.S. by the religious ideology that spurred it — Iran — is the U.S.’s greatest war-on-terror adversary. Now we have a virtual admission from the Saudis that they are arming a group that centrally includes al Qaeda, while the U.S. itself has at least indirectly done the same (just as was true in Libya). And we’re actually at the point where western media outlets are vehemently denouncing Russia for bombing al Qaeda elements, which those outlets are manipulatively referring to as “non-ISIS groups.”

    • IMF: Saudi Arabia is in danger of running out of money within five years

      Saudi Arabia has about $650 billion in foreign reserves to help it withstand the slump in oil prices. But at the country’s current rate of spending, it won’t take long before the supply of reserves runs out.

      According to a recent IMF report, the drop in oil prices from around $100 per barrel in 2014 to $45 per barrel this summer has already cost oil exporters in the Middle East roughly $360 billion this year. Without drastic action, several countries are at risk of using up their cash reserves within five years.

    • Rape victims in the UAE facing imprisonment for having extramarital sex, claims documentary

      A significant number of migrant women working in the UAE face prosecution and sometimes jail after being raped, a new documentary claims.

      The Zina laws, based on Islamic Sharia law, makes extra material sex illegal in the country; this includes adultery, fornication and homosexuality.

      A BBC Arabic documentary, Pregnant and Chains — to be screened at the BBC Arabic Film Festival this week — found “hundreds” of women have been imprisoned under these laws, including women who have been raped and women who are pregnant.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • MEPs Ready to Give in to Telcos

      Tomorrow, MEPs will vote during the plenary session the Telecom Single Market regulation which includes a part on Net Neutrality, more than a year after their very positive vote. On the pretext that the dispositions, to be voted tomorrow, are less harmful that the Council’s version, a large majority of the MEPs are ready to come back on the breakthroughs of the previous version by approving a text that has too many loopholes to be adopted without being amended as it will put at risk our fundamental rights and liberties.

    • Letter to MEPs: Net Neutrality, Will You Betray Yourselves?

      Tomorrow, MEPs will vote the the Telecom Single Market regulation text. If amendments to ensure Net neutrality are not adopted, then MEPs will have betrayed their own vote of April 2014 and the citizens who elected them.

    • The EU Prepares To Vote For Awful, Loophole-Filled Net Neutrality Rules

      On Tuesday, the European Union is expected to vote on new net neutrality rules, the end result of months of debate between the European Commission, European Parliament, and the EU Council. Of course just like here in the States, heavy lobbying pressure by ISPs has the lion’s share of politicians supporting loopholes that will let giant ISPs do pretty much everything they want. The rules at first glance look very similar to the flimsy, 2010 rules proposed in the U.S. back in 2010 — allowing ISPs to engage in anti-competitive shenanigans — provided the carrier vaguely insists it’s for the safety and security of the network.

    • Net Neutrality in Europe: A Statement From Sir Tim Berners-Lee

      Tomorrow, members of the European Parliament face a key vote on the future of the Internet. The proposed regulations in front of them are weak and confusing. To keep Europe innovative and competitive, it is essential that MEPs adopt amendments for stronger “network neutrality” (net neutrality).

      When I designed the World Wide Web, I built it as an open platform to foster collaboration and innovation. The Web evolved into a powerful and ubiquitous platform because I was able to build it on an open network that treated all packets of information equally. This principle of net neutrality has kept the Internet a free and open space since its inception.

      Since then, the Internet has become the central infrastructure of our time — every sector of our economy and democracy depends on it.

    • Net neutrality: Final countdown to keep the internet fair and equal

      The proposal before the Parliament has crucial loopholes. My colleagues and I are fighting until the last minute for an internet that is fair and equal.

    • The Gaps in Global Internet Governance Are Growing, According to New CFR Interactive

      With over 40 percent of the world’s population now online, the Internet has revolutionized the way the world communicates. But with fast evolving technology, a proliferation of actors with access to the Internet, and an absence of international consensus on what should be permissible, the gap between existing world arrangements and the challenges posed by the Internet is in fact widening, according to the latest addition to the Global Governance Monitor, a multimedia resource from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

    • New top-level domains a money grab and a mistake: Paul Vixie

      DNS is what makes the internet relevant, says Vixie, with ICANN caving in to demands from the companies it’s meant to be regulating indicating corruption.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Sony Filed a Copyright Claim Against the Stock Video I Licensed to Them

        For the past few years, people have been contending with more and more false copyright claims and ID matches on services such as YouTube. While these copyright claims often involve an audio match of copyrighted music, sometimes it is the visual content that is in question.

        Whether it’s still photography or motion imagery, your visual content can be flagged, blocked, or removed due to a copyright dispute. If you have original content on YouTube, this could happen to you.

      • Russian companies should block UDP traffic to fight piracy, says think tank

        A Russian Internet industry think tank has proposed making companies legally responsible for Internet traffic flowing on their networks if it uses the UDP protocol. Discouraging the use of UDP in this way is designed to stymie BitTorrent clients, most of which have switched from the more usual TCP protocol to the simpler, connectionless UDP, according to a report on the Cnews site (Google translation).

        The proposal forms part of a larger “media and information roadmap” (Russian PDF), which comes from the Internet Development Institute, set up earlier this year by organisations representing the main Internet, software, and media companies in Russia. The aims of the think tank are to create a forum for industry discussions, carry out research, and “dialogue with the authorities.”

      • Why can’t I fix my tractor?

        Down on the farm, there’s a controversy brewing, because farm equipment manufacturer John Deere doesn’t want farmers tinkering with the software on the farmers’ own tractors. Spark contributor Sean Prpick talks to Saskatchewan farmer Chris Herrnbock, who wants to see a more flexible and farmer-friendly policy rather than a copyright crackdown.

European Patent Organisation: Hallmark of a Corrupted (by Corporations) Entity

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NASCAR sponsorsWhose president is it anyway?

Summary: Assorted remarks on what has become of the EPO, which was once aligned with European people and is now, on the face of it, aligned with foreign megacorporations because it wants more money and power (just like a corporation with private shareholders)

THIS week will bring some important articles about the EPO, which is desperately trying to avoid negative publicity. Seeing what happened to FIFA and Volkswagen in Germany sure is a strong motivator.

We wish to warn everyone that the EPO will bring us software patents if it carries on in this current trajectory . Recent articles like the USPTO‘s “USPTO Advances Cooperation with Foreign IP Leaders” and the EPO’s “EPO and USPTO renew their commitment to joint classification scheme” show an ambition which we warned about on numerous occasions half a decade ago, aided by Wikileaks and relating to what was known at the time as Europe's patent "harmonisation" or Community Patent (now it’s known as UPC, as the names continue to change so as to evade negative publicity).

We are amused to have read the patent maximalists from IAM praising of the USPTO’s patent ‘quality’, knowing that the USPTO’s patent ‘quality’ is somewhat a joke (many examples to show for it). With a 92% "success" rate, just about everything someone submits to them (close to 19 out of 20 applications, including repeated attempts) will be deemed ‘innovative’ and ‘novel’. This is the ‘banana republic’ of patent systems. China’s patent system is also notorious in that regard (only cares about numbers), and Benoît Battistelli recently liaised with them too. It’s boasted about in the EPO’s Web site. Is China now Europe’s role model? Well, on human rights in the EPO it sure is…

Sadly, the EPO goes down the same path as the world’s most notorious systems. Under Battistelli’s regime it is happy season for the bogus ‘invnstors’. His regime, which only strives to maximise profit, made it implicitly clear that the EPO invites yet more crappy applications (pushing quality down), so more people submit applications and the regime celebrates this, as it this is a “success”.

Remember that this is the regime which is now willing to grant patents on life, just like the USPTO (see the article “EPO Backs Patents On Conventional Plants: Broccoli, Tomato Cases Decided”, composed by the Switzerland-based IP Watch).

“What we have right now is a Trojan horse right at the very heart of Europe, flagrantly breaking laws (because it claims immunity from them, like the Mafia) and serving large foreign corporations as a matter of priority.”If the EPO already follows USPTO when it comes to patenting life, then why not algorithms too? Or sandwich-making? Cui bono? Battistelli and the large corporations whom he evidently serves as a matter of priority, even if these corporations are not at all European.

Battistelli does not want to hear criticism, so he has launched a new, vicious war against the messengers. The “EPO [is] Still In Turmoil,” wrote IP Watch several days ago, “As Supervisory Body Backs Dismissal Of High-Level Staff” (those who 'dare' not to agree with Battistelli's horrible plan and poor vision for the EPO).

“Well over 1,000 EPO staff have been in revolt,” wrote IP Watch. These are the brave people who decided to attend in spite of threats from the management. Imagine how many people would have attended if it wasn’t for an atmosphere of terror, created by high-level management. “An article in the Techrights blog here details concerns and criticism of the EPO,” IP Watch added. “An article in the IPKat blog summarises various recent blog articles on the EPO.”

Earlier this year IP Watch published the article “European Patent Office Tapped Computers”. Yes, even China would be envious of such repressive measures.

How is the German political intervention into EPO abuses coming along? There was supposed to be a word about it at the end of September. No word though. What happened to the investigation? Was it politically thwarted? Will the police ever get involved? We quite frankly doubt it because people in power tend to protect other people in power. Actions must therefore come from below.

Europe would be far better off if the thugs who run the EPO were exiled to Sardinia or Corsica. What we have right now is a Trojan horse right at the very heart of Europe, flagrantly breaking laws (because it claims immunity from them, like the Mafia) and serving large foreign corporations as a matter of priority. This cannot be allowed to go on and even staff of the EPO knows this.

Expect the EPO’s management to become more fearful and therefore more aggressive.

“Patent monopolies are believed to drive innovation but they actually impede the pace of science and innovation, Stiglitz said. The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation, he said.”

IP Watch on Professor Joseph Stiglitz


The Deteriorating Working Conditions at the EPO Show Reluctance to Make Talented Staff (or Ill Staff) Happy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Potentially a contributing factor to staff suicides

Suicide danger

Summary: Critical remarks about the poor treatment that EPO management offers to staff, whereas the EPO’s Central Staff Committee and the staff union — the one that the EPO’s management is frantically crushing — try to be attentive and helpful

THE MANAGEMENT AT THE EPO, which chose to treat the staff like an enemy rather than a gift, already recognises its poor recruitment capabilities in the face of a notorious track record and negative publicity (bribed-for publicity does not count [1, 2]) and brain drain (poor staff retention and in many cases suicides). Rather than extend an olive branch to what remains of the talent pool, the EPO continues to crush the rights of staff, assuring that things won’t change for the better.

“Rather than extend an olive branch to what remains of the talent, the EPO continues to crush the rights of staff, assuring that things won’t change for the better.”People who are tactlessly declared “invalids”, which is a rather offensive term that’s sometimes used to refer to people who have developed health problems, are also being pressured by the EPO’s management. It seems like invalid are prevented from doing some benevolent community service. How is that for a strategy? Is causing despair and hopelessness going to help the reputation of the EPO? The premise is that this can mitigate or eliminate conflicts of interest, but in practice it is a lot worse. Crushing the basic rights of European workers and spinning that as a moral advantage is, quite frankly, offensive at best.

“How to make sure invalids remain invalid” is what SUEPO called it, noting that help is around the corner, not at EPO but at SUEPO. People who are already suffering have a safety net or a cushion not from the employer that really ought to value their skills but from their colleagues, who fight for the rights of their fellow men and women.

Until now invalidity meant “not being able to perform your duties or similar duties at least at a 50% part-time basis” (previous Art. 62(a) par. (2) ServRegs). For new invalidities the limit has now been lowered to 30%. Nevertheless: those who have been held invalid, either under the old or the new system, may have a residual work-capacity, or may be able to have other activities. Under the old system those concerned were obliged to inform the administration of any paid activities and their invalidity pension was reduced accordingly. The new regulations, however, on top of obliging invalid staff to remain at their place of employment for at least 10 years and until the age of 55, forbid any gainful activity or employment. We do not to see the purpose of these restrictions, other than punishing staff for falling ill. We have often objected to the “Residenzpflicht” meaning that colleagues are kept away from the support of their family and friends “at home” if that is elsewhere than their place of employment. Note that for every absence permission must be requested in advance. With the Personnel Department in disarray swift, fair treatment is not guaranteed. With the additional interdiction of such activities, invalids are pushed even further in social isolation. The unclear formulation of the new regulations further opens the doors to arbitrary allegations against colleagues. It could well be that the implementation goes even
further than what one could expect when reading CA/D 2/15. A part of the new regulation will come into force on 01.01.2016. SUEPO will help those of its members who are concerned. Do not hesitate to contact us.

“Your new career,” SUEPO claims, is not so promising in the Battistelli-managed EPO. All the benefits are fading away and the work environment becomes more militant over time. “Back to the 1950s,” SUEPO calls it, alluding to very terrible workers’ rights (after a devastating world war). Here’s how they put it:

While the “new career system” was being designed, we predicted it would be a nightmare.

Some did not believe us; some hoped against all hope that it would not turn out to be so bad; some thought one would manage to survive the rat race. But now, already in the early implementation phase, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Are you a pregnant woman? Are you sick, requesting unpaid leave to refresh your mind, asking for a parental leave to take care of your children, asking for a family leave to take care of your old and sick parents? If you are in DG2, this absence will be held against you when assessing your contribution to your unit, and will have a negative consequence on your career prospects. In Patent Administration, a head of unit encouraged by this new “approach” that comes from the top even dared to state “Sick people should be happy to get paid while they are sick”. No comment. Similar plans are being hatched in DG1.

The recently published President’s guidelines on rewards for the “new career” further punish close to 40% of staff whose career is frozen (not step, no promotion).

A Brave New World is taking shape.

Let’s not forget institutional harassment and menacing threats against people who merely ‘dare’ to exercise their rights.

Interesting links shared by SUEPO include this article in German. “While Mr Battistelli and Ms Bergot introduce sick leave control systems that go against staff well being,” said SUEPO, “and are incompatible with national laws and medical ethics/secrecy, physicians form the university of Magdeburg plead for less sickness certification for employees in Germany.”

It is followed by a joke about Volkswagen (VW), where management is almost as corrupt as in the EPO (Volkswagen is in headline for only one major scandal, unlike EPO): “Sharp decrease of the sickness figures in the EPO: is VW in charge of measuring?”

Another joke is an extract from Job Profiles of all Staff: “To be flexible and to adapt in a positive way, to sustain performance when the situation changes, workload increases, tensions rise, ambiguity mounts or priorities shift.”

The punch line? “And when all of that happens at the same time…?”

Working for the EPO isn’t the ‘fun’ which in-progress propaganda tries to convince the public that it is. “PAX vicious spiral,” as SUEPO called it, describes the China-esque measurements of staff output, which annuls or ignores any human factors. People are reduced to machines and are treated accordingly. To quote:

In the recent years, the PAX data related to the so-called “Reference Examiner” had become fairly stable. For instance the 2014 productivity P of the reference examiner had only marginally increased or decreased (depending on the Cluster) when compared to the productivity P of 2013. This reflected the normal stabilisation of the productivity in DG1 after years of improvement of DG1′s performance, and was simply the proof that “sky is not the limit” if one wishes to keep a reasonable level of quality.

This was not enough for management. With the introduction of the “new career” Mr Minnoye (VP1) drastically changed the substance of the PAX Guidelines: fairness elements and safeguards have been removed but the calculation of the productivity of the Ref Examiner remains. This means that, to calculate the productivity P of the Ref Examiner for a year “n”, the data of the previous 3 years (n-1, n-2, n-3) of all experienced examiners, i.e. with no learning curve, are used.

The production and the productivity in DG1 have made a quantum leap in 2015 with respectively +13% and +7% (Jan-August compared to the same period in 2014). As a consequence, the productivity P of the Ref Examiner will mechanically increase by an amount between 2% and 3% next year.

This can only reassure management that “putting a gun to the examiners head” works beyond their wildest dreams.

We can safely predict that targets will be even higher in 2016 than in 2015. The insane production pressure and the current “management” methods will remain. With their deleterious consequences on staff’s health and the quality of the work performed at the EPO. But does management care?

Given the many EPO abuses (in the Wiki we have broken them all down to around a couple dozen), we humbly doubt these bureaucratic people care about how ‘low level’ staff (technical people, often with doctoral degrees) feels. They cannot actually care considering how they have been treating such ‘low level’ staff. We predict that unless some radical measures/steps like head-rolling are implemented (the current management is impossible to negotiate with), it won’t be long before the EPO has more job openings than patents issued in a month. Patent examiners would not have a hard time finding employment elsewhere given their skills; it’s just that their initial salary might — at least initially — be a lot lower. But what price can one put on happiness and health? It seems certain that managers at the EPO will need to compromise, apologise, reform, or simply resign, making room for new management that is not distrusted and at times literally loathed by the workers. A lot of damage has been done therein and in order to put an end to this distrust and loathing considerable changes are required. Battistelli, based on some claims, has already threatened to resign; maybe that’s imperative at this stage.

Incidentally, this morning SUEPO posted the following message about “the social situation of the European Patent Office”:

In the report of the 145th meeting of the Administrative Council (AC), the Council announced its decision to initiate a review of the social situation at the European Patent Offce and to continue the exercise aiming at union recognition talks.

In a letter to Mr Kongstad, Chairman of the AC, and Mr Battistelli, President of the Office, SUEPO reminds that the initial talks were interrupted because, at precisely the same time as the talks were starting, the Office Administration considered it appropriate to initiate an investigation with the help of Control Risks against staff representatives and/or union executives.
The closure of this investigation and any other investigation or disciplinary procedure targeting staff representatives and/or union officials – without prejudice to the accused – is a condition sine qua non for recommencing the talks.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

This, in turn, links to a letter (in PDF form) which states:

Review of the social situation at the European Patent Office

Dear Mr Kongstad,
Dear Mr Battistelli,

In the report of the 145th meeting of the Administrative Council that appeared on the external website of the EPO you informed the public that:

The Council decided to initiate a review of the social situation at the European Patent Office after five years of reform setting and implementation.

Several measures could contribute to a possible progress in this context:

- continuing the exercise aiming at staff union recognition, despite the difficulties met

- aiming at the elaboration of a negotiation strategy preserving all the results already obtained

- launching an independent external social study, in close co-operation with the President

SUEPO agrees that after five years of reform setting and implementation, a review would be appropriate. We also fully support the notion of an independent review. In view of the latter, a close co-operation not only with the President but also with the staff representation would seem necessary.

We are equally open to continue the union recognition talks. We remind you that the initial Union recognition talks were interrupted because, at precisely the same time as the talks were starting, the Office Administration considered it appropriate to accuse Staff Committee members and Union officials of harassing a colleague in the staff representation. These accusations of harassment, levied not by the alleged victims but by Ms Bergot, Principal Director Personnel, are clearly vexatious and entirely without merit. The closure of this investigation and any other investigation or disciplinary procedure targeting staff representatives and/or union officials – without prejudice to the accused – is a condition sine qua non for recommencing the talks.

Finally, we are somewhat surprised by the statement that the negotiation strategy should “preserve all the results already obtained”. If preservation of all the results is the aim, that would render both the review and the negotiations futile. We understand that you mean “all the positive results”. We can obviously agree with that aim but it may be judicious to point out that opinions may differ on what can be considered positive results. We are looking forward to discuss these points with you at the earliest possible opportunity.

Sincerely yours,
SUEPO Central

To summarise, witch-hunting of staff representatives needs to stop and an independent review by an external entity is still desirable because instruments of power inside the EPO are assumed to be part of the conspiracy to defend the higher management, hence crush the union/s and cover up institutional abuses. There’s something truly rotten at the EPO and we know — at least roughly — where it started.

A fish rots from the head down: “When an organization or state fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause.”

Links 26/10/2015: GUADEC 2016 Plans, Solus’ Budgie Desktop

Posted in News Roundup at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Twitter Will Soon Fill Your Moments Feed With Ads

    Twitter is not waiting to monetize its two-week-old Moments feature, which will run its first ad this weekend.

    Advertisers will get their own Moments channel for 24 hours, where they can post and curate content (including images and video) as they see fit. The first to do so is a coalition of MGM, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, who are all banding together to push the movie Creed, which is a Rocky spinoff and not a documentary about the Christian rock band.

  • ‘1984’ is timely­—Big Brother’s threat remains

    Published in 1949, “1984” grapples with diverse themes, including the relationship between language and thought, the repression of individuality and the manipulation of information, according to Richard Chwedyk, an adjunct professor in the Creative Writing Department.

  • Manchester United pub The Trafford bans half-and-half scarves

    Half-and-half scarves have been banned from a supporters’ pub in the shadows of Old Trafford .

    Despite the enmity between United and City, hundreds of derby day matchgoers have snapped up the ‘tourist fans’ souvenirs, which many supporters regard as a symbol of the soulless commercialisation of football.

    But now The Trafford, on Chester Road, has banned the scarves and the popular boozer is refusing entry to supporters who turn up wearing them ahead of United home games.

    “No half & half scarves! No exceptions!! Please place them in the bin and clear your conscience,” the sign read on derby day.

  • SF Biz Finds New Hires Hard to Find

    While the boom in San Francisco has helped boost business, shops and restaurants are finding that they have no one to make the sales.

    “We’re desperate,” said Jefferson McCarley, the owner of Mission Bicycle.

    McCarley said he once chased a customer for two blocks down the street after thinking that his noticeably sunny attitude would make him good at sales. Unfortunately for Mission Bicycle, the man was a medical professional.

    Chewy Marzolo, who manages Escape From New York pizza on 22nd Street, is hiring a prep cook and has been looking for a few weeks. That used to be the easiest position to fill, “because until recently, that’s something that everyone here knew how to do,” he said. Signs in window would fill the position.

  • Science

    • The CIA’s Bold Kidnapping of a Soviet Spacecraft

      One day in late 1959 or 1960 — dates aren’t totally clear in declassified documents — a crack team of four CIA agents worked through the night in stocking feet taking apart a kidnapped Soviet Lunik spacecraft without removing it from its crate. They photographed every part and documented every construction element, then perfectly reassembled the whole thing without leaving a trace. It was a daring bit of espionage at the early years of the space race. Intended to level the playing field between two international superpowers, it was a heist that risked turning the cold war hot.

  • Botnets

  • Health/Nutrition

  • September News

    • Anonymous Browsing at the Library

      The good news is that the library is resisting the pressure and keeping Tor running.

    • New Hampshire Library Rejects DHS Fearmongering, Turns Tor Back On
    • Despite Law Enforcement Concerns, Lebanon Board Will Reactivate Privacy Network Tor at Kilton Library
    • This Is Why 335,000 Target Workers Are Getting Fitbits

      Target will be offering Fitbits to its employees in an attempt to improve their health and cut down on health care costs, Bloomberg reports.

    • Mt. Gox chief charged with embezzling bitcoin funds

      Japanese prosecutors have charged the former founder and CEO of bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox with embezzling the money of clients. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

    • Mt. Gox owner faces new embezzlement charges in Japan

      Late last week, Japanese prosecutors charged Mark Karpelès, the owner of famed Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, with embezzlement. Authorities there accused him of stealing millions of dollars worth of bitcoins from customers of Mt. Gox.

      This marks the second time Karpelès has been charged in Japan. In July 2015, he was accused of falsifying financial data. For now, the Frenchman remains behind bars in Tokyo.

    • Science “Pirate” Attacks Elsevier’s Copyright Monopoly in Court

      In a lawsuit filed by Elsevier, one of the largest academic publishers, the operator of Sci-Hub.org is facing millions of dollars in damages. This week she submitted her first reply to the court, scolding the publisher for exploiting researchers and blocking access to knowledge.

    • US Intelligence Is More Privatized Than Ever Before

      Almost 14 years to the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks drove intelligence spending into the stratosphere, two of the largest business associations in the spying industry held a “summit” meeting to discuss the current state of national security. Two realities were immediately apparent.

    • Security guard ordered to give up drones after admitting to flying them over football matches

      A security guard has been banned from operating drone aircraft after admitting flying them over the Palace of Westminster, football stadiums and Buckingham Palace.

      Nigel Wilson has been ordered to forfeit the three drones and the cameras he fitted to them because he flew them over built-up areas in “flagrant disregard” for the safety of people below. It is the first time a person has been prosecuted for using drones.

    • It Only Took GM Five Years To Patch Dangerous Vulnerability Impacting Millions Of Automobiles

      For all the hype surrounding the “Internet of Things” (IOT), it’s becoming abundantly clear that the security actually governing the sector is little more than hot garbage. Whether it’s televisions that bleed unencrypted, recorded living room conversations, or refrigerators that expose your Gmail credentials, IOT developers were so excited to cash in on the brave new world of connectivity, security was an absolute afterthought. Entertainingly, that has resulted in many “smart” technologies being little more than advertisements for the fact that sometimes, it’s ok for your device to be as stupid as possible.

    • Lidl to pay recommended living wage

      Lidl has said it will become the first UK supermarket to implement the minimum wage as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation.

    • Conservation will be key in the takeover of National Geographic

      The Foxification of National Geographic startled a few lemurs in the American media jungle last week. A new joint venture, built on an axis which takes the globally known magazine and its televisual and digital assets from the not-for-profit sector and puts them under the control of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox, caused initial shock and dismay. While outside the US National Geographic might be best known to consumers as the source of monkey pictures in dentists’ waiting rooms, it is a significant investor in science and research; and while the Murdoch millions boosting the endowment are welcome, the shadow of a different editorial line is not. But maybe for once those fears are misplaced.

    • EU puts fresh coat of paint on ISDS, now re-branded as “Investment Court System”

      The European Commission has unveiled its proposals to overhaul the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which grants foreign companies a privileged, extralegal system for suing governments over regulations and laws they claim would harm their investments. The Commission hopes the new approach will be included in the TTIP agreement currently being negotiated with the US. Problematically, the new proposals still grant exceptional legal privileges to foreign investors not enjoyed by domestic companies or the public.

      Speaking today in Brussels, the Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, said she wants to replace traditional ISDS tribunals with a new Investment Court System (ICS). Under the ICS, disputes between companies and countries would be decided by three judges drawn at random from a pool of 15—five from the EU, five from the US, and five from other nations—previously chosen jointly by the EU and US. The proceedings would be held in public, rather than in secret as with the current ISDS approach, which is based on ad-hoc tribunals formed of three specialist lawyers.

    • Sorry, Apple. Turns Out Designers Don’t Use iPads
    • iPad Pro not even an iPad replacement, let alone MacBook
    • Apple competitive edge ‘fading dangerously’: Ovum
    • Bug in iOS and OSX Allows Writing of Arbitrary Files Via AirDrop

      There is a major vulnerability in a library in iOS that allows an attacker to overwrite arbitrary files on a target device and, when used in conjunction with other techniques, install a signed app that the device will trust without prompting the user with a warning dialog.

    • John Oliver: If you’re forced to rely on “hideously broken” public defender system, “you’re f*cked”

      Oliver later discussed the ordeal of a Floridian who was arrested on a traffic violation and racked up over $600 in court fees in order plead “no contest.” “They may as well as charged him an irony fee,” Oliver said, “because as it turns out, being poor in Florida is really fucking expensive.”

    • ISPs don’t have 1st Amendment right to edit Internet, FCC tells court

      The Federal Communications Commission yesterday said it did not violate the First Amendment rights of Internet service providers when it voted to implement net neutrality rules.

      Broadband providers who sued to overturn the rules claim their constitutional rights are being violated, but the FCC disputed that and other arguments in a filing in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

    • Millions of UK emails on global virus plotters’ hitlist

      British cyber-security experts have uncovered a trove of hundreds of millions of email addresses being used as a hitlist by criminals stealing financial data from banks, government bodies and other corporates.

      Specialists at GCHQ have been alerting companies named in the files, as an international investigation seeks to track down those using it.

    • Snapchat’s latest feature: Pay to replay a message that disappeared

      The hot social-networking startup is offering customers in the US the opportunity to re-watch photos and videos they’ve already seen, part of the latest effort to expand its business.

    • Judge Slams Copyright Troll’s “Harassment” Tactics in Piracy Case

      Adult movie studio Malibu Media has received a slap on the wrist from New York federal judge Katherine Forrest. The company asked permission to interrogate the neighbors and spouse of an accused downloader, a tactic the court equates to harassment.

    • Conservative Party Pirated Labour Leader Supporter’s Video

      A controversial UK Conservative party video portraying the Labour party’s new leader in a negative light has been taken down by YouTube. The advert, which attacked incoming Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, contained copyrighted content not authorized for use by the Tories. In fact, the footage is owned by a staunch Corbyn supporter.

    • California’s low snowpack truly exceptional

      After two winters of extremely low precipitation, California is suffering through a severe drought, one exacerbated by unusually warm weather. The heat influences the drought in part by enhancing evaporation, ensuring that less of the limited precipitation stays in the ground. But it also changes the dynamics of how the precipitation falls. That’s because most of the precipitation comes in winter, and temperatures control whether it falls as rain or snow.

    • Sierra Nevada’s 500-year snowpack low deepens California drought

      The snow cover on the iconic US mountain range of Sierra Nevada has hit a 500-year low, with the snowpack in April this year just 5 per cent of the average volumes recorded for that month between 1951 and 2000.

    • The Dismal State of America’s Decade-Old Voting Machines

      As the US presidential election season heats up, the public has focused on the candidates vying for the nation’s top office. But whether Donald Trump will secure the Republican nomination is secondary to a more serious quandary: whether the nation’s voting machines will hold up when Americans head to the polls in 2016.

      Nearly every state is using electronic touchscreen and optical-scan voting systems that are at least a decade old, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law (.pdf). Beyond the fact the machines are technologically antiquated, after years of wear and tear, states are reporting increasing problems with degrading touchscreens, worn-out modems for transmitting election results, and failing motherboards and memory cards.

    • Mapping How Tor’s Anonymity Network Spread Around the World

      Online privacy projects come and go. But as the anonymity software Tor approaches its tenth year online, it’s grown into a powerful, deeply-rooted privacy network overlaid across the internet. And a new real-time map of that network illustrates just how widespread and global that network has become.

    • Diamond Open Access Gets Real: ‘Free To Read, Free To Publish’ Arrives

      All-in-all, this is an exciting development, and one that could have a major impact on scholarly publishing if it is taken up more widely. However, the fact that it took even its inventor over two years to create his first diamond open access title shows that it is likely to be a while before that happens.

    • How digital tech secured Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership victory

      How did an unknown no-hoper end up winning the race to become leader of the Labour Party by a huge margin? Digital technology seems to have played a key part. According to The Guardian, the campaign deployed its own special canvassing app, “which allows anyone in the country to set up a phone bank on their home computer—making calls, listing questions to be asked and providing a place for answers to be registered.” The app was specially created by a volunteer, many of whom were recruited through an extensive use of social media by Corbyn supporters.

    • Can Jeremy Corbyn Free Labour From the Dead Hand of Tony Blair?

      Once considered a fringe candidate, Corbyn won a huge mandate. But can he consolidate the party and keep new voters energized?

    • Federal Court Invalidates 11-Year-old FBI gag order on National Security Letter recipient Nicholas Merrill

      A federal district court has ordered the FBI to lift an eleven-year- old gag order imposed on Nicholas Merrill forbidding him from speaking about a National Security Letter (“NSL”) that the FBI served on him in 2004. The ruling marks the first time that an NSL gag order has been lifted in full since the PATRIOT Act vastly expanded the scope of the FBI’s NSL authority in 2001. Mr. Merrill, the executive director of the Calyx Institute, is represented by law students and supervising attorneys of the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, a program of Yale Law School’s Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression and Information Society Project.

    • Federal Court Finally Says That Gag Order On 11-Year-Old National Security Letter Should Be Lifted Already

      Five years ago, we wrote about a pretty big victory against National Security Letters (NSLs), which the government has long used to get around the 4th Amendment, demanding information from companies, complete with a perpetual gag order. In 2007, an anonymous ISP owner fought back, speaking out against the whole gag order thing, but not even being able to say what ISP he was associated with, because of that gag order. In 2010, Nicholas Merrill, of Calyx Internet Access, was finally able to admit that he was the one fighting the gag order — after reaching an agreement with the government (and that was after a number of trips back and forth between the district and appeals courts). Now, five years later, a federal court has finally ruled that the gag order, which was issued back in 2004, should be lifted, because the government has no “good reason” for keeping it in place and keeping the gag order would violate the First Amendment. You can read the redacted order here, which is an interesting read. Basically, a permanent gag order doesn’t really fit with that whole First Amendment thing we have here in the US — but the court prefers to focus on whether or not there’s any reason to keep the order in place now.

    • Calling All Network Engineers and Computer Scientists: Help Defend Net Neutrality

      Are you a computer scientist? A network engineer? Have you developed a new web-based protocol? If so, we want you to sign on to a statement [PDF] explaining to the DC Circuit Court that openness and neutrality are fundamental to how the Internet was designed and how it operates today.

    • Condé Nast Names Bob Sauerberg CEO

      Condé Nast president Robert A. Sauerberg Jr. will take over as CEO effective January 2016, with current chief exec Charles Townsend to become chairman of the publishing company.

      As part of the shuffle at the top, S.I. Newhouse Jr. will assume the role of chairman emeritus.

      Sauerberg, 54, joined the company in 2005 as executive VP. Previously he held senior leadership roles at Fairchild Fashion Media, including COO and CFO, and spent 18 years with the New York Times Co., eventually rising to CFO of its magazine group.

    • 2600 Explains Eloquently How Excessive Copyright Harms Everyone

      Last week, we wrote about how the famous hacker magazine 2600 received a copyright threat letter concerning the cover of its Spring 2012 issue (which, we noted, meant that the three-year statute of limitations had passed for a copyright claim anyway). But this was even worse, because the “claim” was over some ink splotches that were in the background of an image that the threat letter claimed copyright over, and which 2600 used a tiny bit of on its cover. Except… that the splotches themselves were actually from a Finnish artist going by the name Loadus, and licensed freely for either commercial or non-commercial use.

    • Cop Invents Device That Sniffs MAC Addresses To Locate Stolen Devices

      Now, the odds are small that police will run into conflicting, duplicate addresses, but this fact makes it impossible to guarantee that tracking down a MAC address actually means tracking down a stolen device. For that reason alone, L8NT’s architecture may be changed to grab more identifying info… which will lead to more questions about the constitutionality of the device, which will act like a low-level search of a home’s electronics. Its impact will also be blunted by the information it seeks, considering not every device is assigned a MAC address and addresses are unobtainable unless they’re turned on and connected to a Wi-Fi network.

    • Nearly 4 years after raid, Dotcom loses bid to delay extradition hearing
    • Dotcom Fails in Last-Ditch Bid to Delay U.S. Extradition Hearing

      The former operators of Megaupload have failed in a last-ditch effort to delay their U.S. extradition hearing. Kim Dotcom and his associates argued for more time to prepare but the Court of Appeal said it was confident a fair hearing would be forthcoming. In response, Dotcom branded the NZ judiciary a “US owned dancing bear”.

    • Presidential Candidate Lawrence Lessig Steps Up To Assist Kim Dotcom

      Professor Lawrence Lessig has provided an expert opinion in support of Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload co-defendants. In submissions filed today in New Zealand, the Creative Commons co-founder and U.S. presidential candidate concludes that the U.S. DoJ has not made a case that would be recognized by United States federal law and be subject to the US – NZ Extradition Treaty.

    • Larry Lessig Tells New Zealand Court That DOJ’s Case Against Kim Dotcom Is A Sham

      As Kim Dotcom’s extradition case appears set to finally be heard (after many, many delays), Dotcom has brought in some interesting firepower. Presidential candidate and famed legal scholar Larry Lessig has submitted an affidavit that completely destroys the DOJ’s case. He argues not only that Dotcom’s actions do not amount to any sort of extraditable offense, but that they don’t even seem to be against US law at all. If you’ve been following the case at all, you know that under the US/New Zealand extradition treaty, copyright infringement is not an extraditable offense. That’s why the US has lumped in a bunch of questionable claims about “conspiracy” and “wire fraud.” But most of those are just repeating the infringement claims in different ways.

    • Kim Dotcom

      The position of the United States is extreme and wrong. We must resist this extremism. Aaron’s death must mean at least that.

    • Ben Carson’s Lawyer Threatens CafePress Because Ben Carson Supporters Are Creating T-Shirts Supporting Carson

      Politics and intellectual property always get weird and silly, often during Presidential election season. Following on last year’s insanity in which Hillary Clinton’s PAC tried to take down parodies on CafePress and Zazzle, presidential candidate Ben Carson has apparently decided no one should possibly be allowed to create any kind of Ben Carson merchandise, except for the Ben Carson PAC, and he’s decided to list out every possible intellectual property argument he can think of: copyright, trademark, privacy rights. I’m almost surprised he didn’t find a way to include patents too.

    • Don’t believe the Carly Fiorina hype: Here’s every major problem with her performance in the GOP debate

      It was Carly Fiorina’s night last night. In the very crowded Republican clown car full of fatuous blowhards and screaming hawks, she stood out by being able to think on her feet quickly enough to use standard lines from her well honed, road tested stump speech to good effect as if they were spontaneous answers to the question. Compared to the others she seemed sharp and well-informed and the media dubbed her the big winner.

      Fiorina has come a long way since the days of the “Demon Sheep.”

    • 5 Unbelievable Ways Rich Assholes Get To Cheat Through Life

      Some rich people don’t hoard their cash or flaunt it as a status symbol so much as they use it as a dirty green cheat code. If life was a video game, they’d be the asshole kid with the turbo controller who can’t ever lose. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to watch them have fun from the sidelines, vainly hoping we’ll get a chance to touch the Super Nintendo before Mom comes to pick us up. (“Mom” in this case means the Grim Reaper, if that wasn’t clear.)

      Nowadays, excessive riches can get you more than bigger houses and hired help. People are using it to buy stuff that really shouldn’t be buyable.

    • Having Lost The Debate On Backdooring Encryption, Intelligence Community Plans To Wait Until Next Terrorist Attack

      In other words, Litt admits that his side has lost this battle, but he doesn’t want the administration to come out totally against legislation, because, you know, if there’s an attack, then maybe the idiots in the public will finally accept the intelligence community shoving backdoors down their throat. After all, such a plan worked out pretty well with the PATRIOT Act, which took a bunch of bad and rejected ideas and rushed them into law. In fact, it’s almost amazing that the law enforcement community didn’t get backdooring encryption into the PATRIOT Act back in 2001 in the first place…

    • White House Realizes Mandating Backdoors To Encryption Isn’t Going To Happen

      Over the last few months, I’ve heard rumblings and conversations from multiple people within the Obama administration suggesting that they don’t support the FBI’s crazy push to back door all encryption. From Congress, I heard that there was nowhere near enough support for any sort of legislative backdoor mandate. Both were good things to hear, but I worried that I was still only hearing from one side, so that there could still be serious efforts saying the opposite as well. However, the Washington Post has been leaked quite a document that outlines three options that the Obama administration can take in response to the whole “going dark” question. And the good news? None of them involve mandating encryption. Basically, the key message in this document is that no one believes legislation is a realistic option right now (more on that in another post coming shortly).

    • Verizon’s Screwing New Jersey Even Harder Than Previously Believed

      We’ve previously discussed how in 1993 Verizon conned the state of New Jersey into giving the telco all manner of subsidies and tax breaks in exchange for a promise to wire the majority of the state with symmetrical fiber. Fast forward to 2015, most of New Jersey remains on aging DSL, and the state decided it would be a wonderful idea to simply let Verizon walk away from its obligations. Of course this isn’t new: Verizon’s regulatory capture allowed it to do the exact same thing in Pennsylvania, and it’s currently busy trying to dodge New York City FiOS build out requirements as well.

    • FCC: Sorry, No — Net Neutrality Does Not Violate ISPs’ First Amendment Rights

      Back when Verizon sued to overturn the FCC’s original, flimsier 2010 net neutrality rules, the telco argued that the FCC was aggressively and capriciously violating the company’s First and Fifth Amendment rights. “Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners engage in First Amendment speech,” Verizon claimed at the time. It’s an amusing claim given that the entire purpose of net neutrality is to protect the free and open distribution of content and data without incumbent ISP gatekeeper interference. Verizon ultimately won its case against the FCC — but not because of its First Amendment claim, but because the FCC tried to impose common carrier rules on ISPs before declaring they were common carriers.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Back to Benghazi: How Not to Have a Debate About US Foreign Policy

      In the 2012 presidential election, the biggest foreign policy issue was the killing of the US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens in September of that year–an incident known by its location: Benghazi. Now, as we gear up for the 2016 presidential race, it looks like the biggest international issue is going to be–Benghazi.

      The world is a big place, though you wouldn’t necessarily figure that out if you learned about it solely through electoral politics; in the debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and their running mates in 2012 (FAIR Media Advisory, 10/26/12), there were 14 questions raised about other countries, and only one of those questions (about China) had to do with anyplace outside the Middle East (broadly defined, from Pakistan to Libya). And three of the 14 questions had to do with Benghazi–as many questions as were asked about Afghanistan, where at the time the US had more than 60,000 troops engaged in a ground war.

    • VIDEO: Unbelievably clear drone footage of Damascus devastation

      Clear drone footage showing the ongoing Syrian army offensive against a rebel stronghold in Damascus.

    • Officials Claim CIA Drone War Against Syria a ‘Growing Success’

      The theory there is that if drones weren’t be launched willy-nilly at ISIS, they’d be more able to carry out major attacks, and thus the attacks are doing what they’re intended to do. Yet ISIS seems to continue to carry out major attacks across Syria on a regular basis, which makes these claimed results, like so many others, illusory.

    • Snowden And Ellsberg Hail Leak Of Drone Documents From New Whistleblower

      American whistleblowers hailed the release on Thursday of a collection of classified documents about US drone warfare as a blow on behalf of transparency and human rights.

      The documents anchored a multi-part report by the Intercept on the Defense Department assassination program in Yemen and Somalia. Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other rights groups said the report raised significant concerns about human rights violations by the US government, and called for an investigation.

    • Your Call: US Drone policy; Canada’s elections

      We’ll also talk about the new top-secret NSA documents detailing the US drone program, which were leaked to The Intercept. How are US media reporting on US drone policy? Join the conversation on the next Your Call, with Rose Aguilar and you.

    • 5 Disturbing Revelations in the New Drone Document Leak

      The above leak is a direct contradiction with President Barack Obama’s previous assertion to the American people that drone attacks have a “near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” While it’s clearly not panning out that way, the U.S. has a solution for that: automatically labeling anyone killed by a drone attack an “enemy” rather than a civilian.

      If proof emerges that one of the killed was definitely an unaffiliated civilian, the U.S. will change the designation, but the country does not seem to be trying to reclassify anyone it doesn’t have to in order to keep the civilian count low. Though it’s true that at least some of the people adjacent to suspected terrorists are probably associated with these activities and not necessarily “innocent,” the fact is that they haven’t even first been vetted as potential threats.

    • Wandering Eye: Drone assassinations, ‘Artist’s Statements of the Old Masters,’ and more

      Jeremy Scahill opens The Intercept’s big whistle-blower-driven piece on the drone assassinations with an important point: What we’re doing is extrajudicial killings. Assassinations. The U.S. has always done these (and torture too, of course), but until recently we’ve tried at least to maintain what the spy guys call “plausible deniability.” No more. Now we just renamed them “targeted killings” and claim the victims are an “imminent threat.” And we define imminent as “in the foreseeable future, possibly.” And of course we make a list. Scahill’s source is not comfortable with it: “This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them ‘baseball cards,’ assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong,” the source told Scahill. The problem is not just moral, though, it’s practical. We’re killing people who could provide useful information if they were captured instead. And we’re relying too much on “signals intelligence” (i.e. the vast data sweeps the NSA specializes in) instead of “human intelligence.” We’re doing this because it’s convenient for war fighters. Incidentally, The Intercept uses the headline “The Kill Chain.” That’s the same one City Paper used a few years back when we tried to trace drone research through and by Johns Hopkins. The idea is to bring even more convenience in the future with autonomous drones that kill without human input. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

    • Colombia’s Bittersweet Peace Deal

      The Colombian government and the continent’s mightiest and longest-surviving guerrilla army, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are set to finalize a bittersweet peace agreement next spring with no victors, millions of victims, and just enough justice to basically turn a page on decades of unrelenting bloodletting.

    • Canada will bow out of the air war in Iraq and Syria. But will the Liberals really end the combat mission?

      Of all the foreign problems facing prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau, the war in Syria and Iraq remains the most nettlesome.

      It is tied to almost everything.

      The Syrian refugee crisis that dominates headlines in Europe — and that made its way into the Canadian election campaign — is a direct result of that war.

      Canada’s fraught relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Ukraine is complicated by Moscow’s direct diplomatic and military involvement in Syria.

    • Tony Blair apologises for Iraq War mistakes and accepts invasion had part to play in rise of Islamic State

      Tony Blair has apologised for some of the mistakes that were made during the Iraq War, and says he recognises “elements of truth” behind opinion that the invasion caused the rise of Isil.

      In a candid interview with CNN, the former prime minister was challenged by US political broadcaster Fareed Zakar who accused Blair of being George Bush’s ‘poodle’ over the conflict.

    • Donald Trump’s baseless claim that the Bush White House tried to ‘silence’ his Iraq War opposition in 2003

      At The Fact Checker, we place the burden of proof on the speaker. Trump has not responded to repeated requests by us or other media outlets for proof of his early opposition to the invasion.

      Military action began on March 20, 2003. An extensive review of 2003 news coverage prior to March 20 surfaced just two references of Trump and his views on the invasion, as BuzzFeed News found during the GOP debate. The Huffington Post also wrote an analysis of Trump’s Iraq claims during the GOP debate, and again after Trump’s claims in October.

    • Veterans for Bernie Sanders: Why the anti-war candidate is so beloved by former soldiers

      When then-freshman Vermont Congressman Bernie Sanders first arrived in Washington, D.C., he didn’t first tend to the great social democratic causes that he spent his life working on: a national living wage, health care for all, or expanding labor unions.

      Rather, the very first bill he introduced was H.R. 695 – the Guard and Reserve Family Protection Act of 1991. The purpose of the bill was to make sure that reserve and National Guard soldiers who were deployed to serve in the Gulf War were entitled to any pay they may have missed as a result of going to war, to ensure that their deployment wages were equal to their civilian wages.

    • TalkTalk hires BAE Systems to investigate cyber attack

      British broadband provider TalkTalk said on Sunday it had hired defense company BAE Systems to investigate a cyber attack that may have led to the theft of personal data from its more than 4 million customers.

    • Anderson Cooper: Opposing Illegal CIA Wars Is Unelectable

      A key reason that the US has so many wars is that big US media have a strong pro-war, pro-Empire bias.

    • Indonesia: 50 Years After the Coup and the CIA Sponsored Terrorist Massacre. The Ruin of Indonesian Society

      Last year, I stopped travelling to Indonesia. I simply did… I just could not bear being there, anymore. It was making me unwell. I felt psychologically and physically sick.

      Indonesia has matured into perhaps the most corrupt country on Earth, and possibly into the most indoctrinated and compassionless place anywhere under the sun. Here, even the victims were not aware of their own conditions anymore. The victims felt shame, while the mass murderers were proudly bragging about all those horrendous killings and rapes they had committed. Genocidal cadres are all over the government.


      After the 1965 coup backed by the US, Australia and Europe, some 2-3 million Indonesians died, in fact were slaughtered mercilessly in an unbridled orgy of terror: teachers, intellectuals, artists, unionists, and Communists vanished. The US Embassy in Jakarta provided a detailed list of those who were supposed to be liquidated. The army, which was generously paid by the West and backed by the countless brainwashed religious cadres of all faiths, showed unprecedented zeal, killing and imprisoning almost everyone capable of thinking. Books were burned and film studios and theatres closed down.

    • A CIA-Trained Tibetan Freedom Fighter’s Undying Hope for Freedom

      Ten years later, after he had completed his studies in Mussoorie in 1969, Tunduk volunteered for a secretive all-Tibetan unit in the Indian army called Establishment 22, which the U.S. CIA helped stand up and train when China attacked India in the 1962 Sino-Indian War. Tunduk went through six months of basic training, which included jump training taught by CIA instructors, whom Tunduk remembered as “blond and tall.”


      The Chinese soldiers tied Tunduk’s father’s arms and legs behind his back, beat him, and then shot him in the head. Next, they painted a target in charcoal on Tunduk’s mother’s chest, suspended her by her arms from two wood poles, and used her for target practice, pumping her body with bullets long after she was dead.

    • ‘Operation Ajax’ Illustrates How the CIA Destroyed Democracy in Iran

      Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, was the farthest thing from a Communist, but painting him as reliant on Communist support was pivotal to turning public support against him and to building support at home in the US for his overthrow. But to what end? Why did the US turn from a supporter of Iranian democracy under President Truman, to plotting its destruction and imposing a dictatorship under President Eisenhower? Was it simply a paranoid (and wholly inaccurate) fear of Communism? Was it the ambitious, power-seeking aspirations of US intelligence agencies, keen on building their power-base and budgets by engineering the perception of fake threats to the US? Was it US corporate desire to control Iranian oil, in the face of efforts by Iran’s democratic government to nationalize its own resources (long plundered by western countries)?

    • UW Human Rights Center will sue CIA for stonewalling information request on assassinations

      A University of Washington human rights project is suing the Central Intelligence Agency for refusing to declassify and turn over documents relating to the U.S. role in El Salvador’s civil war and involvement in massacres by a retired Salvadorian colonel who was for a time the favorite of Americans.

    • US law student sues CIA over Salvadoran civil war documents
    • UW law student sues CIA over data on Salvadoran Army officer
    • Theft of Files Relating to Lawsuit about CIA’s Support of Human Rights Violations in El Salvador
    • Five Historical Reasons to Believe the CIA Could Have Been Behind the Break-In at UW

      We’re not sure how a question can be true or false, but to suggest that it’s implausible for the CIA to have burgled a professor’s office is patently ridiculous. This is an agency that, for nearly seventy years, has drugged, kidnapped, tortured, assassinated, burgled and bungled its way through history, banking heavily on the fact that clandestine operations, by definition, lack strong oversight.

    • Confidential files on El Salvador human rights stolen after legal action against CIA
    • Research files on El Salvador stolen from human rights group suing CIA over El Salvador
    • Files Incriminating CIA Stolen From Center For Human Rights Office, Break-In Happened During CIA Head’s Visit
    • Obscure Human Rights Professor Thinks The CIA Probably Broke Into Her Office And Stole Hard Drive
    • Professor Who Sued CIA Finds Office Burglarized, Data Stolen
    • Files for El Salvador lawsuit against CIA stolen from university office
    • US NGO researching El Salvador abuses has files stolen

      The Centre for Human Rights at the University of Washington said in a statement published on its website that the break-in could have been in retaliation for its work, pointing out a number of peculiarities about the incident.

    • Wandering Eye: The sample behind Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling,’ more bad news for the DC poor, and more

      On Wednesday, the Stranger posted a fascinating blog titled, “Two Weeks After It Sued the CIA, Data Is Stolen from the University of Washington’s Center for Human Rights.” In short, the UWCHR filed a lawsuit against the CIA looking for information about war crimes committed in El Salvador (earlier in the month, the Stranger published “The University of Washington Is Taking the CIA to Court: Seeking Justice for Survivors of a Massacre in El Salvador, the Center for Human Rights Is Suing the Agency Over Withholding Public Records,” by Ansel Herz) and then last weekend, someone broke into the Center For Human Rights’ director’s office and stole her desktop and a hard drive containing information pertaining to this case. On top of the whole thing just looking sketchy as hell, UWCHR pointed out that there was no forcible entry and that there were plenty of other computers in the building to steal and that this theft “parallels between this incident and attacks Salvadoran human rights organizations have experienced in recent years.” Herz asked the CIA if they had anything to do with the theft, and they denied it. Herz also pointed out that the CIA “is an agency that assassinates people with drones, tortured prisoners, has helped to carry out bloody coup d’etats, and whose analysts were accused of hacking and stealing the data of senators who were investigating the agency just last year.” (Brandon Soderberg)

    • ACLU demands CIA disclose drone program details after document leak

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pressed ahead on Monday with a lawsuit to compel the CIA to turn over basic details about the US program of clandestine drone warfare, a week after startling contours of the program emerged in a new leak by an anonymous intelligence source.

      The ACLU lawsuit seeks summary data from the CIA on drone strikes, including the locations and dates of strikes, the number of people killed and their identities or status. The ACLU also is seeking memos describing the legal reasoning underpinning the drone program.

    • Drone Disclosures, Official and Not

      As readers of this blog already know, last week The Intercept published a series of fascinating stories about the US drone campaign. The stories, and the official documents that accompany them, supply new details about the way the government chooses its targets, the way drone strikes are authorized, the way the government assesses civilian casualties, and the way the government judges the success or failure of individual strikes.

    • CIA pressed to disclose secret drone docs
    • Activist group to sue CIA over drone program

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has lodged a lawsuit compelling the CIA to turn over basic details about US drone strikes.

      The lawsuit was filed Monday a week after shocking contours of the program were revealed by an anonymous intelligence source.

    • CIA Pressured to Release Drone Strike Data in Fresh Lawsuit

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is pressing ahead with a lawsuit calling on the CIA to release crucial information about the US’ drone warfare program, amid calls for greater transparency into the intelligence agency’s actions.

    • US Advocacy Group Seeks CIA Video Tapes of Lethal Drone Strikes Released

      Advocacy group Consumers For Peace.org Director Nick Mottern claims that the videos of drone strikes launched by the US government against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria should be released to the public.

    • ACLU Files New Appeal in Drone Lawsuit

      The Central Intelligence Agency is under renewed legal pressure to release “thousands” of records pertaining to its international drone war, following an appeal filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties in Washington, D.C. The motion comes just days after The Intercept published an eight-part series based on cache of secret documents detailing the U.S. military’s parallel reliance on unmanned airstrikes in the war on terror.

    • Drone Papers Aftermath: ACLU Demands Secret Program Data

      The ACLU on Monday filed an appeal brief demanding that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) hand over data on its secretive global drone program, including the identities of people killed by airstrikes carried out by the U.S. military in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

    • ACLU demands CIA disclose details on drone program after document leak

      The American Civil Liberties Union is pressing forward with a lawsuit against the CIA demanding the agency turn over details about the U.S. drone program after a massive document leak revealed startling details about how targets are chosen and the number of civilians that have been accidentally struck.

    • Mothers of CIA officers killed in Benghazi condemn use of sons’ deaths for political gain

      The mothers have condemned as “callous” a Republican-led advert using their sons’ legacies to try to destroy Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign

    • Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala, Part 2

      Guatemala’s current situation and tragic history can be traced back to the CIA-led coup in 1954 that ousted the democratically elected government of President Jacobo Arbenz and installed the military dictator Carlos Armas. Arbenz was an advocate for land reform and was loved by the poor. The wealthy hated him. And when the CIA couldn’t bribe him, they ousted him in a most humiliating way. Even after he went into exile, the agency used constant disinformation to smear him in every way imaginable until his strange death in a bathtub in 1971.

    • CIA Nemesis Allende Elected In Chile

      Salvador Allende was elected Chile’s president on 24th October, 1970.

      An avowed Marxist, and the first socialist leader of the South American country, Allende’s election went on to trigger one of the most controversial, tragic periods in Chile’s history.

      The US response to Allende’s election revealed the extent to which the North American superpower was willing to get involved in South American politics. To this day, documents are still classified about what actions the White House sanctioned in Chile as a means to remove Allende.


      Democratically elected, Allende’s government was targeted by the United State’s for its socialist policies. Its successor, the dictatorship of Pinochet, was much more conservative, and allowed US investment back into Chile. It was also notorious for its brutal human rights violations.

    • 48 Years Since Che Guevara’s Execution by the CIA

      Guevara’s eyes were famously opened to the harsh reality of capitalism for those born less privileged than him when, as a medical student in his early 20s, he hopped on a motorcycle and went on a tour of South America. He found disease, destitution and illiteracy – along with the sort of compassion and generosity that appears to be inversely related to the amount of wealth one possess. From that point on, he labored to uplift the working class from Cuba to Guatemala to the Congo. And, although his death was premature, his legacy continues to serve as an inspiration to revolutionaries around the world today.

    • CIA chief’s emails expose Pakistan’s terror tactics in India

      The Wikileaks’ latest exposé on CIA Director John Brennan’s private emails reveals the role of Pakistan’s use of militant proxies for creating terror in India.

    • CIA Interventions in Syria: A Partial Timeline

      This partial timeline provides evidence that the U.S. government and Obama in particular bear a significant responsibility for the Syrian war and the results of that war. Obama approved elements of CIA plans that go back over 65 years. The CIA meddling is distinct from the Pentagon’s failed plan to train moderate rebels, not covered in this timeline.

    • CIA-Armed Rebels March On Assad Homeland

      Yesterday, two large rebel umbrella groups—Jaysh al-Fateh (Army of Conquest), a large consortium of Islamists which includes the official Syrian al-Qaeda franchise, and the Free Syrian Army, an admittedly catchall category but one that includes 39 CIA-vetted TOW recipients—announced a major counteroffensive.

    • Syria: Archbishop voices concern over CIA support for anti-Assad rebels

      Syrian Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo says he was disturbed to hear US Senator John McCain protesting that the Russians are not bombing the positions of the Islamic State, “but rather the anti-Assad rebels trained by the CIA.”

    • Iranians, Cubans and CIA-backed rebels: US media jumps on muddled Syria reports

      Citing activists and anonymous government sources, US media outlets claim that Russian airstrikes are deliberately targeting the US-backed rebels, as Iranian and even Cuban troops are streaming into Syria.

    • The CIA is supplying Syrian rebels with weapons to use against Russia

      The decision to help the rebels comes after growing frustration by the US with Russia, which has entered the war in support of Assad. While the US and Russia both agree that ISIS should be eradicated, the two countries do not agree on who should be in power in Syria.

    • Russian air strikes hit CIA-trained rebels, commander says

      Two Russian air strikes in Syria on Thursday hit a training camp operated by a rebel group that received military training from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, its commander said.

    • CIA Rebrands ‘Moderate’ Rebels: Now They’re the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’!
    • McCain accuses Russia of attacking CIA-backed Syrian rebels

      Russia on Thursday escalated its military engagement in Syria, with warplanes carrying out a second day of heavy airstrikes in the wartorn country, as U.S. critics hurled fresh accusations at Vladimir Putin’s intentions in the region.

      Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said that Russia is not focused on bombing Islamic State targets, and accused the country of targeting CIA-backed rebels seeking to topple Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    • USA draws a line on protecting CIA-backed rebels in Syria

      Moscow says it targets only banned terrorist groups in Syria, primarily Islamic State.

    • Asio chief defied Gough Whitlam’s order to cut ties with the CIA in 1974

      The chief of Australia’s domestic spy agency, Asio, defied a direct order from then Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam in 1974 to sever all ties with America’s Central Intelligence Agency.

      Whitlam – hostile to US spy bases in Australia and angy with the CIA’s undermining of leftwing administrations, including Chile’s Allende government in 1973 – effectively forced the Washington-Canberra intelligence relationship underground until the dismissal of his government in late 1975.

      The decision by the director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Peter Barbour, to ignore Whitlam’s directive is revealed in the latest volume of Asio’s official history by historian and former army officer John Blaxland.

    • America enabled radical Islam: How the CIA, George W. Bush and many others helped create ISIS

      Since 1980, the United States has intervened in the affairs of fourteen Muslim countries, at worst invading or bombing them. They are (in chronological order) Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosovo, Yemen, Pakistan, and now Syria. Latterly these efforts have been in the name of the War on Terror and the attempt to curb Islamic extremism.

      Yet for centuries Western countries have sought to harness the power of radical Islam to serve the interests of their own foreign policy. In the case of Britain, this dates back to the days of the Ottoman Empire; in more recent times, the US/UK alliance first courted, then turned against, Islamists in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. In my view, the policies of the United States and Britain—which see them supporting and arming a variety of groups for short-term military, political, or diplomatic advantage—have directly contributed to the rise of IS.

    • “Every president has been manipulated by national security officials”: David Talbot exposes America’s “deep state”

      This year’s best spy thriller isn’t fiction – it’s history. David Talbot’s previous book, the bestseller “Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years” explored Robert F. Kennedy’s search for the truth following his brother’s murder. His new work, “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government,” zooms out from JFK’s murder to investigate the rise of the shadowy network that Talbot holds ultimately responsible for the president’s assassination.

      This isn’t merely a whodunit story, though. Talbot’s ultimate goal is exploring how the rise of the “deep state” has impacted the trajectory of America, and given our nation’s vast influence, the rest of the planet. “To thoroughly and honestly analyze [former CIA director] Allen Dulles’s legacy is to analyze the current state of national security in America and how it undermines democracy,” Talbot told Salon. “To really grapple with what is in my book is not just to grapple with history. It is to grapple with our current problems.”

    • US must explain CIA visits to red villages

      During the past few years, CIA operatives stationed in Thailand were frequently visiting the red villages in the North and Northeast of Thailand. Why?

    • Find, Fix, Finish: The Drone Papers

      Soon after he was elected president, Barack Obama was strongly urged by Michael Hayden, the outgoing CIA director, and his new top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, to adopt the way of the scalpel — small footprint counterterrorism operations and drone strikes. In one briefing, Hayden bluntly told Obama that covert action was the only way to confront al Qaeda and other terrorist groups plotting attacks against the U.S.

    • Former FBI, CIA officials encourage residents to ‘ask the hard questions’

      “9/11 could have been prevented and there really is not just one way, there’s probably at least half a dozen ways 9/11 could have been prevented,” Rowley said. “For starters, the CIA had been tracking two of the hijackers since they met in Kuala Lumpur two years before 9/11. And after all these years we still don’t know the answer to that main question. Why was this information not shared?”

    • Whistleblower, former CIA analyst urge questioning of candidates’ foreign policy views

      Coleen Rowley and Ray McGovern spoke to a full conference room at University Book & Supply as part of a nine-city Iowa tour dubbed “The Truth Shall Make You Free,” sponsored by the state’s three chapters of Veterans for Peace and 31 other organizations. They also spoke at the Waterloo Center for the Arts on Saturday.

    • John McAfee: US gov’t hack by China is an American nightmare — and the decline of an empire

      Our Founding Fathers feared democracy. From these fears, and in order to form a more perfect union, the Constitution and our Republic were born. This revolution in government was adopted in the wake of a tremendous fight for independence. Against all odds, our country was born out of a state of oppression and limited personal freedom. There are few points in history that exhibit such a level of individual responsibility and absolute freedom among the common man as there were during this Constitutional period.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Take that CIA and James Bond: Asterix loves Julian Assange!

      The US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has accused Australian Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the controversial anti-secrecy venture, of “malicious crime” in the leak of hacked emails of its director John Brennan. As the cult figure wanted in Sweden for questioning on a rape accusation, he says he is innocent. As he fights extradition from Ecuador’s diplomatically immune embassy in the UK, fiction lovers would logically expect James Bond to show up from somewhere in Her Majesty’s name.

    • Activists target Obama’s ‘Cheneyesque’ CIA director

      The CIA director is a prime target of attacks by civil libertarians and others concerned about privacy, torture and drone attacks.

    • WikiLeaks Releases Second Batch From CIA Boss John Brennan’s Email

      WikiLeaks released two more documents and a list of contacts from CIA Director John Brennan’s personal email account on Thursday — and again the material was neither classified nor revelatory.

      Six other documents were released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday, days after an anonymous hacker told the New York Post that he had gained access to Brennan’s AOL account. The account was also used by other members of the Brennan family.

    • FBI, Secret Service probe hack of CIA chief’s private emails

      The FBI and U.S. Secret Service have opened criminal inquiries into the hacking of a private email account used by CIA Director John Brennan and his family, the FBI said on Thursday.

      The investigations followed the posting on social media earlier this week by the hackers of data stolen from an AOL account. Intelligence officials said the account was used by Brennan and his family, but was not used to transmit or store government secrets.

    • Why Does Anyone Believe the CIA Chief’s Hackers Are Teens?

      Lots of headlines and news accounts are reporting that the people that hacked the AOL email account of CIA Director John Brennan are high-schoolers or teens, but the Observer could find little reporting on any effort to verify their ages.

    • Second batch of emails hacked from CIA director’s account reveals he warned of major flaws in US strategy for Afghanistan
    • ‘They can’t track us down’ – hackers who cracked CIA Director Brennan’s email to RT

      Part of a mysterious group of young hackers who stole confidential and work-related information from CIA Director John Brennan have spoken to RT, revealing why they targeted this senior official and what they’ve got planned for the future.

      The resulting embarrassment caused by the group who are believed to be in their early 20s, highlights not only the poor email security of a number of senior intelligence officials in the US, but also the secrets within – such as the security clearance application Brennan submitted to the CIA on enrollment, containing the most confidential information any person could wish to protect.

    • Secrecy and Hillary Clinton

      Over-classification of documents is the weapon of choice wielded by the U.S. government to punish whistleblowers and keep the American people in the dark about its actions around the world. But the well-connected, like Hillary Clinton, get special forbearance, notes Diane Roark.

    • This 19th-Century Invention Could Keep You From Being Hacked

      If the CIA’s Director John Brennan can’t keep his emails private, who can? Sadly, the fact that email and instant messaging are far more convenient than communicating via papers in envelopes or by actually talking on the phone, or (God forbid) face to face, these technologies are far more insecure. Could it be that the old ways protected both secrecy and privacy far better than what we have now?

    • Digital Dissidents

      Lauded as heroes by some, denounced as traitors by others, they’re the “digital dissidents” whose revelations have made headlines around the world.

      “Criticise me, hate me, but think about what matters in the issues. Right? Think about the world you want to live in.” Edward Snowden

      The decision by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to reveal covert US surveillance programs exposed the massive capabilities of the US spy agency to monitor communications around the globe.

    • WikiLeaks posts data from CIA director’s email account

      CIA director John Brennan reportedly used his AOL account to store possibly classified — or, at very least, sensitive — materials.

    • Wikileaks Doxxes CIA Chief’s Wife and Daughters

      It will go down as one of Wikileaks’ more astonishing achievements that it managed to turn the director of the CIA—a man who some have vilified as the architect of the drone wars and an endorser of torture—into a sympathetic character.

    • What We Learned From the CIA Director’s WikiLeaked Emails

      WikiLeaks has vowed to release what will likely be even more tedious personal information in the coming days.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • “World in Danger: Fukushima” November 18th

      Three molten nuclear reactor cores are still missing and the radioactive contamination that this 300 ton mass of ‘corium’ continues to generate & release shows no signs of abating, in fact is increasing.

    • Former Koch Industries Official Says He Ghostwrote Letters On Behalf of Congressmen [Ed: older]

      The LinkedIn profile of a former officer of the company lends credibility to that argument. In it, he boasts that as part of the Koch Industries’ communication team, he helped write opinion columns and letters that were signed by members of Congress.

      Richard Tucker, a former communications manager at Koch Industries from August 2010 thro
      ugh March 2012, wrote in his LinkedIn profile that he was responsible for “op-eds and letters to the editor that were signed by company leaders, members of congress and citizen activists.” Tucker, a writer and editor for a number of conservative websites, said he also wrote “regular blog posts for company employees to help explain important Washington policy debates” and was a member of the “crisis communication team that produced swift responses to negative press coverage.”

    • Chinese-built reactor at Bradwell could have ‘major impact’ on estuary

      Conservation charities have expressed alarm at plans for a Chinese-built nuclear power station in Essex, with one saying the plant could have “major impacts” on the estuary location, a haven for birds and marine life.

      The new reactor in Bradwell, on the heavily protected Blackwater estuary, east of Chelmsford, could be confirmed this week during a state visit to Britain by China’s president, Xi Jinping.

      The conservation concerns come on top of worries over the security implications of Chinese involvement in the UK nuclear industry.

  • Finance

    • Screw meritocracy: reward the lazy and stupid

      It is time to admit the truth: meritocracy is BS. What we really have is a system run by people who create arbitrary measures of worthiness to perpetuate a status quo, a power structure that benefits them. Getting rid of the system and replacing it with one in which everyone’s unique gifts are valued equally — that would be meritocratic.

    • F*** a Wage, Take Over the Business: A How-To with Economist Richard Wolff

      In this interview, we discuss wages, a pertinent current topic with the ongoing struggle for $15/hr, stagnating worker incomes, and what will be TPP’s further attack on wages in the United States. More importantly, what began as a discussion of wages quickly developed into a much broader critique of the current system’s political economy, and a way to fundamentally alter the way we produce, distribute, and consume. It is not enough to bargain with capitalists. We must instead look to how workers can take over the means of production and employ them for the benefit and wellbeing of all.

    • Wealth therapy is a sick joke: Meet the 1 percenters finding solace in wealth redistribution

      In a political and economic system seemingly tailor-made for the 1 percent, backlash against “wealth therapy” — the trend of moneyed Americans seeking counsel through their Occupy-induced feeling of shame and isolation — is well-placed. While the top 0.1 percent of families in the United States possess as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, money psychologist Jamie Traege-Muney moaned to The Guardian that the movement wrongly “singled out the 1 percent and painted them globally as something negative.”

      But a growing cadre of this statistical owning class are now crafting a healthier relationship to the rabble at their doorstep. Responding to Occupy and other movement moments, young people with wealth are organizing the resources of their peers and families to level the playing field — and support one another in the process.

    • Dying to work for Amazon: Where’s the outrage for the exploited, vulnerable temp workers who make Bezos’s empire run?

      Earlier this week, Amazon dragged itself back into the news with a retort to the New York Times over the paper’s scorching coverage: The two-months later response reminded people how devastating the Times’ story on the company’s white-collar workforce had been. That piece that chronicled a demoralized, overworked office staff in painful detail was surely revisited by many readers.

      But a new story about the way Amazon treats workers lower down the food chain is even more poignant: “The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp,” in the Huffington Post, spends most of its time on one 29-year-old man who died while toiling in a Virginia “fulfillment center.” The story’s detailed look at the life of Jeff Lockhart Jr. helps humanize the piece. But overall, what the rigorously reported and sharply written story exposes is a larger crisis among low-wage workers: One that’s being very profitably exploited by temp companies.

      The majority of the story concerns Lockhart, who came in as an Amazon temp after being laid off at a building supply store. A burly, 300-pound guy who married his high school sweetheart – they had three children between them – he worked as a “picker,” taking orders from a handheld scanner. He was fast and good. The constant labor at the speeds required, perhaps, was not especially healthy for a man of his size. One winter morning about 2 a.m., he went to eat “lunch” in his car, called his wife, and went back to work. “Less than an hour later,” reporter Dave Jamieson writes, “a worker found Jeff on the third floor. He had collapsed and was lying unconscious in aisle A-215, beneath shelves stocked with Tupperware and heating pads.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • O’Reilly Now Denies He Compared Black Lives Matter To Nazis

      BILL O’REILLY: “Bill, I disagree with your comparison of Black Lives Matter to American Nazis.” [I] did not make that comparison, Talli. Didn’t make it. I asked if the Republican group — if a Republican group — embraced a radical group like Stormfront, would that be acceptable? In light of the Democrats not having a problem with Black Lives Matter? It’s all about radicalism.

    • Ouch! Megyn Kelly has no time for Jeb Bush: Fox News anchor dismisses him on 9/11 and Trump

      Jeb Bush has evidently never seen the memo given to George W. Bush in August 2001 about Osama bin Laden’s determination to attack the United States and perhaps hijack airplanes.

      He went on Fox News last night to criticize Hillary Clinton over #Benghazi, but Megyn Kelly wanted to know why it was right to criticize Clinton for the deaths in Libya, but not his brother for the deaths on September 11. He insisted there was no double standard.

      “Not at all because if someone had evidence that there was a pending attack, there was — a lot of investigations after 9/11, if there was evidence that there was an attack that was pending and no one acted, of course there were have been criticism, but that’s not the case.”

  • Censorship

    • Singaporean teen vlogger Amos Yee says he and Joshua Wong are ‘completely different’

      Singaporean teenage vlogger Amos Yee has said that he and Scholarism convenor Joshua Wong are completely different, to which Wong responded by saying that Yee was braver than himself. The comments came after an article on Fusion featured the pair and named them as examples of “a new generation of teen activists who are shaking up politics in Asia”.

    • COMMENT: Setting the bar on acceptable speech

      What would you show your in-laws? A doodle of Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher in a compromising position, perhaps? Or maybe not, as Justice Tay Yong Kwang raised just such a scenario in court recently. When one of teen blogger Amos Yee’s lawyers argued that the drawing was not obscene because it did not contain any genitalia, Tay’s response was that an image need not be explicit to be obscene, and that it was unlikely a young man visiting his girlfriend’s parents would show his prospective in-laws such an image.

    • Curbing ‘slash and burn’ teen bloggers [Ed: The mouthpiece of the Singapore regime]
    • Hong Kong’s distinct advantage is freedom, but for how long?

      He was born and raised in Hong Kong, has worked in Hong Kong, the Mainland and the United States, and is currently working in Singapore at a top-notch multinational corporation.

      According to Kwok, many expatriates in Singapore (including himself) share this sentiment: “Singapore is a nice place for work but it can hardly be our home.”

      But in the present day, is Hong Kong much better? The factors that have historically made Hong Kong such a stellar success include its positioning as an international city; its high safety standards; the quality of its workforce; its trusted systems and institutions; and a simple tax regime. But these advantages are fading and Singapore has outpaced Hong Kong in almost all of them. Even local tycoon Li Ka-shing has reportedly drawn up a “Plan B” to move at least part of his empire out of Hong Kong, and has asked Hong Kong to learn from Singapore.

    • Oxford University in censorship row as police seize copies of ‘offensive’ student magazine

      Oxford University is embroiled in a censorship row after police confiscated 150 copies of a controversial student magazine.

      The officers were called by student union leaders who claimed the No Offence magazine might upset rape victims and people from ethnic minorities.

      Editor Jacob Williams said he was prevented from distributing the magazines. He feared being arrested as Thames Valley Police decided whether he had committed a crime, but they have now decided that no further action will be taken.

    • Like oil and water, censorship and writers festivals don’t mix

      Warning not to hold sessions dedicated to honouring the victims of the mass killings of 1965 accompanied issuing of festival permit.

    • Censorship pressure is on: Writers Festival cancels sessions on 1965 killings

      Less than a week before the festival kicks off, organizers for the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) were forced to cancel a series of events discussing Indonesia’s controversial 1965 killings.

    • Netizen Report: Uganda Vows to Step Up Online Censorship

      A series of recent stories on Internet policy in Uganda paints a grim picture of the online-speech environment in the country. On October 6, Internal Affairs Minister James Baba announced plans to enforce new regulations governing the use of social media for Ugandans. Little more is known about the regulations at present, but the bill likely bodes poorly for Uganda’s tense speech environment. Advocates at Unwanted Witness, a local human rights and free expression organization, worry that the law will compound the chilling effects of already-existing cyber laws in the country such as the Computer Misuse Act, the Anti-Pornography law and the Communications Act.

    • Uber CEO accuses Chinese messaging app WeChat of censorship

      Chief executive Travis Kalanick claimed messaging app WeChat, whose owners invest in Uber rival Didi Kuaidi, blocks Uber-related news

    • Ukraine’s New Banned Websites Registry: Security Measure or Censorship Tool?

      When Ukraine’s Interior Minister announced the initiative to form a new cyberpolice unit on October 11, the focus of the media coverage—and of Minister Avakov’s statement—was very much on fighting online crime and beefing up the information security practices of the Ukrainian government. The launch was touted as successful, with over three thousand Ukrainians applying to join the cyberpolice force in the first 24 hours after the announcement. But amid the robust response to plans for the cybercrime unit, an arguably less popular element of the initiative flew under many Ukrainians’ radars.

    • Yemen rebels using Canadian software to censor Internet, report finds

      A Canadian software company is helping Yemen’s Houthi rebels expand the country’s Internet censorship regime in the midst of a bloody civil war, according to a new report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

    • Researchers Accuse Canadian Internet Company of Helping Yemen Censor the Web

      The Yemeni civil war, which has killed more than 5,400 people in seven months, has been fought not only on the streets, but online as well.

      Houthi rebels, who have forced the government into exile, have been using technology provided by Canadian internet-filtering company Netsweeper to indiscriminately censor large swaths of the internet critical of the rebel group, according to new research.

    • Canadian Internet-filtering company accused of aiding censorship in war-torn Yemen

      Researchers at the Citizen Lab, an Internet-monitoring project at the Munk School of Global Affairs, say technology sold by Waterloo-based Netsweeper Inc. is increasingly being used to restrict access to websites on Yemen’s state-owned internet service provider, YemenNet.

    • ‘Liberal academics let censorship happen’
    • New research shows Twitter drastically under-reports its censorship

      Twitter “radically under-reports” censorship by Turkey, one of the world’s most prolific Internet censors, according to new research from the Association of Computing Machinery.

      Rocked by domestic and international unrest as well as an increasingly authoritarian government, Turkey’s government has in recent years frequently turned to mass censorship as an answer to unsolved political problems.

    • Coalition calls on Turkey to protect press freedom

      Following the conclusion of an Oct. 19 to 21, 2015 joint international emergency press freedom mission to Turkey, representatives of participating international, regional and local groups dedicated to press freedom and free expression find that pressure on journalists operating in Turkey has severely escalated in the period between parliamentary elections held June 7 and the upcoming elections.

    • Crackdown on media increases with new detentions, attacks, censorship, report says
    • Satellite operator’s political censorship hurts Turkey’s image, warn diplomats

      Former ambassadors and prominent politicians have warned against satellite operator Türksat AS’s censorship of Bugün TV, Kanaltürk, Samanyolu TV, S Haber, Mehtap TV, Irmak TV and Yumurcak TV, citing negative implications for the country’s image abroad, as well as violations of international law.

    • Court creates ‘preventive censorship’ to halt Nokta publication of AK Party meeting minutes
    • Censorship looms amid rise of Hindu nationalism in India

      In the last few weeks, at least 40 Indian writers have returned top literary prizes in protest of what they call a “climate of intolerance”. Novelists, poets and playwrights say that since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party came to power with the election of Prime Minister Modi, the country has seen a rise in Hindu nationalism that has led to less freedom of speech and respect for secular rights. Writer Sonia Faleiro, and Wendy Doniger, whose book on Hindus was withdrawn from publication in India, join us to discuss the current climate in India.

    • Egypt’s Censorship Authority questions Morgan Freeman’s presence in Egypt

      Egypt’s Censorship Authority contacted the Egypt’s National Security Agency asking to clarify the legal status of the Story of God crew’s presence in Cairo.

      The film is produced by National Geographic Channel with renowned American actor Morgan Freeman as its executive producer and host.

    • PNG government accused of censorship as it moves to crack down on social media dissent

      Papua New Guinea’s government is preparing to crack down on people who use social media sites to criticise politicians.

    • Book Banning in… New Jersey?

      It turns out that some people decided to celebrate the end of Banned Books Week at the beginning of this month by… well, trying to remove books from schools.

      We saw some two cases in New Jersey that demonstrated, once again, that some parents and administrators think the way to deal with literature that some find offensive is to get it out of the schools as fast as possible.

    • Voluntary Practices and Rights Protection Mechanisms: Whitewashing Censorship at ICANN

      Perhaps the toughest challenge facing any putatively multi-stakeholder governance process is its capture by vested interests. ICANN is a textbook illustration of this. Ever since its formation, public interest advocates have been engaged in a struggle to assert their influence within ICANN against an onslaught of intellectual property lobbyists, intent on stacking every committee and process with their own trademark, copyright and patent lawyers.

      IP owners have attempted to subvert the ICANN policy process by introducing vague language into ICANN’s contracts and then seeking to reinterpret them as mandates for draconian IP enforcement without court supervision. A key event was the introduction of a 2013 revision to ICANN’s agreement with registrars, that requires them to take unspecified enforcement measures against those who “abuse” domain names. This has led to demands from copyright and pharma interests that registrars cancel domain names allegedly used to host or sell allegedly infringing content, side-stepping the small issue of such allegations actually being reviewed by a court.

    • Portugal’s journalists under pressure from Angolan money

      In their search to invest their oil and diamond money in Europe, the Angolan oligarchy has bought strategic positions in the Portuguese media in recent years — a bid to gain prestige while silencing news concerning endemic corruption and human rights violations of the regime headed by José Eduardo dos Santos for the past 36 years

    • Internet censorship in Russia

      Russia has already blocked over 10,000 internet sites, describing them as propaganda for terrorism or pornography. But pages critical of the Kremlin have also been “deleted”.

    • South Africa’s “biggest protests since apartheid”

      South Africa’s government seeks to ban a hashtag as thousands of students protest about fees

    • Sloppy U.N. Cyberviolence Report Uses Damsels in Digital Distress to Cheer Censorship

      Why did the U.N. feel justified in recommending such illiberal censorship policies while providing such shoddy evidence to back their claims?

    • Joking About Syria on Venmo Will Get You in Trouble With Security

      When told at the wrong place at the wrong time, certain jokes can get you into big trouble. Jokes about sex at work. Jokes about bombs in an airport. And now: jokes about government conspiracies on Venmo.

    • Don’t Joke About Syria on Venmo Unless You Want to Get Flagged
    • Venmo investigates joke payment that mentions Syria
    • The Words That Will Get You in Trouble on Venmo
    • You probably shouldn’t crack jokes about Syria when you’re making a Venmo payment
    • Don’t Joke Around When Sending Venmo Payments
    • Artist Ai Weiwei banned from using Lego to build Australian artwork

      Chinese artist says toy company told him it ‘cannot approve the use of Legos for political works’ ahead of exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria

    • How free is the press in Germany?

      The Press Freedom Index 2015, published by Reporters Without Borders, ranks Germany 12th in terms of press freedom. The working environment for journalists is sound, according to their report. However, journalists researching far-right political issues are reported to be monitored by the federal government. If the data storage law is passed, that could push down Germany’s future ranking on the Press Freedom Index.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Talking Tough to Turkey

      When suicide bombers killed at least 97 people at a rally of pro-Kurdish activists and civic groups advocating peace between the Turkish government and the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Ankara on October 10, the government’s response was as rapid as it was troubling. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu swiftly imposed a temporary broadcast ban on images of the terror attack, and many in the country reported that Twitter had been blocked on some of the most widely used mobile networks, including Turkcell and TTNET.

    • U.N. Report Calls on Governments to Protect Whistleblowers Like Snowden, Not Prosecute Them

      The U.N. envoy charged with safeguarding free speech around the globe has declared in a dramatic new report that confidential sources and whistleblowers are a crucial element of a healthy democracy, and that governments should protect them rather than demonize them.

      The report by David Kaye, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, also highlights the harsh treatment of whistleblowers in the U.S., most notably former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who is living in Russia as fugitive from the U.S. government.

    • Has the “war on terror” turned us into the enemy?

      It’s hard to imagine a single American willing to shell out money to see a political documentary who doesn’t already know nearly everything they’ll be told in Imminent Threat, Janek Ambros’s omnibus about governmental overreach in the post-9/11 world. Certainly one could argue that the shortage of meaningful action on domestic spying, remote-control killing and suppression of dissent proves that more citizens must voice their disapproval. But this crudely crafted film will be one of the least effective voices in that ongoing debate; only the support of actor James Cromwell, who lends his name here as exec-producer, gives the doc a chance of attracting more than the usual rabble-rousing crowd.

    • Xi Jinping protesters arrested and homes searched over London demonstrations

      Dissidents from China and Tibet have accused British police of a significant overreaction after they were arrested under public order laws and had their houses searched following peaceful protests against the visiting Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

      Shao Jiang, a survivor of the Tiananmen Square massacre now based in the UK, said he was shocked to be tackled by police after holding placards in front of Xi’s motorcade in London, and to learn his home had been searched and computers seized while he was in custody.

    • Prison phone companies fight for right to charge inmates $14 a minute

      The Federal Communications Commission is about to face another lawsuit, this time over a vote to cap the prices prisoners pay for phone calls.

      Yesterday’s vote came after complaints that inmate-calling companies are overcharging prisoners, their families, and attorneys. Saying the price of calls sometimes hits $14 per minute, the FCC has now capped rates at 11¢ per minute.

    • Civil Rights Groups Welcome FCC Ruling On Prison Phone Fees

      On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that fees charged to inmates and their families for phone calls made from prison were “unconscionable and egregious.” The agency set caps for the first time on local and intrastate long distance calls, while further cutting fees for interstate calls. In some states, such calls once cost as much as $17 for a 15-minute conversation with added fees included; now, such calls will be capped at 11 cents per minute in state and federal prisons, only going as high as 22 cents per minute in small jails. Pricey add-ons, such as automated payments and paper-bill fees, have also been reined in significantly.

    • Wife of Missouri-born jailed ex-CIA whistleblower asks Obama for pardon
    • How “Progressive Media” Go Wrong: the Case of Jeffrey Sterling
    • Unprecedented News Conference: Wife of Imprisoned CIA Whistleblower to Speak Out
    • Wife Of Imprisoned CIA Whistleblower Looks To Obama For Pardon
    • Wife of convicted former CIA spy asks President Obama for pardon
    • Breaking Silence, Wife of Jailed CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Seeks Presidential Pardon
    • Jeffrey Sterling’s Selective Prosecution Exposes CIA Double Standards

      Holly Sterling, the wife of a former CIA officer convicted of leaking details about a botched CIA plan to give flawed nuclear blueprints to Iran, has asked President Barack Obama to pardon her husband who was targeted for prosecution after accusing the CIA of racial discrimination and taking his concerns about the Iran scheme to congressional authorities.

      In a 14-page letter to President Obama, Holly Sterling recounted the personal nightmare of the US government’s relentless pursuit of her husband, Jeffrey Sterling, an African-American, after an account of the Iran operation – codenamed Operation Merlin – appeared in State of War, a 2006 book by New York Times reporter James Risen.

    • It’s Illegal To Tell the Truth

      John Kiriakou is an American patriot who informed us of the criminal behavior of illegal and immoral US “cloak and dagger” operations that were bringing dishonor to our country. His reward was to be called a “traitor” by the idiot conservative Republicans and sentenced to prison by the corrupt US government.

    • How the government scapegoats hackers to justify violating your privacy

      The anonymous hacker is quickly replacing the terrorist as the go-to bogeyman in the American cultural imagination. Like Islamist radicals, the kinds of hackers that have brought down the servers of corporate giants and government agencies are mysterious and stealthy, spreading fear and paranoia from a faraway land.

    • Jesselyn Radack speaks out for whistleblowers (transcript)

      “The Obama Administration has presided over the most draconian crackdown on national security and intelligence whistleblowers in US history.” Jesselyn Radack is the Yale graduate who defends those whistleblowers in court. She spoke out for Jeffrey Sterling at the National Press Club last week. Here is the video and transcript.

    • Topless Femen protesters ‘kicked during scuffles’ at Muslim conference about women

      Two topless feminist protesters from Femen have stormed the stage of a conference discussing women in Islam.

      A video of the incident appears to show one of the activists being kicked by a man as she is hauled off stage at the event in France.

      The two women are from the Femen activist group, whose members are known for protesting topless with writing across their chest.

    • Black Lives Matter: The Real War On Terror

      Journalist Ashoka Jegroo says that the movement against racialized police brutality aims to challenge state-sanctioned terror.

      It’s been more than a year since the murders of Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in Staten Island at the hands of police. But the fire lit by their unjust deaths has yet to be extinguished. And once again, people are protesting.

    • Feds announce drone registration system

      The Federal Aviation Administration along with the Transportation Department has announced a drone regulation system requiring recreational drone users to register their devices, according to news outlets.

    • Police obtained Hager data without court order
    • Is This America? Chicago Police Detain Thousands of Black Men in Homan Square, CIA-Style Facility

      Is This America? Chicago Police Detain Thousands of Black Men in Homan Square, CIA-Style Facility

    • FBI Director Defends Baltimore Spy Flights, Says It’s Helpful To Know “Where Are People Gathering”

      FBI Surveillance flights over Baltimore and Ferguson as residents of those cities engaged in civil disobedience against racially-motivated police violence were lawful and useful, bureau Director James Comey claimed Thursday.

      Comey said that the missions were flown at the behest of local law enforcement in each case, as demonstrations raged against the killings of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray by city cops.

    • F.B.I. Chief Links Scrutiny of Police With Rise in Violent Crime

      The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Friday that the additional scrutiny and criticism of police officers in the wake of highly publicized episodes of police brutality may have led to an increase in violent crime in some cities as officers have become less aggressive.

    • CIA Agent Convicted in Italy for Kidnapping Detained in Portugal
    • Former CIA Operative Sabrina De Sousa Arrested in Portugal

      Sabrina De Sousa, a former CIA operations officer who was convicted in absentia along with other agency personnel for her role in a 2003 plot to kidnap a suspected Al-Qaeda terrorist in Italy, has been detained in Portugal.

    • Nicky Byrne: ‘I thought CIA torture story was a joke from Waterford Whispers’
    • This is why the CIA used Westlife to interrogate prisoners

      You might well enjoy hearing the ballad a few times in a day. But full volume continuously for days on end?

    • CIA Torture Update: German Human Rights Group Files Complaint Against Alfreda Frances Bikowsky In Khaled El-Masri Case
    • German human rights group files complaint against CIA ‘Queen of Torture’
    • ACLU sues CIA contractors on behalf of torture victims
    • Here the rain never finishes: exclusive CIA torture report from the ACLU – video
    • Torture by another name: CIA used ‘water dousing’ on at least 12 detainees
    • CIA Torture Update: Water Dousing Used On At Least 12 Detainees
    • Torture By Another Name: CIA Misled About ‘Water Dousing’
    • John Kiriakou will be at UNC-Chapel Hill on Tuesday night
    • Psychologists who devised CIA torture programme sued

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued writs against two psychologists who devised the CIA’s Bush-era interrogation programme on Tuesday (13 October), saying they encouraged the agency “to adopt torture as official policy”.

      James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, two former military psychologists, “designed the torture methods and performed illegal human experimentation on CIA prisoners to test and refine the programme,” the ACLU said in a statement. “They personally took part in torture sessions and oversaw the programme’s implementation for the CIA,” it added. ACLU also said the men enriched themselves to the tune of millions of dollars in the process.

    • CIA Prisoners Sue Psychologists Over Torture Contracts
    • Psychologists from Spokane Helped CIA to Set Up Its Interrogation Program
    • Cornell Professor Says Lawsuit Overdue Against Architects of CIA Detention Program
    • Psychologists Accused of “Criminal Enterprise” With CIA Over Torture
    • ACLU Sues Two Psychologists For Developing CIA Interrogation Program

      DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: The two psychologists named in the ACLU’s lawsuit are former CIA contractors James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.

    • CIA tortures: Will US be held accountable?

      There is a likelihood the CIA will sooner or later be brought to justice in the US and internationally for its brutal interrogation techniques, Ben Davis a member of the Advocates for US Torture Prosecutions told RT.

      Several letters from the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have been revealed by WikiLeaks. In one of them vice chairman Christopher Bond suggests that agencies should be able to use any interrogation means available to them, without waiting for explicit approval. Bond also suggests methods which should be prohibited.

    • EU countries faulted for not probing CIA renditions

      EU countries have not done enough to investigate the CIA’s detention, torture and rendition programs in Europe, MEPs were told Tuesday.

      The debate in the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee included testimony from activists critical of EU member countries’ responses to revelations in a 2014 report by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

    • German torture case against CIA official

      The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) on Oct. 19 filed a criminal complaint against a high-ranking CIA official for mistreatment of Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen who was detained and allegedly tortured for four months in 2003. El-Masri was on vacation in Macedonia when he was mistaken for Khalid al-Masri, a suspect in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. El-Masri was then transported to Afghanistan where he was detained and questioned for four months under the direction of Alfreda Frances Bikowsky. At the time, Bikowsky was deputy chief of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Bin Laden Issue Station. ECCHR asserts in the complaint that the US Senate Torture Report ties Bikowsky to el-Masri’s detention, and ECCHR requests that the German federal prosecutor investigate.

    • Former CIA Interrogator Forced to Resign From College Post

      The Newsweek article focused on Martine’s relationship to the notorious November 2003 death of a captured terrorist suspect in Iraq known as “the Iceman,” because his corpse was put on ice and hooked up to an IV to make it look as if he were still alive when he was removed from Abu Ghraib prison. It also noted that Martine and other former interrogators had been repeatedly investigated by the CIA’s internal watchdog as well as a federal grand jury and neither charged nor exonerated.

    • The Small Brooklyn Publisher That Brought The CIA Torture Report To The World

      Dennis Johnson remembers a Melville House staff meeting on a Tuesday morning last winter, smack in the middle of the publishing industry’s busy holiday season. It was Dec. 9, and a few hours south of the publishing house’s Brooklyn office, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was having a triumphant moment. After years of uphill battles, she was finally publicly releasing part of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s grueling interrogation report, an extended, often stomach-churning look at the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program.

      It was a long-awaited publication, a culminating moment in a yearslong political battle and a sobering day of reckoning for the American public. Except no one outside the Government Printing Office wanted to touch it.

    • CIA Interrogation Methods Continue To Come Under Fire

      It looks like it will take a lot to finally stop the CIA’s use of torture techniques. Hopefully this stint will force them to reinvent and polish their approach to gathering intelligence.

    • Bob Marley Now Soothes Man Who Was Allegedly Tortured With Westlife by the CIA

      Suleiman Abdullah Salim says he listens to Bob Marley to help cope after undergoing what a new American Civil Liberties Lawsuit alleges were unlawful CIA interrogation techniques that included the use of music as torture.

    • REVEALED: The boom and bust of the CIA’s secret torture sites

      In spring 2003 an unnamed official at CIA headquarters in Langley sat down to compose a memo. It was 18 months after George W Bush had declared war on terror. “We cannot have enough blacksite hosts,” the official wrote. The reference was to one of the most closely guarded secrets of that war – the countries that had agreed to host the CIA’s covert prison sites.

      Between 2002 and 2008, at least 119 people disappeared into a worldwide detention network run by the CIA and facilitated by its foreign partners.

      Lawyers, journalists and human rights organisations spent the next decade trying to figure out whom the CIA had snatched and where it had put them. A mammoth investigation by the US Senate’s intelligence committee finally named 119 of the prisoners in December 2014. It also offered new insights into how the black site network functioned – and gruesome, graphic accounts of abuses perpetrated within it.

    • Romania Backs ‘Secret CIA Jails’ Probe

      “There is no further evidence that Romania was complicit in the CIA’s covert detention programme. We stand by the conclusion of the parliamentary inquiries, which uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing. And no new evidence has emerged in the meantime,” MP Marius Obreja, the head of the Parliamentary Defence Committee, said on Saturday.

    • CIA’s European Prisons Back in the Spotlight
    • Romania Denies Complicity With CIA-Led Secret Detention Program
    • CIA: There Was a JFK Assassination Cover-Up

      At some point in the fall of 2014 the CIA quietly said, ‘we’ll just leave this here’ and published a bombshell PDF of a declassified article on George Washington University’s National Security Archive. The 2013 piece by CIA Chief Historian David Robarge is titled “[Director of Central Intelligence] John McCone and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy” and it basically admits that McCone—appointed by JFK to head the agency—was a little squirrelly in his testimony before the Warren Commission.

    • Yes, the CIA director was part of the JFK assassination cover up
    • Former CIA director was part of a ‘benign cover-up’ to withhold information from investigators about JFK’s assassination

      A former CIA director withheld information about President John F Kennedy’s assassination, according to declassified agency reports.

      The CIA reports, which were declassified last fall, claim that then-agency head John McCone and other top officials were part of a ‘benign cover-up’ surrounding the assassination of Kennedy in November 1963.

      The report’s author, CIA historian David Robarge, claims McCone withheld information to keep the Warren Commission focused on what the agency believed to by the ‘best truth… that Lee Harvey Oswald, for as yet undetermined motives, had acted alone,’ according to Politico.

    • The US is No ‘Safe Harbor’ for Citizens’ Data

      What happens to your Facebook data — your identity information, photos, links and “likes” — when you share it outside of the US? Plenty. Your data will flow from your computer, to the nearest servers of the company, and eventually land at Facebook’s home servers in California, where it will likely be mined by Facebook for commercial gain and subject to snooping by the NSA.

      What laws protect your information along the way? Not many. But a recent court ruling should change this for European Internet users.

      Until this month, a “Safe Harbor” regulatory policy agreement between the US and EU allowed companies like Facebook and Google to self-regulate the transfer of data between Europe and the US. It is now formally dead. Unilaterally approved by the European Commission in 2000, the policy allowed companies to promise that they would abide by EU privacy laws when handling the data of EU persons, without needing to provide explicit proof of their compliance. Among other things, it required companies to notify users of the collection and use of their data, allow them to opt out of its collection or transfer, and keep it secure.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Closing the Loopholes in Europe’s Net Neutrality Compromise

      Since our last update on the upcoming net neutrality regulation in the European Union, a further compromise proposal has been developed, which heads to a vote in the European Parliament on Tuesday next week. On its face, the draft regulation appears to hit all the most important points, including providing that “When providing internet access services, providers of those services should treat all traffic equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender or receiver, content, application or service, or terminal equipment”.

    • European net neutrality threat needs urgent action, says US lawyer

      IT IS PANIC STATIONS across the Atlantic as the good people of America wake up to the threat to net neutrality in Europe.

      A sage lawyer, Barbara van Schewick, is warning about a vote in the European Parliament next week designed to preserve net neutrality, saying that it is likely to fall in such a way that reflects badly on trade and communications.

      Van Schewick, who is professor of law and director of Stanford Law School’s Centre for Internet and Society, said that parliament members have a few days to get their heads in order and adopt what she called “key amendments”.

    • EU net neutrality goes on the chopping block next week: Here’s how to fix it

      On Tuesday next week, October 27, the European Parliament will vote in Strasbourg on rules that are supposed to protect net neutrality in the EU. The proposed text emerged from the so-called “trilogue” meeting between the European Commission, European Parliament, and the EU Council held in June to reach a “compromise” text taking into account the differing views held by the three institutions. However, there are serious problems with the compromise rules, and in the run-up to the vote next week, digital activists are urging the public to contact MEPs to ask them to support amendments that will fix the main issues.

    • Slate Informs Its Readers That Confusing, Unnecessary, Anti-Competitive Broadband Usage Caps Are Simply Wonderful

      For years we’ve explained that broadband usage caps are a horrible idea. Not only do they hinder innovation and confuse the hell out of customers — but they simply aren’t necessary on modern, intelligently-managed networks. Caps are an inelegant and impractical way to handle congestion, and U.S. broadband consumers already pay some of the highest prices for broadband in the developed world (2015 OECD data), more than covering the cost of running a network (as any incumbent ISP earnings report can attest).

    • Google Partnering With Indian Railways To Provide Wi-Fi Hotspots: Report

      Internet access will be free for passengers after the system verifies a user’s mobile number with a one-time password sent by text message. However, only the first 30 minutes of usage will be on high-speed Internet, Telecom Talk reported.

    • “Killswitch” Documentary Is a Terriyfing Look at the Battle for Control of the Internet

      The Internet is many things, but above all it is power. The power to communicate and connect, to document and share. And like any source of power, there is a battle over who gets to control it. Every day in the headlines, we see the war over net neutrality between governments, private enterprise, hackers, and activists waging. At the core, it is a battle to preserve freedom of communication and protect the population from government surveillance.

    • The Web is Gummed Up

      This is a sad story to write, but it’s been percolating in the back of my mind for months if not years: The World Wide Web is gummed up with crap. This realization came into sharp focus today when I visited some media sites like cbc.ca and my CPU utilization when up to 100% and stayed there. Exactly why firefox was using so much CPU was a bit of a mystery. I had autoplay in firefox turned off, and there didn’t appear to be any reason why the CPU should be maxed out.

    • Urgent: Net Neutrality in EU under Threat; Please Write to your MEPs Now

      The long saga of net neutrality in the EU is approaching its end, and things aren’t looking good. The compromise text contains some huge loopholes, which I’ve written about elsewhere. The key vote is on Tuesday, so there’s still time for EU citizens to write to their MEPs.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Nina Paley Argues Why Copyright Is Brain Damage

        We first wrote about Nina Paley in 2009, upon hearing about the ridiculous copyright mess she found herself in concerning her wonderful movie Sita Sings the Blues. While she eventually was able to sort out that mess and release the film, she also discovered that the more she shared the film, the more money she made, and she began to question copyright entirely. She originally released the film under a ShareAlike license, promising to go after people who didn’t uphold the ShareAlike parts, but then moved to a full public domain dedication and has become quite vocal in recent years about not supporting any kind of copyright and even raising some important concerns about many forms of Creative Commons licenses.

      • The Pirate Party Is Now More Popular in Iceland than the Government

        The Pirate Party, a movement founded in Sweden nine years ago, is continuing to surge across Europe, now surpassing Iceland’s local coalition government in recent polls.

        The Pirates have been ahead in the polls for several months now, according to the Iceland Monitor. In March, the party was at 23.9 percent, making it the most popular party in the country. Now, at 34.2 percent, the Pirates have surged past the country’s current coalition Government, which includes the Independence Party at 21.7 percent and the Progressive Party at 10.4 percent.

      • Filmmaker Unions Want to Criminalize Streaming Piracy

        Two prominent filmmaker unions are urging the government to criminalize streaming piracy. The labor unions describe streaming as the preferred viewing experience and argue that those who stream copyrighted movies without permission should face prison.

      • Warning Illegal Downloaders is Too Expensive, Record Labels Complain [Ed: quite old]

        New Zealand’s three-strikes anti-piracy law is turning into a huge disappointment for copyright holders. The costs that are involved with sending warning notices and pursuing cases at the copyright tribunal are proving to be too expensive. As a result, only one file-sharer was punished this year.

      • Nintendo Hates You: Massive Takedowns Of YouTube Videos Featuring Mario Bros. Fan-Created Levels

        As of late, Nintendo’s relationship with YouTube and the YouTube community has been, shall we say, tumultuous. After rolling out a bad policy to share revenue with YouTubers on the basis that those personalities torpedo their reputations by promising only positive Nintendo coverage, claiming the monetization for a large number of “let’s play” videos uploaded by independent YouTubers, and even going so far as to lay claim to the review of a Nintendo game created by well-known YouTuber “Angry Joe”, Nintendo clearly seems to believe that YouTube is not so much an independent community as it is some kind of official public relations wing for the company. This is really dumb on many different levels, but chiefly it’s dumb because it breeds ill-will amongst fans, of which Nintendo used to have many.

      • Time To Say Goodbye To All Pre-1972 Music?

        As we’ve been covering over the past few years, there’s been a big battle going on over the copyright status of “pre-1972 sound recordings.” That may sound like a weird thing to be arguing over, but it’s due to a weird bit of history in US copyright law. You see, for a very long time, Congress believed that copyright law could not cover sound recordings. However, various states stepped in and either through explicit state law or through common law, created copyright-like regulations for sound recordings. When copyright was finally updated in the 1976 Copyright Act, pre-1972 works were left out of the federal copyright system, even as federal copyright law basically wiped out all state copyright law for everything else. This has created some weird issues, including that some songs that should be in the public domain under federal copyright law are locked up in perpetuity. A simple and reasonable solution to this would be to just move pre-1972 sound recordings under federal copyright law and level the playing field. But, the RIAA has resisted this. That might seems strange, until you realize that the RIAA and its friends saw this weird quirk of copyright law as a wedge issue with which to try to squeeze more money out of everyone.

      • Is Running a Pirate Site Worse Than Stealing £8.5m From a Bank?

        This week an Irish man was handed a four-year sentence for running a pirate linking site. The Court accepted that he led no lavish lifestyle. In contrast, a man who stole almost £9m from a bank and bought homes worth £1.4m, three Bentleys, three Aston Martins, a Porsche 911 and a Rolls Royce, was also jailed. He received just 3.5 years. Fair?

      • Pirate Party Beats Iceland’s Government Coalition in the Polls

        The Pirate Party in Iceland continues to gain support, causing a revolution in the local political arena. According to the latest poll the party now has over a third of all votes in the country, beating the current Government coalition.


Techrights Realigns to Focus on Corruption

Posted in Site News at 2:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The previous header, prior to our Web site’s anniversary, put aside for now

Older site header

Summary: The Techrights Web site is soon turning 9, whereupon we plan to invest even more time and effort to more effectively expose institutional corruption

IN SPITE of attempts to muzzle the site, Techrights is still going strong and broadening its audience. As one might expect, a site as outspoken as this (sometimes saying what others are afraid or reluctant to say) has become the target of some rather abusive people and as a result we intend to increase veracity, devotion, and persistence. Intimidation against us only makes us stronger. The coming week will bring some new reports about the EPO, whose Wiki we gradually improved over the weekend (identifying separable themes of abuses). We wholeheartedly thank both supporters and anonymous sources that made this possible.

“Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows.”“Defending digital freedom and exposing corruption since 2006″ says the new banner (it might still not be visible because of multimedia caching at our proxy). It doesn’t mean that anything is changing with respect to TechBytes, the audiocast, it just means that we soon (in just a couple of weeks) celebrate an important anniversary and we also approach 20,000 posts/articles. The most active years were half a decade ago, back when we published over 3,600 posts per year (more than 10 per day, on average). In order to get back to these levels we might need readers’ support, which does not necessarily mean financial support. Freedom is not free and human rights are not free, either. They can go away when people stop fighting to protect them, history shows. People need to fight for them and people must defend free speech, sometimes at all costs. It’s when the ruling class manages to silence the oppressed that all hope is lost and change is anything but inevitable.

“Thank you” we again say to everyone who has supported us over the years and we look forward to another decade or more. Here is how to contact us anonymously.

EPO Slammed for Granting Patents on Life

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mo’ patents, mo’ money, mo’ problems, so monopolists, the EPO, and patent lawyers benefit, respectively, at the expense of everybody else

Bell peppers

Summary: New opposition to the EPO’s continued expansion of patent scope to plants/seeds and various foods, serving to monopolise even the very essential elements of life and potentially increasing prices of basic foods

OUR criticism of the EPO began nearly a decade ago, primarily because of software patents in Europe (the campaign against them culminated little more than 10 years ago). This is part of an international problem that so-called ‘trade’ deals like the TPP (globalisation in the interest of very few rich people) serve to promote. But since then we have criticised the EPO for many other things; among them were patents on life, which are equally controversial (even among programmers, not just in life science disciplines). We wrote a great deal about it back in 2009 and when the EPO entered the fray with this abomination of an expansion of patent scope we spoke out again. It’s all in our archives. Now there’s news as things get even worse.

“Just how much longer can EPO management flagrantly stretch the scope of patents in a shameless effort to increase revenue and pretend that innovation is on the rise when in fact it’s monopolisation and protectionism (food monopolies) that are on the rise?”A reader has suggested that we remind people of patents on plants, potentially “the next EPO scandal” because it’s still work in progress (an internal subject of debate). Just how much longer can EPO management flagrantly stretch the scope of patents in a shameless effort to increase revenue and pretend that innovation is on the rise when in fact it’s monopolisation and protectionism (food monopolies) that are on the rise?

One of our readers has taken stock of coverage about this issue, dating back even to 2013.

“On May 8, 2013,” said this reader, “the EPO granted a patent (EP 2140023 B1) to Syngenta for insect-resistant pepper plants [PDF]. According to critics: “Such plants should definitely not be patentable under European patent law.””

“A broad coalition consisting of 34 NGOs,” continued this reader, “farmers’ and breeders’ organisations from 27 European countries, filed an opposition to the Syngenta pepper patent.” [1, 2]

“A question was also asked in the European Parliament. Here is the answer from the EU Commission.” [by Barnier, a huge UPC proponent]

“The topic was covered by IPKat in August 2014. In May of this year, Glyn Moody wrote a piece about the EPO’s current questionable practices concerning the patenting of plants. The topic has now resurfaced again with the recent grant of another questionable pepper patent to Syngenta.” [1, 2] (articles from 2-3 days ago)

“The specification of the most recently granted patent can be found here.” [PDF].

Even though Techrights covered these issues more than a year ago they seem to be resurfacing and getting even worse. The EPO is clearly out of control because of greed. Its priority is not to serve the public or provide a service in the public’s interest; instead it helps large corporations (like the infamous Monsanto) besiege and rip off the public.

How does one say in French “let them eat patents”?

“As far as genetic engineering for food, that is the great experiment that has failed. They literally have the entire world market against them. All those dreams… the blind will see, the lame will walk… has turned out to be science fiction. They are basically chemical companies selling more chemicals. They’ve been able to spread these herbicide-promoting plants around because it is more convenient for farmers who can just mass-spray their crops. But they’ve given absolutely nothing to the consumer while causing more chemical pollution and contamination.”

Lawyer, Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety (USA)

How the Chief Information Officer of the EPO is Connected to the President of the EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

René Kraft
Photo credit (CC): Groupe LINAGORA

Summary: René Kraft, the EPO’s Chief Information Officer, is criticised for improper use of public money (65 million euros)

OVER a week ago we publicly invited readers to provide information about the hardware, networking (not just at hardware level but packet management/switching too), and software used both at the server and desktop/client ends at the EPO. We are trying to better establish a potential for conflicting interests, as shall become more apparent in future write-ups.

René Kraft, the Chief Information Officer of the EPO, Techrights previously mentioned in relation to his connection to Battistelli. Currently, we definitely need more information but we recently learned that the EPO’s IT roadmap is a “bottomless pit” (for obscenely huge spendings and a high budget, partly provided by European taxpayers to go into private hands). To quote one knowledgeable source:

When Mr Battistelli joined the EPO in mid 2010, he trumpeted proudly that with him, all would be better, much better than under his predecessors. He recruited a Chief Information Officer who had worked before for a company providing IT services to the French Patent Office (INPI) and gave him more power than any other PD or even VP2, nominally in charge of IT.

Twenty-four months and some 65 million EUR later, the results are conspicuous for their inconspicuousness. With the exception of a few improvements here and there – that can hardly qualify as IT investments – no major result worth the money spent is in sight. The current IT governance is becoming a place where in-house competence and knowledge are abandoned, leaving the playing field to expensive external bounty-hunters who come and go before having reached concrete results.

The lack of progress calls for an audit of IT. But then, if anything is to be learned from the past, Mr Battistelli will likely succeed in entrusting the Audit to yet another “trusted consultant”, who will surely find that all is compliant with… the EPO’s own unpublished rules.

If the above occurred in a EU institution, there would be a public debate and heads would likely roll. Not so at the EPO.

Kraft’s former employer, “Informatique CDC” (where he was Directeur General Delegue for 7 years), has a Windows Web site (quite a rarity these days, but historically it has been the case) and it is “a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations,” according to Bloomberg. It is a financial organisation. Kraft previously spoke about migrations to OpenOffice, but given the lavish expenditure (as detailed above) we doubt Free/libre software was used in this case, otherwise the EPO would probably announce it. If someone can anonymously provide us with information about the computer systems at the EPO, that would be enormously helpful, especially for future articles which are work in process.

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