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09.16.16

Links 16/9/2016: Uber Uses GNU/Linux, Dell’s New Laptops

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Delinkage Of R&D Costs From Product Prices

      It is essential that policy makers reform the systems for financing R&D, and de-link the costs of R&D from the prices of products.

      First, let’s reflect on why we have high drug prices. When we grant monopolies on products, through patents or other measures, the company that has the monopoly exploits the monopoly, fairly predictably, to maximize profits, and increasingly, this means aggressive pricing.

      Why do we have public policies to create monopolies? Because that is part of our system of funding R&D. That is really the only reason to create the monopolies in the first place.

      But, there is an alternative that would do a better job of funding R&D, with low drug prices, and that is a system that is based on delinkage.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Latest Estimate Pegs Cost of Wars at Nearly $5 Trillion

      The total U.S. budgetary cost of war since 2001 is $4.79 trillion, according to a report released this week from Brown University’s Watson Institute. That’s the highest estimate yet.

      Neta Crawford of Boston University, the author of the report, included interest on borrowing, future veterans needs, and the cost of homeland security in her calculations.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Swedish Court Upholds Arrest Warrant for Julian Assange

      The 45-year-old Australian has been holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June 2012, seeking refuge there after exhausting all his legal options in Britain against extradition to Sweden.

      Assange has refused to travel to Stockholm for questioning over the rape allegation, which he denies, due to concerns Sweden will extradite him to the US over WikiLeaks’ release of 500,000 secret military files on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      This is the eighth time the European arrest warrant has been tested in a Swedish court. All of the rulings have gone against him.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Exxon lobbying: New documents reveal push against electric cars

      Exxon is lobbying the UK government to stop them pushing for electric vehicles as a way of tackling climate change or air pollution, according to documents obtained under Freedom of Information rules (FOI) by DeSmog UK.

      The documents reveal the firm lobbied UK transport department officials in three separate presentations given after the UK signed up to the Paris agreement on climate change last year.

    • Two hurt as train derailed in flood landslide near Watford Junction

      The 06:19 BST service from Milton Keynes to Euston left the track at about 07:00 BST, Network Rail said.

      A portion of the train derailed and was then hit by another train. It was a “glancing blow” and the other train continued on its way.

      A man was treated for a neck injury and a woman treated for chest pains.

      London Midland and Virgin services remain “severely disrupted” from the north-west, Scotland, and the Midlands.

  • Finance

    • Hatch Still Trying To Change The Finalized TPP Deal To Make It Even Worse For Other Nations

      As Techdirt noted in 2014, by agreeing to the “fast track” procedure for trade deals, Congress has essentially given up its power to change them. That’s a two-edged sword. Although it makes the ratification process simpler, because things like TPP and TTIP must be accepted or rejected in their entirety, it also means that political bosses have no ability to tweak the text to make it more likely the deals will be ratified. That’s coming back to bite one of the people who introduced the fast track bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch.

    • Deutsche Bank: No plan to pay $14B Justice Dept. settlement

      Deutsche Bank AG said Friday it does not intend to pay $14 billion to settle civil claims with the U.S. Department of Justice for its handling of residential mortgage-backed securities and related transactions.

      The bank confirmed in a statement that the Justice Department had proposed a settlement of $14 billion and asked the German bank to make a counter proposal.

    • Northern Powerhouse: George Osborne to stay and fight for project

      George Osborne has said he will stay in the Commons to “fight for the things I care about” as he launches a think tank to promote the Northern Powerhouse.

      Mr Osborne, who was sacked as chancellor by Theresa May, said: “I don’t want to write my memoirs because I don’t know how the story ends.”

      There had been a “bit of a wobble” by Mrs May over the project, he said.

      No 10 says Mrs May is building on his plan to create a northern economy to rival London and the South East.

    • Over 200 Economics & Law Professors Urge Congress To Reject Corporate Sovereignty Provisions In Trade Deals

      We’ve written quite a lot for years about the massive problems with “corporate sovereignty” provisions in trade agreements — so-called “investor state dispute settlement” (ISDS) provisions — that allow companies to “sue” countries for regulations they feel are unfair. These aren’t heard by courts, but rather by “tribunals” chosen by the companies and the countries. Some supporters of these provisions claim that there’s really nothing wrong with them because they help encourage both investment in different countries and more stable and fair regulations.

    • TPP members agree not to renegotiate sweeping free trade deal

      The 12 countries that signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact earlier this year agreed Monday that they will not renegotiate the deal, Japan’s TPP minister Nobuteru Ishihara said.

      The minister also told reporters the 12 nations confirmed they will move ahead with domestic processes quickly to adopt the U.S.-led trade pact.

      Ishihara’s remarks came after he joined ambassadors and other representatives from 11 countries for a TPP meeting at the official residence of U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy in Tokyo.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • State Department Delays Records Request About Clinton-Linked Firm Until After The 2016 Election

      Beacon Global Strategies is a shadowy consulting firm that’s stacked with former Obama administration officials, high profile Republicans and a number of Hillary Clinton’s closest foreign policy advisers. But beyond its billing as a firm that works with the defense industry, it is unclear for whom specifically the company works, exactly what it does, and if Beacon employees have tried to influence national security policy since the firm’s founding in 2013.

      And now the Obama administration has complicated the effort to find out — at least until after the presidential election. Last week, the State Department delayed its response to a 2015 public records request for any correspondence between Beacon and agency officials until May 2017.

    • Nigel Farage aide defects to Tories claiming a mass exodus from Ukip

      One of Nigel Farage’s closest aides, who headed Ukip’s media operation for three years, has said the party has “disintegrated” and that she has joined the surge of members and supporters turning to the Conservatives.

      Alexandra Phillips said Theresa May had delivered on all key elements of Ukip’s 2015 election manifesto “within a matter of months”, leaving her former party with few places to go in policy terms.

      “I think ideologically the Tories are doing the Ukip dance now,” she said, pointing to policies on Brexit, immigration, grammar schools and fracking. Phillips said Farage had been “inspirational” to work with and would be remembered as “one of the most incredible politicians of our generation”.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Congressman In Charge Of OPM Hacking Report Announces Plan To Investigate Stingray Use Next

      It’s a good point, one fresh in the mind of millions thanks to the just-delivered OPM report. The government appears willing to take security seriously if it means doling out tax dollars to dozens of agencies with cyberstars in their eyes and crafting bad legislation, but not so much when it comes to actually ensuring its own backyard is locked down.

      Chaffetz was one of the legislators behind the 2015 attempt to turn the DOJ’s Stingray guidance into law, laying down a warrant requirement for US law enforcement. Unfortunately, the bill went nowhere. Presumably, a thorough investigation into law enforcement use of this repurposed war tech might prompt more legislative cooperation in the future.

      Chaffetz has done little to endear himself to security and law enforcement agencies since his arrival on the Hill. In addition to the failed Stingray warrant bill, Chaffetz also partnered with Ron Wyden to attempt to add a warrant requirement for law enforcement GPS tracking — something the Supreme Court almost addressed in its US v. Jones decision.

    • Edward Snowden: House Intelligence Committee Slams NSA Leaker As Disgruntled Employee, Thief
    • Congress Celebrates Snowden Release by Accusing NSA Whistleblower of Invading Privacy
    • ‘He is not a whistleblower. He is a criminal’: Scathing congressional report slams Edward Snowden and says he leaked secrets that ’caused tremendous damage’ to national security
    • ‘He is not a whistleblower. He is a criminal’: Scathing congressional report slams Edward Snowden and says he leaked secrets that ’caused tremendous damage’ to national security
    • NSA Whistleblower Condemns Mass Surveillance | UK-Argentina Relations Thaw

      Today’s main stories: NSA whistleblower Bill Binney, protagonist of the film The Good American which is premiered in the UK tonight, reveals that the 9/11 attacks in New York and many more recent terrorist attacks across Europe could have been avoided if the US had not relied on methods of mass surveillance. Bill Binnie and the film’s director, Friedrich Moser join us in the studio to discuss the ethics of mass surveillance and whether Edward Snowden could receive a presidential pardon.

    • National Security Officials Offer Hedged Support For Strong Encryption

      As Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr mount another attempt to legislate holes in encryption, national security officials are offering testimony suggesting this is no way to solve the perceived problem. Another encryption hearing, again hosted by a visibly irritated John McCain (this time the villain is Twitter), featured testimony from NSA Director Michael Rogers [PDF] and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Marcel Lettre [PDF] — neither of whom offered support for mandated backdoors.

      As nice as that sounds, the testimony wasn’t so much “We support strong encryption,” as it was “We support strong encryption*.”

      Lettre’s testimony follows statements of support for encryption — and opposition to legislated backdoors or “golden keys” — with the veiled suggestion that the government will be leaning heavily on tech companies to solve this problem for it.

    • If Snowden Doesn’t Know Privacy Protections of 702, That’s a Problem with NSA Training

      The House Intelligence Committee just released a report — ostensibly done to insist President Obama not pardon Snowden — that is instead surely designed as a rebuttal to the Snowden movie coming out in general release tomorrow. Why HPSCI sees it as their job to refute Hollywood I don’t know, especially since they didn’t make the same effort when Zero Dark Thirty came out, which suggests they are serving as handmaidens of the Intelligence Community, not an oversight committee.

      There will be lots of debates about the validity of the report. In some ways, HPSCI admits they’re being as inflammatory as possible, as when they note that the IC only did a damage assessment of what they think Snowden took, whereas DOD did a damage assessment of every single thing he touched. HPSCI’s claims are all based on the latter.

      There are things that HPSCI apparently doesn’t realize makes them and the IC look bad — not Snowden — such as the claim that he never obtained a high school equivalent degree; apparently people can just fake basic credentials and the CIA and NSA are incapable of identifying that. The report even admits a previously unknown contact between Snowden and CIA’s IG, regarding the training of IT specialists. BREAKING: Snowden did try to report something through an official channel!

    • Review: ‘Snowden,’ Oliver Stone’s Restrained Portrait of a Whistle-Blower

      Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” a quiet, crisply drawn portrait of the world’s most celebrated whistle-blower, belongs to a curious subgenre of movies about very recent historical events. Reversing the usual pattern, it could be described as a fictional “making of” feature about “Citizenfour,” Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary on the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. That film seems to me more likely to last — it is deeper journalism and more haunting cinema — but Mr. Stone has made an honorable and absorbing contribution to the imaginative record of our confusing times. He tells a story torn from slightly faded headlines, filling in some details you may have forgotten, and discreetly embellishing the record in the service of drama and suspense.

      In the context of this director’s career, “Snowden” is both a return to form and something of a departure. Mr. Stone circles back to the grand questions of power, war and secrecy that have propelled his most ambitious work, and finds a hero who fits a familiar Oliver Stone mold. Edward (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, leaning hard on a vocal imitation) is presented as a disillusioned idealist, a serious young man whose experiences lead him to doubt accepted truths and question the wisdom of authority. He has something in common with Jim Garrison in “J.F.K.” and Ron Kovic in “Born on the Fourth of July,” and also with Chris Taylor and Bud Fox, the characters played by Charlie Sheen in “Platoon” and “Wall Street.”

    • If Someone Is Testing Ways To Take Down The Internet, Perhaps It’s Time To Build A Stronger Internet

      This article is getting a collective “oh, shit, that’s bad” kind of reaction from many online — and that’s about right. But, shouldn’t it also be something of a call to action to build a better system? In many ways, it’s still incredible that the internet actually works. There are still elements that feel held together by duct tape and handshake agreements. And while it’s been surprisingly resilient, that doesn’t mean that it needs to remain that way.

      Schneier notes that there’s “nothing, really” that can be done about these tests — and that’s true in the short term. But it seems, to me, like it should be setting off alarm bells for people to rethink how the internet is built — and to make things even more distributed and less subject to attacks on “critical infrastructure.” People talk about how the internet was originally supposed to be designed to withstand a nuclear attack and keep working. But, the reality has always been that there are a few choke points. Seems like now would be a good time to start fixing things so that the choke points are no longer so critical.

    • As “Snowden” Opens, Three Largest Rights Groups in U.S. Call on Obama for a Pardon

      The day after the New York premiere of Oliver Stone’s new movie, “Snowden,” the three largest human rights organizations in the U.S. teamed up to launch a campaign calling on President Obama to pardon the NSA whistleblower.

      Snowden himself spoke via video from Moscow at a press conference Wednesday morning alongside representatives from the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

      Snowden called whistleblowing “democracy’s safeguard of last resort” and argued that if the Obama administration does not reverse its practice of prosecuting whistleblowers, it would leave a legacy of secrecy that is damaging to democracy.

    • Rights Groups, Riding Film Publicity, Urge Pardon for Edward Snowden

      Three human rights groups on Wednesday urged President Obama to pardon Edward J. Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked secret documents about National Security Agency surveillance in 2013 and is living in Russia as a fugitive from criminal charges.

      The start of the campaign coincides with the theatrical release this week of the movie “Snowden,” a sympathetic, fictionalized version of his story by the director Oliver Stone. Together, the film and the campaign, called “Pardon Snowden,” opened a new chapter in the debate about the surveillance Mr. Snowden revealed and about whether his leaks will go down in history as whistle-blowing or treason.

    • Former CIA Officer: President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden

      This week, Edward Snowden, multiple human rights and civil rights groups, and a broad array of American citizens asked President Obama to exercise his Constitutional power to pardon Snowden. As a former CIA officer, I wholeheartedly support a full presidential pardon for this brave whistleblower.

      All nations require some secrecy. But in a democracy, where the government is accountable to the people, transparency should be the default; secrecy, the exception. And this is especially true regarding the implementation of an unprecedented system of domestic bulk surveillance, a mere precursor of which Senator Frank Church warned 40 years ago could lead to the eradication of privacy and the imposition of “total tyranny.”

      That today we are engaged in a meaningful debate about whether such a system is desirable is almost entirely due to the conscience, courage and conviction of one man: Edward Snowden. Without Snowden, the American people could not balance for themselves the risks, costs and benefits of omniscient domestic surveillance. Because of him, we can.

      For this service, the government has charged Snowden under the World War I-era Espionage Act. Yet Snowden did not sell information secretly to any enemy of America. Instead, he shared it openly through the press with the American people.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • CBP Fails to Meaningfully Address Risks of Gathering Social Media Handles

      Last month we submitted comments to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, opposing its proposal to gather social media handles from foreign visitors from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries. CBP recently provided its preliminary responses (“Supporting Statement”) to several of our arguments (CBP also extended the comment deadline to September 30). But CBP has not adequately addressed the points we made.

      [...]

      As we said in our comments, we do not doubt that CBP and DHS are sincerely motivated to protect homeland security. However, the proposal to collect social media handles has serious flaws—and the government has failed to adequately address them.

    • Sarah Harrison on Snowden’s escape, Oliver Stone’s film, Assange, Courage and whistleblowers

      Sarah Harrison, Courage’s acting director and longtime WikiLeaks journalist, has sat down for several interviews to discuss various news items happening this week: the premiere of Oliver Stone’s film ‘Snowden,’ Harrison’s return to the UK after years of effective exile, and WikiLeaks’ US releases.

      After she assisted Edward Snowden escape from Hong Kong to Moscow, and stayed with him in Sheremetyevo Airport in Russia with hopes of reaching Latin America, Harrison was advised to stay out of the UK, where British terrorism laws threaten to criminalize journalistic work. She’s lived in Berlin for the last three years, but since David Miranda’s recent legal success challenging his 2013 detention in Heathrow, Harrison’s lawyers suggested she could attempt to return home.

    • FBI can’t pretend to be the AP without special approval. They can pretend to be Apple.

      As a number of outlets have reported, the DOJ IG just released a report on FBI’s impersonation of a journalist in 2007 to catch a high school student making bomb threats. As I will explain in more detail in a follow-up post, it somewhat exonerated the Agents who engaged in that effort. It also gives reserved approval of an interim policy FBI adopted this June (that is, well after the press complained, and just as the IG was finishing this report) that would prevent the FBI from pulling a similar stunt without higher level approval.

      But some of the details in the report — as well as one of its recommendations — suggests that the FBI would still be able to pretend to be a software company including a software update. Here’s the recommendation.

    • How Washington Blew Its Best Chance to Fix Immigration

      In June, not long after Donald Trump attacked an Indiana-born judge because he was “Mexican,” I went to go see Representative Raúl Labrador in the Longworth Office Building on Capitol Hill. Labrador, an Idaho Republican, cuts an unusual profile in Washington. Born in Puerto Rico, he was raised Mormon by a single mother in Las Vegas and now, as he told me, represents “one of the most conservative districts in the United States, one of the whitest districts in the United States.” Labrador came to Congress as part of the Tea Party wave of 2010 and later helped found the Freedom Caucus, the House’s conservative vanguard. He was also a pivotal member of a bipartisan group of eight House members who, in early 2013, came together in hopes of producing comprehensive legislation to fix the nation’s immigration system.

      Today, nearly every word of that last sentence feels as if it were ripped from a political fiction of “West Wing”-level implausibility. Immigration is the conflict that has eaten the 2016 elections — relegating other pressing issues to the margins, embodying Washington’s political dysfunction, further polarizing a divided country and, above all, fueling the presidential campaign of a man who began his candidacy by vowing to build a wall to keep Mexico from sending “rapists” to America. In recent weeks, even Trump’s own campaign seems to have grown alarmed by the political toxicity of what it has unleashed, embarking on a series of incoherent revisions before settling back on hard talk about creating a “special deportation task force.”

    • Jay Z: ‘The War on Drugs Is an Epic Fail’

      Why are white men poised to get rich doing the same thing African-Americans have been going to prison for?

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • This Bill Could Stop Protectionist State Broadband Laws, But ISP Control Over Congress Means It Won’t Pass

      We’ve noted for years that one way incumbent broadband providers protect their duopoly kingdoms is by quite literally buying state laws that protect the status quo. These laws, passed in roughly twenty different states, prevent towns and cities from building their own broadband networks or in some instances from partnering with a private company like Google Fiber. Usually misleadingly presented by incumbent lobbyists and lawmakers as grounded in altruistic concern for taxpayer welfare, the laws are little more than pure protectionism designed to maintain the current level of broadband dysfunction — for financial gain.

      Earlier this year, the FCC tried to use its Congressional mandate under the Communications Act to eliminate the restrictive portions of these laws in two states. But the FCC’s effort was shot down as an overreach by the courts earlier this month, and the FCC has stated it has no intention of continuing the fight. That leaves the hope of ending these protectionist laws either in the hands of voters (most of whom don’t have the slightest idea what’s happening) or Congress (most of whom don’t want the telecom campaign contributions to stop flowing).

  • DRM

    • Apple Surveys Its Users About Headphone Port

      In the wake of Apple’s controversial announcement that it’s newest strain of iPhones will not be including a headphone jack, it’s been reported that the company is now sending out survey emails to Macbook Pro users that reference a potential removal of the headphone port in future models.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Boise State Somehow Got A Trademark On Non-Green Athletic Fields

        It’s football season again, which means some significant portion of America is routinely spending some significant chunk of its weekends watching some significant portion of male college students give some significant portion of each other irreparable brain damage. It’s an American thing, I suppose. Also, an American thing is the acquisition of overly broad trademarks that border on the laughable. Intersecting these two bastions of American pride is Boise State, with a recent NY Times article discussing how the school managed to trademark athletic fields that include grass that is blue, with attorneys working with the school suggesting that any non-green colored field might result in trademark action.

    • Copyrights

      • Free Wi-Fi in cities? ‘We panicked for five minutes. Then we realised it’s not serious’

        Telecoms companies were as surprised as anyone when Jean-Claude Juncker announced Wednesday (14 September) that the European Commission wants every city and village in the EU to offer some free public Wi-Fi by 2020.

        “We panicked for five minutes. Then we realised it’s not serious,” one industry source said.

        Juncker mentioned the plan during his annual “State of the Union” speech early yesterday.

        But the proposal that was published a few hours later doesn’t actually guarantee free wireless internet access.

09.15.16

Battistelli is Lying About Patent Quality While It Continues to Nosedive at the EPO as Part of His Neo-liberal ‘Production’ Strategy

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent quality? That’s the old EPO. Now it’s all about quantity!

The Leader of the Luddites
The Leader of the Luddites, engraving of 1812

Summary: Battistelli, who tries to automate and streamline everything so as to maximise patent grants rather than examine applications properly, is making incredible claims that will almost certainly backfire on him

AMID EPO crisis, which undoubtedly continues to deepen, more and more people start to compare it to the USPTO, where patent quality has been rather notorious for quite some time (they almost just rubberstamp applications, with a 92% acceptance rate).

For weeks now (if not a whole month and a half!) the EPO has been 'spamming' universities in Europe on a daily basis, in order to help Battistelli's lobbying campaign (today was no exception [1, 2]). Both time and money may be running out. Talented workers are already leaving, causing brain drain that’s unprecedented in the EPO’s history. What will perhaps be left is just the job skill of using a rubber stamp, causing a copious lump of patents to come through with no quality assessment/control. That’s a nightmare scenario for the EPO’s reputation, on which has been based for decades. For the third time in one week the EPO does the unthinkable by inviting software patents. “At the EPO,” it wrote today, computer-implemented inventions must fulfil special patentability criteria. Learn more here!”

This is the third time in just a few days that the EPO tacitly promotes software patents in Europe. Remember that these are not legal in Europe (political decisions were made on patent scope more than a decade ago), but then again, under Battistelli the EPO is above the law anyway. Or so it claims. It just ignores court decisions against it, flaunting immunity. Is there any credibility left to lose? Is the EPO’s Twitter account signaling that the EPO will likely rubberstamp just about anything, including software patents (provided they’re written in some misleading fashion, as per the EPO’s advice)? This could become a threat to the very existence of the EPO. People won’t pay to receive (or renew) patents. The demand may go down. Prices (fees) likewise. What might be the impact on salaries?

“You should see the new issue of the Gazette,” one person told us, “a piece of Pravda-type propaganda…. interview with Battistelli, Lisbon with Battistelli… what is also interesting is that they have employed two more “investigators”…” (a subject we shall expand on another day).

So the EPO is apparently the embodiment of just one person, Battistelli, examiners that are treated like machine operators in an assembly line, and daily propaganda to keep those operators chugging along. No wonder a lot of smart people have decided to leave or retire early. They see the writings on the wall. Battistelli is just a liquidator, not a leader.

A new article by Andrew Chung, who wrote a highly misleading headline (unless his editor types the headlines, as is quite common) that we noted last night using a screenshot, is repeating Battistelli’s latest propaganda in a new puff piece (published 24 hours ago). It’s again misleading and we can’t help but wonder what Chung has been drinking (maybe more of that aforementioned Kool-Aid). Basically, Battistelli is riding the coattails of older patents. He ruins EP (European Patent) quality while hiding it using the accomplishment of his predecessors. This guy is so clueless about patents (his workers know far more than he will ever know), but Chung acts like some kind of Battistelli stenographer (reposted in other news sites) and the editor went with the headline “Europe issues better patents than U.S. – Europe patent boss” (as if the US is a good yardstick these days).

As realised by EPO insiders, Battistelli is demolishing the EPO as they once know it and he now lies to everyone, much to the pleasure of those who lie for him (here he is propped up by CIPA and other interest groups or publishers that are in bed with the EPO [1, 2, 3, 4]).

The article itself will probably help Battistelli’s lobbying (he likes to cite his paid “media partners” for support of his claims) and here is what it says:

Amid growing concerns by some U.S. lawmakers that federal officials may be granting patents that fuel abusive litigation, the head of the European Patent Office says his agency is producing better-quality patents than its American counterpart.

EPO President Benoît Battistelli said his office scrutinizes patent applications more closely than the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which he said results in patents that are more legally sound going out the door.

[...]

Battistelli, a French national who has led the EPO since 2010, said his agency has developed databases and search engines that allow it to perform the most comprehensive research on prior inventions that could lead to a rejection of a patent.

Unlike in the United States, he added, all patent applications are scrutinized by three officials, known as patent examiners, rather than just one.

This leads to a lower rate of granted patents, he said, but they are legally solid.

On the other hand, it costs roughly twice as much to obtain a patent in Europe, around 5,000 euros ($5,625), than in the United States.

Fact-checking Battistelli’s claims? Not needed. Just write down what a chronic liar says and call yourself a “Reuters journalist”.

This article was sent to us by several EPO insiders although we actually noticed it an hour after it had been published (we have an alerting system for all things EPO). Here is what a patent attorney wrote in response to a related discussion today:

On how to trade off quality and productivity, the USPTO and the EPO cannot meaningfully be compared. That’s because the EPO is master of its own house and the USPTO is not. Who makes the law of patent validity in Europe? The EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal. Who in the USA? The Supreme Court of the USA and it makes law that i) frustrates any USPTO drive towards productivity and quality and ii) encourages Applicants and their lawyers to obfuscate and work diligently away from clarity in the claims.

So of course Mr Spigarelli sees it all as very simple. Pure self-interest drives Applicants at the EPO to draft clearly. EPO separation of search and examination, and strict enforcement of EPC Rules by DG1, makes it imperative that i) from the outset, Applicant presents an exhaustive set of dependent claims and ii) DG1 searches them all, at the outset, exhaustively. That way lies both quality and productivity. Simples. But not yet at the USPTO.

Now that the USA is on a First to File system however, Applicant self-interest in that country will kick in, gradually to improve drafting in the USA and, in its wake, will come better quality and productivity. How so? Because the US will now find it has to ratchet up its “written description” requirement to somewhere near the EPO’s exacting Gold Standard for disclosure, in order fairly to judge issues of novelty, priority and added matter.

In response to this, one person wrote:

Improving patent quality flows both ways, with the quality of the drafted claims submitted for examination being an equally important aspect in the equation. The article mentioned situations where the examiners don’t understand the invention – that’s a clear indictment of the patent attorney who drafted the claims, isn’t it? A strategy of drafting overly broad claims and seeing what sticks is not helpful for anyone (other than the attorney charging fees to his client).

The examiners in the USPTO need more time, better IT support and investment to help improve the quality of their work. They are working hard in less than perfect circumstances and we should all support them. Sharing lessons learned with the EPO is a good start, but attorneys need to do their part too, IMHO.

Also in response to the above:

“The U.S. speakers mostly assumed a trade-off between the two goals of productivity and quality…snip…Alfred Spigarelli, European Patent Office (EPO), disagreed with the trade-off premise, and stated that at the EPO, a focus on quality results in productivity. He argued the ultimate goal is always quality, from which productivity flows.”

At the EPO, “Early Certainty” equals quality with timeliness. And timeliness increases productivity, since examiners are given targets on that. The trade-off is merely hidden and fully loaded onto the individual examiners’ shoulders.

“Professors Melissa Wasserman and Michael D. Frakes discussed their study which indicates that promoted USPTO examiners may generally grant more patents because of less examination time as they are promoted.”

At the the EPO, promoted and non-promoted examiners have the same examination time, but promoted examiners likely grant more.

Same here, same there, same everywhere …

Looking at another thread, this one new comment on “Early Certainty” reveals how insiders feel about the patent quality and overcapacity:

- Overrecruitment is discussed in internal FAQ’s on Early Certainty, but not in the external one, of course.

- Production demands for newcomers have always been inflating, as they doe for all other examiners on a yearly basis.

- Contracts for examiners: the numbers are in the Social Report published by the EPO.

We shall expand on that another day, possibly this weekend, due to lack of time. The above comments (the first three) were posted in response to coverage from an event that was mentioned here a few days ago. David Kappos, as we expected, used it to lobby for software patents again (he’d paid for that lobbying). Being like a corrupt official-turned-lobbyist, here is what he did: “Finally, David Kappos, former head of USPTO and current partner at Cravath, Swain and Moore, reviewed how the USPTO has historically worked on patent quality. He pointed out that the USPTO has been applying the changing standards and rules set by the courts. He stated that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice test is not a helpful flexible rule, but arbitrary and vague. He believes that the courts and USPTO are placed in a position of having to apply an impossible standard and should not be blamed for their application of said standard.”

This utter nonsense from Kappos, calling for decline in patent quality (like it was under his reign), comes at an interesting/strategic time when software patents are pretty much dead. There are few exceptions to that, as we mentioned here before, but in the vast majority of cases software patents drop like flies, even in bulk. Last night we mentioned articles like this one (cherry-picking of cases by the patent microcosm) and here we have a Microsoft advocacy site, citing Microsoft’s lobbying site, showing that Microsoft props up illusions of software patents resurgence, pretending they’re fine (they’re not). Remember that Microsoft is among the companies that pay Kappos to lobby along those lines. Here is what Microsoft has to say: “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday issued an important decision strengthening the law related to software patent eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act. This ruling gives us useful guidance for determining which software innovations qualify for protection and helping provide greater stability to the U.S. patent system, a foundation for our digital economy. Erich Andersen, vice president and deputy general counsel of Microsoft’s IP (Intellectual Property) Group wrote a blog post expressing his views on this ruling.”

Well, as expected right from the start, patent law firms yank out their misleading jubilations because of McRO (one single patent!) [1, 2] and Gene Quinn generalises at Watchtroll, having ignored pretty much all the recent decisions which invalidated software patents (the cherry-picking or selective coverage tactic).

“What we see in the US is a dodgy system wherein the patent office is inclined to just grant everything, courts reject a lot of patents, and if Battistelli gets his way the EPO will be the same, inviting a lot of patent trolls, software patents that hamper innovation, and a lot more money for the patent microcosm.”In other news regarding patent scope in the US, “patented software” became the subject of an antitrust lawsuit, a drug patent of Teva got invalidated by PTAB [1, 2, 3], and USPTO examiners awarded another software patent (which courts would likely invalidate if ever scrutinised properly).

What we see in the US is a dodgy system wherein the patent office is inclined to just grant everything, courts reject a lot of patents, and if Battistelli gets his way the EPO will be the same, inviting a lot of patent trolls, software patents that hamper innovation, and a lot more money for the patent microcosm. So, are EPO patents better than US patents? Well, the old ones probably are, but Battistelli is going to change that. As a Conservative Neo-liberal he’s likely to just abuse science, just like his 'master' Sarkozy, who is now publicly denying climate science.

Battistelli and His Circle — Not Just Team UPC — Still Delusional About the Prospects of a Unified Patent Court (UPC)

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Long nose

Summary: The crazy theory or baseless belief that somehow, somewhere, by some truly miraculous means, UPC will suddenly become a reality, damaging the whole of Europe for the sake of patent law firms

IT IS TRULY SAD to see that Team UPC and the EPO‘s President are still living in a delusional world, surrounding themselves only with equally delusional people (echo chamber/choir). They want us too to live in a fantasy, and maybe even believe that the UPC still has a chance. We refuted/debunked this fairy tale many times in July (after Brexit) and to quote a comment we’ve received this week, “Germany will not ratify the UPC treaty. Thus the project is dead.” It seems rather obvious, but when one has an agenda, reality has a distortion field. Unlike Team UPC, yours truly has no financial stake when it comes to the UPC. It’s just that the UPC is unjust, it is undemocratic, and it would render many patent examiners (i.e. scientists) redundant. The UPC is very harmful to Europe, even though it will never happen anyway. It’s just a lot of effort and resources down the drain.

Madman in chief Battistelli is still lobbying for the UPC. He never gets tired of this, having done so since before he was even a President at the EPO. “European Patent Chief Wants Post-Brexit UK In Unified Court” is the headline of a new article from Law 360 and some people are distorting this headline to suit their agenda (“EPO wants UK to ratify Unified Patent Court agreement despite Brexit” is not what the original said), equating the “EPO” with Battistelli as if it’s a one-person organisation (Battistelli has 0% approval rating at the EPO, so clearly his own workers strongly disagree with him). To quote Law 360: “The European Patent Office is urging the U.K. to ratify an agreement to create a Unified Patent Court system for the European Union, even though voters in the country passed a referendum to leave the bloc, EPO President Benoît Battistelli said Tuesday.”

Team UPC is desperately trying to float this dead project (Germany won’t ratify it) and Italian elements of this team speak up amid new reports like this one (“Changing places: why Milan should host a UPC central division court”). We have heard it before (about Milan as a theoretical substitute for London), but it’s not so suitable a substitute and it requires a massive overhaul of the UPC and what it stands for (not even renaming Milan “London” would shift all the skilled people to Milan). Found via Twitter was this firm of “Intellectual Property Consultants” (their own description) trying to convince us that the UPC is somehow coming because, in their own words:

Italian Parliament’s lower house passes ratification of Unified Patent Court Agreement

The lower house of the Italian Parliament has approved a bill on ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement, a passage through the upper house is necessary for final approval.

Yesterday the Italian Parliament’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, approved the draft law on ratification of the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPC Agreement), with 302 votes in favour, 108 against and 25 abstentions.

The Unified Patent Court is the supranational tribunal that will eventually have exclusive jurisdiction on both European and unitary patents.

[...]

The Committee for EU Policy asked the government to consider the opportunity, within the United Kingdom’s Brexit process, of requesting that Italy forward its candidacy for the seat of the Unified Patent Court’s central division originally assigned London.

The bill must pass through the Italian Senate before final approval.

Several other Italian patents-centric firms want the UPC and spoke about it today. Why? Because it would pass Europe’s wealth into their pockets while retarding science, technology, medicine, etc. The Unified Patent Court is not about Europe but about some European lawyers. Not even all of them…

For reasons we laid out before, the UPC is almost certainly dead and unlike some others who deny it here’s one firm which at least acknowledges the role of Brexit in burying the UPC, probably in the whole of Europe if not just in the UK. “Netherlands ratifies #UPC agreement with press release noting uncertainty over Brexit,” says this tweet, linking to a Dutch article. Watch what Bristows (probably the most vocal among Team UPC) wrote about it a short while ago. Certainly, especially in the UK, the UPC is a dead (Trojan) horse and Bristows speaks of a “Great programme from BBC radio4 on Brexit’s impact on the #law including the #upc”

All this UPC lobbying is intended for Team UPC “to get what they want – the UPC in operation asap,” said a new comment today. This rightly speaks of “delusions of grandeur”:

I fear that delusions of grandeur abound. Much of the analysis (but not all) is based on how to get what they want – the UPC in operation asap. That seems to require the UK to sign up quickly, while the UK government is dealing with a Brexit scenario! There seems to be a lot of yes, yes but we are more important so the UK will act against its citizens’ mandate as that’s in our best interest. They may be surprised to hear that the UK government, irrespective of its personal opinion, is facing a new reality and may have reasons not to help them on this matter.
It astounds me that there is such a lack of appreciation for the changed framework. All those pushing for change and acceptance of change appear to be the least able to accept change when it involves them.

No matter what self-serving patent law firms are saying, the UPC (or the unitary patent) is basically dead in the water. They try to mislead the public and confuse politicians. They tried this on David Davis here in the UK (Bristows). It’s rude if not just pathetic. “UPC will not replace EPO patent opposition procedure,” one person wrote, “further view from pharma industry” in the Managing IP UPC advocacy events in France and Germany last week [1, 2, 3, 4]. These lobbying events with the EPO inside were filled to the rim with Team UPC. To quote one person: “Thanks @ManagingIP for an excellent #patent forum http://bit.ly/2bUxYpI including key updates from @EPOorg on #UPC + industry perspective” (lawyers are not an industry but a meta-industry).

These patent law firms are trying to perturb patent law to increase their profits (more damages, more lawsuits) and one such firm published Unitary Patent, Unified Patent Court, and “Brexit”, having noted (from the lobbying events) that “British EP patent attorneys probably in better position to represent at #upc than English solicitors!”

We expect the conspirators behind the UPC to rename and restructure it, maybe start from scratch or try to patch the whole thing in vain. They won’t know the impact/outcome of Brexit for years to come, so this is tremedously premature and they don’t even know whether to include the UK or not. It’s almost a non-starter.

Remember. Mark our words. The UPC will never happen, not under this name and not in this current form. It’s just reality distortion.

Links 15/9/2016: CUPS 2.2, Copyright Undermines European Internet Users

Posted in News Roundup at 1:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Opens Doors for Comms Startups

    Open source can break down barriers to startups and innovation in the comms industry, which can often be resistant to new ideas.

    “Our industry as a whole has a high barrier to entry for startups, and new small companies,” Tom Anschutz, distinguished member of the AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) technical staff, said, speaking on a panel about the future of the data center. “With open source, SDN and NFV, one of the roles and responsibilities of innovating and bringing new things to the industry has opened up.”

    However, while open source provides great value, somebody’s got to provide packaged support, Trey Hall, vice president of marketing and technology for Walker and Associates, said. Barriers to entry are low, but support is still challenging.

  • What Open-Source Software Could Mean For Agriculture

    A lot of computer software is proprietary – you have to buy it, and modifying the code is strictly off-limits. But another type of software – called “open-source software” – performs as its name implies. Anyone is free to inspect, modify or enhance it.

    Over the years, this method of coding has led to some useful innovations, primarily for a variety of everyday computing tasks that pretty much anyone using the Internet today unknowingly takes advantage of. Now, open-source software is bleeding into the agriculture industry.

  • TaxBrain: Open source economic forecasting

    As economic policy becomes more complex, it grows less transparent.

    To bring some insight into the data and forecasts, the American Enterprise Institute’s Open Source Policy Center (OSPC) has developed a new approach to policy analysis.

    The TaxBrain web application lets users simulate and study the effect of tax policy reforms using open source economic models. Developed and launched in April by OSPC, TaxBrain aims “to make economic policy analysis more transparent, accessible and scientific,” AEI officials said.

  • Top 10 Google Open Source Projects You Must Know

    Google is a titan in the technology industry. Google has contributed to nearly every front of technology, and, since the Alphabet restructuring, has become the single most valuable company in the world. Google has also made some notable contributions to the open source community in the form of Android, Chromium OS, Go, Material Design Icons etc.

  • CloudBees Announces First Enterprise Distribution of Jenkins, Combining Open Source Innovation with Enterprise-Class Reliability and Stability
  • From MIT to MapR, Big Data Training is Becoming Easily Accessible
  • 3 open source alternatives to PowerPoint

    PowerPoint is one of those programs whose use has become so ingrained in the corporate world that it is probably running the risk of becoming completely genericized, in the same way that some people use Kleenex to refer to all tissues, or BAND-AIDs to refer to all bandages.

    But presenting a slideshow doesn’t have to mean using PowerPoint. There are a number of totally capable open source alternatives to PowerPoint for giving visual presentations. In many cases, the features of these “alternatives” are so compelling that, unless you’re absolutely forced to use PowerPoint, I don’t know why you still would.

  • Global group communication and culture tips
  • SaaS/Back End

    • Mirantis Acquires TCP Cloud to Advance Kubernetes Ambitions

      Based in Prague, TCP Cloud provides managed services around deployments of OpenStack, OpenContrail and Kubernetes technologies. Mirantis CEO Alex Freedland says the addition of technology developed by TCP Cloud will reduce the amount of time it would have taken Mirantis to move OpenStack to Kubernetes by six to nine months. As a result, he says, Mirantis expects to show the first fruits of a joint development effort involving CoreOS, Google and Intel in the first quarter of 2017.

    • Marrying Ephemeral Docker Containers to Persistent Data

      Docker containers are ephemeral by design. They come and they go like a herd of hyperactive squirrels, which is great for high availability, but not so great for preserving your data. Kendrick Coleman of EMC {code} demonstrated how to have both ephemeral containers and persistent data in his talk called “Highly Available & Distributed Containers” at ContainerCon North America.

      As container technologies become more complex, using them becomes easier. Coleman gave a wonderful presentation using a Minecraft game to demonstrate persistent data storage with ephemeral containers, and did it all live. This setup requires two technologies that were not available as recently as a year ago: Docker SwarmKit and REX-Ray.

    • Docker + Golang = Heart

      This is a short collection of tips and tricks showing how Docker can be useful when working with Go code. For instance, I’ll show you how to compile Go code with different versions of the Go toolchain, how to cross-compile to a different platform (and test the result!), or how to produce really small container images.

      The following article assumes that you have Docker installed on your system. It doesn’t have to be a recent version (we’re not going to use any fancy feature here).

    • Docker Partner Program Unlocks DevOps, ALM Opportunities

      When Docker unveiled a formalized channel program today, partners gained a new springboard that could launch them deeper into DevOps, application lifecycle management and various managed services.

      The partner program launch was nearly three years in the making. To understand the journey, rewind to January 2014. That’s when the software container company hired former Red Hat Channel Chief Roger Egan as senior VP of sales.

      At the time, Egan told me Docker’s influence across the IT market could eventually eclipse Linux’s impact. Sure, Linux freed the world from expensive Unix servers and enabled data center consolidation projects. But containers, he reasoned, could speed application deployments across all types of on-premises and cloud systems.

    • Front Ends and Extensions Take Hadoop in New Directions

      Across the history of data analytics, marquee-level applications have always given rise to useful front ends and connectors that extend what the original applications were capable of. For example, the dominance of the spreadsheet gave rise to macros, plugins, and extensions. Likewise, the rise of SQL database applications ushered in database front ends, plugins, and connectors. Now, Big Data titan Hadoop is inspiring its own ecosystem of powerful extensions and front ends.

      To explain what a difference these extenders and connectors can make, here are some examples of how Hadoop can be taken in new directions with these tools.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • It’s time to make LibreOffice and OpenOffice one again

      Let’s talk about OpenOffice. More than likely you’ve already read, countless times, that Apache OpenOffice is near the end. The last stable iteration was 4.1.2 (released October, 2015) and a recent major security flaw took a month to patch. A lack of coders has brought development to a creeping crawl. And then, the worst possible news hit the ether; the project suggested users switch to MS Office (or LibreOffice).

      For whom the bells tolls? The bell tolls for thee, OpenOffice.

      I’m going to say something that might ruffle a few feathers. Are you ready for it?

      The end of OpenOffice will be a good thing for open source and for users.

    • Oracle happy to let Apache Foundation adopt NetBeans

      The IDE allows development in Java and in other languages and runs operating systems that can fire up a JVM. As the Foundation explains in its proposal, “NetBeans has approximately 1.5 million active users around the world, in extremely diverse structures and organizations.” Students, teachers, “large organizations who base their software on the application framework beneath NetBeans” and many others use the tool.

      But the Foundation points out that “NetBeans has been run by Oracle, with the majority of code contributions coming from Oracle.”

      Moving the project to the Foundation is therefore seen as a way “to expand the diversity of contributors and to increase the level of meritocracy in NetBeans.”

      The Foundation seems to be betting that things can’t get worse with the potential for more contributors that would come with its stewardship. The proposal therefore says that “… though Oracle will relinquish its control over NetBeans, individual contributors from Oracle are expected to continue contributing to NetBeans after it has been contributed to Apache, together with individual contributors from other organizations, as well as self-employed individual contributors.”

  • Healthcare

    • Yes, We’ve Migrated!

      Since March, 30 2000 Linux Medical News has been on the Zope-based Squishdot blog before there was blogs software. After 16 years and 1963 articles (has it been that long?) we’ve finally moved to WordPress. As always, for 16 years, your announcements your news your opinions are welcome at http://linuxmednews.com

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Guile 2.1.4 released (beta)

      We are delighted to announce GNU Guile release 2.1.4, the next pre-release in what will become the 2.2 stable series.

      This release fixes many small bugs, adds an atomic reference facility, and improves the effectiveness of integer unboxing in the compiler. See the release announcement for full details and a download link.

  • Public Services/Government

    • MEP: publicly funded software should be public

      Software developed with public funds should be made available as free and open source software, says Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda. Sharing source code should become a standard in IT procurement across the EU, the MEP says.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Copyleft and data: databases as poor subject

      Open licensing works when you strike a healthy balance between obligations and reuse. Data, and how it is used, is different from software in ways that change that balance, making reasonable compromises in software (like attribution) suddenly become insanely difficult barriers.

    • What the rise of permissive open source licenses means

      This FUD about open source software is mainly about open source licensing. There are many different licenses, some more restrictive (some people use the term “protective”) than others. Restrictive licenses such as the GNU General Public License (GPL) use the concept of copyleft, which grants people the right to freely distribute copies and modified versions of a piece of software as long as the same rights are preserved in derivative works. The GPL (v3) is used by open source projects such as bash and GIMP. There’s also the Affero GPL, which provides copyleft to software that is offered over a network (for example as a web service.)

      What this means is that if you take code that is licensed in this way and you modify it by adding some of your own proprietary code, then in some circumstances the whole new body of code, including your code, becomes subject to the restrictive open source license. It was this type of license that Ballmer was probably referring to when he made his statement.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Data

      • Dutch public agencies fail to register open data on national portal

        Less than one in ten Dutch public agencies has registered any open data on the national open data portal. For municipalities, this falls to only one in twenty. These are the main results of an assessment performed by the Open State Foundation.

        According to the foundation, from 1,069 government organisations only 89 have datasets that can be found via the central government’s open data portal: Although all ministries and provinces have registered one or more datasets, datasets from only 21 of a total of 395 municipalities, seven of 246 regional cooperation bodies, 12 of 155 Self-Governing Bodies and four of the 23 water boards can be found. High Councils of State and Public Bodies have not registered any open datasets yet.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Meet Hyperledger: An “Umbrella” for Open Source Blockchain & Smart Contract Technologies

      It’s hard to believe I’ve been working at The Linux Foundation on Hyperledger for four months already. I’ve been blown away by the amount of interest and support the project has received since the beginning of the year. As things really start to take off, I think it’s important to take a step back to reflect and recapitulate why and what we’re doing with Hyperledger. Simply put, we see Hyperledger as an “umbrella” for software developer communities building open source blockchain and related technologies. In this blog post, I’m going to try to define what we mean by “umbrella,” that is, the rationale behind it and how we expect that model to work towards building a neutral, foundational community.

    • Hitchhiker’s Guide to IoT Standards and Protocols

      The framework of course depends on if your deployment is going to be internal, such as in a factory, or external, such as a consumer product. In this conversation, we’ll focus on products that are launching externally to a wider audience of customers, and for that, we have a lot to consider.

    • Standards Move at Snail’s Pace for the NFV Community

      There’s a general consensus among people working on telco virtualization that open source groups are replacing traditional standards groups.

      “In open source, code is the coin of the realm; express yourself with something that is useful,” said Tom Anschutz, distinguished member of AT&T’s technical staff, speaking yesterday at Light Reading’s 2016 NFV & Carrier SDN event.

Leftovers

  • Gmail hit by global outage

    A global Gmail outage that began at 1.16am AEST this morning has affected millions of users across the world.

    Nine hours later, at 10.45am AEST, the company was still claiming that the service had been restored for “some users” as it did four times earlier after the initial announcement of the breakdown of the service.

    The first message at 1.16am said there were indications that the issue only affected Google for Work Gmail users.

    Subsequent messages did not clarify whether this was correct or not.

    About 40 minutes later, Google said it had identified the root cause of the issue and was implementing a “potential fix”.

  • Science

    • A ‘Memory Hacker’ Explains How to Plant False Memories in People’s Minds

      We tend to think of memories as perfect little time capsules—important records of past events that matter to us and made us who we are, as unchangeable as a dragonfly stuck in amber. Well, they’re anything but. I recently met with Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist who specializes in the science of memory. “I am a memory hacker,” Shaw told me. “I use the science of memory to make you think you did things that never happened.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Alcohol Industry Bankrolls Fight Against Legal Pot in Battle of the Buzz

      The fight against legalized pot is being heavily bankrolled by alcohol and pharmaceutical companies, terrified that they might lose market share.

      On the heels of a filing last week that revealed that a synthetic cannabis company is financing the opposition to legal marijuana in Arizona comes a new disclosure this week that a beer industry group made one of the largest donations to an organization set up to defeat legalization in Massachusetts.

      The Beer Distributors PAC, an affiliate that represents 16 beer-distribution companies in Massachusetts, gave $25,000 to the Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, tying it for third place among the largest contributors to the anti-pot organization.

    • UN High-Level Panel On Access To Medicines Issues “Landmark” Report

      The long-awaited report by the United Nations High Level Panel on Access to Medicines was released today, making many recommendations. The panel calls for countries to embrace the policy space available in the World Trade Organization intellectual property rules, and invest more in health. It also calls for negotiation of a binding international treaty on research and development, delinking prices from R&D costs, greater transparency in drug pricing, public health impact assessments in free trade agreements, and encouragement to better use international legal tools available to countries to ensure affordable medical products. And it lays out the path ahead, calling for several new bodies to be created to take recommendations forward.

    • Pharma Company Funding Anti-Pot Fight Worried About Losing Business, Filings Show

      Pharmaceutical executives who recently made a major donation to an anti-marijuana legalization campaign claimed they were doing so out of concern for the safety of children — but their investor filings reveal that pot poses a direct threat to their plans to cash in on a synthetic cannabis product they have developed.

      On August 31, Insys Therapeutics Inc. donated $500,000 to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, becoming the single largest donor to the group leading the charge to defeat a ballot measure in Arizona to legalize marijuana.

      The drug company, which currently markets a fast-acting version of the deadly painkiller fentanyl, assured local news reporters that they had the public interest in mind when making the hefty donation. A spokesperson told the Arizona Republic that Insys opposes the legalization measure, Prop. 205, “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”

      A Washington Post story on Friday noted the potential self-interest involved in Insys’s donation.

      Investor filings examined by The Intercept confirm the obvious.

    • Slovakia food producers call on govt to reject TTIP to stop the EU “being flooded” with GMOs

      EXCERPT: TTIP has met resistance from the public, governments and parliaments of both Austria and France. The controversial deal will reduce consumer protection as well as the safety of foodstuffs.

    • MSF Report Calls On Governments To Repair, Remodel Biomedical R&D

      Governments are urged to do more to promote the development of desperately-needed new medicines, vaccines, and diagnostics at affordable prices and address the failures of research and development (R&D) in a new report by Médecins Sans Frontières.

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • DevOps and the Art of Secure Application Deployment

      Secure application deployment principles must extend from the infrastructure layer all the way through the application and include how the application is actually deployed, according to Tim Mackey, Senior Technical Evangelist at Black Duck Software. In his upcoming talk, “Secure Application Development in the Age of Continuous Delivery” at LinuxCon + ContainerCon Europe, Mackey will discuss how DevOps principles are key to reducing the scope of compromise and examine why it’s important to focus efforts on what attackers’ view as vulnerable.

    • Sept 2016 Patch Tuesday: Microsoft released 14 security bulletins, rated 7 as critical

      Microsoft released 14 security bulletins for September, seven of which are rated critical due to remote code execution flaws. Microsoft in all its wisdom didn’t regard all RCEs as critical. There’s also an “important rated” patch for a publicly disclosed flaw which Microsoft claims isn’t a zero-day being exploited. But at least a 10-year-old hole is finally being plugged.

      Next month marks a significant change as Microsoft says it intends roll out “servicing changes” that include bundled patches. Unless things change, not all Windows users will be able to pick and choose specific security updates starting in October.

    • Microsoft Patches Zero Day Flaw Used In Two Massive Malvertising Campaigns [Ed: Microsoft, as usual, told the NSA about this months before patching]

      Microsoft was first notified about the so-called information disclosure bug in September 2015, security vendor Proofpoint said in an alert this week. But a patch for it became available only after Trend Micro and Proofpoint reported the bug again to Microsoft more recently when researching a massive malvertising campaign being operated by a group called AdGholas, the alert noted.

    • Finnish police: Keep your car keys in the fridge

      If there’s a car in your yard that has automatic, so-called ‘smart’ keys, you should consider keeping the keys in the fridge. That’s the message from Finnish police, who say that high-tech criminals could hack cars with such systems.

      “It sounds strange, but it makes sense,” said Jari Tiiainen of the National Bureau of Investigation.

      These so-called smart keys work by emitting a signal when the driver touches the door handle. The lock opens when it recognises the key’s signal. Criminals have technology that can strengthen that signal even from a hundred metres away—well inside the residential property where most owners keep their keys, according to Eero Heino of the If insurance company.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Putin-Bashing Fuels Hard-line Russian Reaction

      Last week, Hillary Clinton told reporters on her campaign plane that the Russians are trying to disrupt the U.S. elections to discredit the process and sow discord among Americans. This goes one step further than her previous charges of Russian influence through the “Kremlin’s candidate,” Donald Trump, or still earlier, the claim that the Democratic National Committee’s server had been hacked by intelligence services reporting to Vladimir Putin. Of course, all these charges were made without proof.

    • Donald Trump’s Not Anti-War, He Just Wants the U.S. Military to Focus on Stealing Oil

      Donald Trump’s attempt to present himself as an anti-war candidate is based on his perfect 20/20 hindsight of the disastrous consequences of regime change in Iraq and Libya — military campaigns he publicly supported when they were popular, and only turned against after they went wrong.

      To better understand that Trump really is, as he insisted during the Republican primary campaign, “much more militaristic” than even George W. Bush, it helps to look at how often he has presented his bizarre plan to use the United States military as the muscle in a global protection racket, aimed at extorting oil from countries we destroy.

    • Philippine president calls for US special forces to leave Mindanao

      Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, in a speech before newly sworn-in government officials on September 12, called for US special forces to leave the southern island of Mindanao. The next day, in an address to the Philippine Air Force, he said the Philippines would no longer stage joint patrols with the United States in the South China Sea.

      Duterte also declared he was looking to secure arms from China and Russia, saying he would send Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to these countries to see what they had to offer.

      The statements mark a further souring of ties between Manila and Washington under the new president. The US State Department responded by saying it had received no formal notice from the Philippines regarding its special forces in Mindanao and thus would not pull the troops out.

    • Getting Fooled on Iraq, Libya, Now Russia

      A British parliamentary inquiry into the Libyan fiasco has reported what should have been apparent from the start in 2011 – and was to some of us – that the West’s military intervention to “protect” civilians in Benghazi was a cover for what became another disastrous “regime change” operation.

      The report from the U.K.’s Foreign Affairs Committee confirms that the U.S. and other Western governments exaggerated the human rights threat posed by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and then quickly morphed the “humanitarian” mission into a military invasion that overthrew and killed Gaddafi, leaving behind political and social chaos.

    • Pressure Mounts to Punish Russia For Hacking Without Evidence And Before Investigations Are Concluded

      While it’s certainly possible Russia has been busy using hackers to meddle in (or at least stoke the idiot pyres burning beneath) the U.S. elections, we’ve noted how actual evidence of this is hard to come by. At the moment, most of this evidence consists of either comments by anonymous government officials, or murky proclamations from security firms that have everything to gain financially from stoking cybersecurity tensions. Of course, transparent evidence is hard to come by when talking about hackers capable of false flag operations while obfuscating their footprints completely.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • BBC climate coverage is evolving, but too slowly

      For years, the BBC has been criticised for the false balance of its climate change coverage. And for years, the BBC has apparently been doing “ongoing work” to fix it. So far, however, this ‘reform’ has been more like a triumph of the middling. Yes, the BBC may broadcast less outright misinformation, but as a scientist and a citizen, I still feel let down by its continually careless handling of climate denial – most recently two weeks ago. This nod to mediocrity is a disservice to science, to public trust, and to the biggest news story in the world. And it is a huge, missed opportunity.

      As a young PhD graduate working on climate change solutions, I am confronted daily by a world where the warnings of science are undercut by Fox ‘News’ and its ilk. It is a very different world to the trustworthy BBC broadcasts of David Attenborough and the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures that I grew up with, which helped inspire me to become a scientist. But as a recent BBC News segment by Science Editor David Shukman sadly reminded me, those worlds can too easily collide.

    • Compassion Isn’t a Crime: Giving Thirsty Pigs Water Isn’t a Crime

      On the summer day of June 22, a Van Boekel Hog Farms slaughterhouse transportation truck headed to Fearman’s Pork Inc. was stationary, Anita Krajnc, the co-founder of Toronto Pig Save, and another activist stopped to give the pigs water and document their experience. The driver confronted the two women and told them to stop giving the pigs water. While Krajnc asked the driver to show compassion, he threatened her with physical assault and called the police.

      Now Krajnc is being charged with criminal mischief — interference with the use, enjoyment of and operation of property — under $5,000 for showing thirsty pigs compassion. Although there are reports that she’s willing to go to jail.

      Compassion is NOT criminal! Why do inmates on death row get a last meal, but innocent pigs are denied water? Why are praised for helping thirsty dogs and cats, but charged as criminals for helping pigs?

    • UK to ban fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean

      The UK is to ban commercial fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean around British overseas territories, the government said on Thursday.

      In total, the government is creating marine protected areas around four islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, including the designation this week of one of the world’s biggest around the Pitcairn Islands.

      A 840,000 sq km (320,000 sq mile) area around Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty settled, becomes a no-take zone for any fishing from this week. St Helena, around 445,000 sq km of the south Atlantic ocean and home to whale sharks and humpbacks, is now also designated as a protected area.

      The foreign office said it would designate two further marine protection zones, one each around two south Altantic islands – Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.

      Sir Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said: “Protecting 4m sq km of ocean is a fantastic achievement, converting our historic legacy into modern environmental success.”

    • Standing Rock Sioux on the front lines of the climate emergency

      The fight by the Standing Rock Sioux to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline has emerged as one of the defining climate justice fights in the United States.

      It has also become a central focal point of the ongoing worldwide struggle by indigenous peoples to have their treaty and land rights respected by other governments and corporations. (The fact that corporations operate as de facto government is a galling example of the need for the Green Party).

      Representatives of more than 280 Native American tribes have now participated in the occupation, an unprecedented gathering of indigenous peoples after centuries of war, genocide, and land theft.

      Indigenous people are among the most vulnerable communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, and are leading the fight. Corporations have repeatedly used force to extract fossil fuels from their lands with approval from government attorneys and military forces. Major pipeline projects invariably cut across Native lands while bypassing white suburban communities.

      We must follow the lead of indigenous communities that have protected their land for countless generations, and work together in solidarity to ensure a thriving planet for future generations and all living beings.

      Ajamu Baraka, my Vice Presidential running mate, and I visited the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s occupation last week. We went to demonstrate Green Party solidarity with their struggle. The silence of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on this issue is deafening.

  • Finance

    • Juncker’s CETA support undermines pledges on climate and citizens’ rights

      European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker today reaffirmed his commitment to CETA – the EU-Canada trade deal – calling it as “the best and most progressive agreement that we have ever entered into.”

      His comments came during the annual State of the European Union address, where he also spoke about his regret at the slow pace of the ratification of the Paris climate agreement (“Dragging our feet on ratification affects our credibility and makes us look ridiculous”) and promised to protect farmers (“The Commission will always stand by our farmers”) and citizens’ rights (“In Europe, consumers are protected against cartels and abuses by powerful companies”).

    • September 15, 2016 Publication

      TiSA is often considered the “little” brother of the two “big” trade agreements TPP or TTIP – but this view seems more and more inappropriate, as the global economy is shifting towards a service-oriented/based economy. According to the World Bank, world-wide trade in services in 2015 was around 13% of the global GDP; for the EU it is even twice that figure (around 24% of its total GDP). But it is not just these numbers alone that prove that the TiSA negotiations deserve a much higher attention in the public discussion as they currently have:

    • Former DWP disabilities minister set to be suspended from Parliament for leaking payday loan report to Wonga

      A former DWP minister with responsibility for disabled people is set to be suspended from the House of Commons for leaking a parliamentary report to a payday lender.

      Justin Tomlinson shared the findings of a draft report into regulating payday loans with an employee of Wonga.

    • Justin Tomlinson faces suspension for Wonga report leak

      A former DWP minister with responsibility for disabled people is set to be suspended from the House of Commons for leaking a parliamentary report to a payday lender.

      Justin Tomlinson shared the findings of a draft report into regulating payday loans with an employee of Wonga.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • A Busy Day for the Bears

      Finally, there was the “appearance” at a security conference by Guccifer 2.0, the guy who has released the DNC emails that gave the Democrats an excuse to force Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s to resign, though they had been looking for an excuse for some time.

      In point of fact, Guccifer 2.0 didn’t appear in person at the conference. Rather, he sent a speech which got read at the conference, with the transcript released to journalists. The speech focused on the negligence of software companies in security. Guccifer went on for several paragraphs about the power and sloppiness of tech companies, arguing they were to blame for hacks.

    • Trump’s Call for a Flood of Poll Watchers Could Disrupt Some Voting Places

      Donald Trump’s campaign website implores voters to “Help Me Stop Crooked Hillary From Rigging This Election!” by signing up as observers. He warned people at an Aug. 12 campaign event in Altoona, Pennsylvania, that Clinton could win the state only by cheating, and he asked supporters to “go down to certain areas and watch and study, and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.” Less than a week later, Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, encouraged a crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire, to help ensure a fair election by serving as poll watchers because “you are the greatest vanguard for integrity in voting.”

    • Here’s Where the Candidates Stand on 3 Crucial Science Topics

      In August, the presidential campaigns of Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and Libertarian Gary Johnson were sent 20 crucial science topics to consider. The questions for each topic were determined by leading American scientific institutions and what they felt were today’s most pressing issues in science and technology.

    • Guccifer 2.0 strikes again: DNC chair blames ‘Russian agents’

      The Democratic National Committee chairwoman said the DNC was the victim of a Russian cyberattack after the infamous hacker known as Guccifer 2.0 — who leaked internal Democratic documents ahead of the party’s convention this summer — released more apparent DNC documents Tuesday.

      The most recent leak includes information about the DNC’s finances, donors’ personal contact information and the DNC’s network infrastructure, according to CNN. The leak also includes vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine’s cell phone number and the contact information for several top White House officials, NBC News reported. No emails appear to have been included.

    • How a Harmless Frog Became a ‘Nazi Symbol’: Pepe’s an Issue in US Election

      Additionally, the first link Google provides when searching for Pepe the frog is a new page on the Clinton website explaining how the popular meme, dating to 2008, is now a symbol of white supremacy.

      Over on Wikipedia, editors have been engaged in an edit war, after the page was changed to say that the anthropomorphic frog is associated with Trump, white nationalism, and the alt-right.

    • Colin Powell calls Trump ‘national disgrace’ in hacked emails

      Former secretary of State and retired four-star general Colin Powell called Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “a national disgrace” and “international pariah,” and said “Hillary’s mafia” was trying to drag him into Clinton’s email scandal in personal emails that were leaked by hackers, according to online news organizations BuzzFeed and The Daily Caller.

      Powell made the remarks about Trump in a June 17, 2016, email to Emily Miller, a journalist who once worked under Powell as a deputy press secretary at the State Department. In the email Powell said Trump, “is in the process of destroying himself, no need for the Dems to attack him,” according to BuzzFeed. “Paul Ryan is calibrating his position again,” Powell said of the speaker of the House who had only recently decided to endorse Trump at the time of the email.

      An aide to Powell confirmed the hack Wednesday, telling The New York Times “they are his emails.”

      Around 30,000 stolen Powell emails were given to DCLeaks.com by unnamed hackers, The Daily Caller reported. There is speculation among some computer experts and Democratic politicians that DCLeaks has ties to Russian intelligence services, according to The Wall Street Journal. There is concern that leaks from the site are intended to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.

    • Five dramatic revelations from Powell’s leaked emails

      Candid emails from former Secretary of State Colin Powell are causing a stir across the country with their blunt assessment of a host of Washington’s stars.

      The emails, released by hackers behind a WikiLeaks-type website believed to have ties to Russian intelligence, show Powell criticizing Donald Trump, Bill and Hillary Clinton and Dick Cheney.

      The remarks, made by Powell in private to friends and colleagues, contrast with the statesmanlike image cultivated over a long military and political career.

      Powell served under President George W. Bush and endorsed Barack Obama in his two White House bids, and has generally avoided controversy in and out of office.

      The emails, first reported by BuzzFeed and The Intercept, were posted under password protection at DCLeaks. A spokesperson for Powell confirmed to media outlets that the emails were his.

      The website that leaked the emails reportedly has a relationship with Guccifer 2.0, who leaked damaging emails from Democratic groups earlier this summer, according to security experts.

      Here are five of their most eyebrow-raising revelations.

    • Research Proves Google Manipulates Millions to Favor Clinton

      In this exclusive report, distinguished research psychologist Robert Epstein explains the new study and reviews evidence that Google’s search suggestions are biased in favor of Hillary Clinton. He estimates that biased search suggestions might be able to shift as many as 3 million votes in the upcoming presidential election in the US.

      Biased search rankings can swing votes and alter opinions, and a new study shows that Google’s autocomplete can too.

      A scientific study I published last year showed that search rankings favoring one candidate can quickly convince undecided voters to vote for that candidate — as many as 80 percent of voters in some demographic groups. My latest research shows that a search engine could also shift votes and change opinions with another powerful tool: autocomplete.

    • Colin Powell, in Hacked Emails, Shows Scorn for Trump and Irritation at Clinton

      Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has long been one of the high priests of the Washington establishment, staying quiet in this year’s raucous presidential campaign while tending to his reputation as a thoughtful officer and diplomat.

      But a hack of Mr. Powell’s email this week has ripped away the diplomatic jargon and political niceties to reveal his unvarnished disdain of Donald J. Trump as a “national disgrace,” his personal peeves with Hillary Clinton and his lingering, but still very raw, anger with the Republican colleagues with whom he so often clashed a decade ago.

      There has been an expectation that Mr. Powell, who waited until the final weeks to endorse Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, would do the same for Mrs. Clinton this year. But in one 2014 email released online, Mr. Powell lamented that while he respected Mrs. Clinton, he would “rather not have to vote for her,” describing the Democratic presidential nominee as having “a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational.”

      The emails make clear that if Mr. Powell endorses Mrs. Clinton, he will be motivated by intense feelings about Mr. Trump, whom he also called an “international pariah.”

    • Foreign Spending on U.S. Elections Threatens National Security, FEC Commissioner Says

      Calling foreign influence on U.S. elections “a matter of national security,” FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub is joining her colleague Ann Ravel in calling for the full commission to plug the flow of foreign money into American political campaigns.

      In a new memo to her five fellow commissioners, Weintraub writes that the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision created “new avenues for corporate political activity would make our democracy vulnerable to foreign individuals, corporations, and governments that seek to manipulate our elections.” Weintraub will ask the full FEC at its meeting on Thursday to begin the process of writing new regulations to deal with Citizens United and foreign money.

      Weintraub cites recent reporting by The Intercept on a $1.3 million donation by a U.S. corporation owned by Chinese citizens to a Super PAC backing Jeb Bush as evidence that this is not a “hypothetical” issue. “A person would have to be wearing some very rose-colored glasses,” Weintraub writes, “to think there are not foreign operatives interested in exploiting any vulnerability to influence our elections.”

      Her fellow commissioner Ann Ravel called on the FEC to take action in August, in the wake of The Intercept’s story.

      The Citizens United decision opened up a peculiar loophole for foreign money. Federal law prohibits “foreign nationals” — a legal term encompassing foreign individuals, corporations and governments — from putting money into the U.S. political process. But federal law also states that any company legally incorporated in the U.S., no matter its ultimate ownership, is a U.S. national.

    • 2016 Election Lawsuit Tracker: The New Election Laws and the Suits Challenging Them

      There are 15 states with new voting laws that have never before been used during a presidential election, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice. These laws include restrictions like voter ID requirements and limits on early voting. Many are making their way through the courts, which have already called a halt to two laws in the past month — one in North Carolina and one in North Dakota.

    • Another Unrealistic Trump Policy Proposal: Homeschool Vouchers

      GOP nominee Donald Trump has said he plans to spend billions of dollars on so-called school choice programs. The $20 billion in federal funds would be available only to what he says are 11 million children living in poverty who are also “trapped in failing schools.” Families will be eligible for vouchers to send their children to charter, magnet or even private religious schools. Last Friday, he announced the policy would include homeschooling as well.

      “School choice is at the center of this civil rights agenda, and my goal is to provide every single inner-city child in America that is trapped in a failing government school the freedom to attend the school of their choice,” he said at a conservative voters conference. “School choice also means that parents can homeschool their children. Hundred percent.”

      But there’s one problem with Trump’s homeschooling plan: Impoverished homeschoolers mostly don’t exist.

    • The Green Party’s Jill Stein goes on the trail, packs a tent

      Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, stepped out of her small tent at the edge of the Missouri River here, where she’d slept in an encampment of protesters the night before. The tent and tarps of her small entourage had been procured second-hand right before this visit, and the plan was to leave the items behind as a donation to the cause.

      It was still early in the day, and a warrant had not yet been issued for her arrest — that would come much later. For the moment, this least known and most quixotic of the presidential candidates was but one of thousands of people who’d gathered to try to stop the construction of a planned $3.8 billion, 1,200-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, which they fear will desecrate sacred burial lands and potentially poison the water source for millions downstream.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Deadspin Mocks New Owners Univision By Cleverly Reposting Deleted Mitch Williams Story As New Story About The Lawsuit

      Right, so remember how over the weekend the spineless execs at Univision decided to delete six articles from various Gawker properties? The reasoning made very little sense. The company claimed that since it had only agreed to acquire the assets of Gawker, but none of the liabilities, it felt that it needed to delete the six articles that were part of existing lawsuits (they also changed an image in one that was the subject of a copyright dispute). As we (and basically everyone else) pointed out, this was ridiculous on multiple levels. First, due to the single publication rule, any liability likely would be only for that initial publication. But, more importantly, the lawsuits in question were all pretty obviously bogus.

      Univision has been trying to go into damage control mode, including a long interview with JK Trotter at Gizmodo, answering a bunch of questions from angry Gawker reporters. Univision continues to stand by the line that this was solely and 100% about the terms of the transaction, in which they were not acquiring any liabilities, no matter how ridiculous those liabilities might be. They insisted there was no editorial analysis or First Amendment analysis — it was just about the liabilities. Gawker’s reporters are still not happy and have apparently discussed the possibility of a walkout. They’ve also directly posted their unhappiness about the decision.

      But Timothy Burke at Deadspin (one of the former Gawker properties) took things one step further. Somewhat brilliantly, he’s written a brand new article about the latest happenings in a lawsuit involving former Major League Baseball pitcher Mitch Williams. If you don’t know, two of the articles that were taken down were about Williams, and he had sued Gawker over them. Of course, the court had already tossed out the claims against Gawker, since the statements made in the earlier Deadspin articles were all either substantially true or protected opinion. But the overall case continues. Williams is suing MLB Network, which fired him after Deadspin’s original posts. So, in this new article about the lawsuit against MLB Network, Burke uses the opportunity to effectively repost every bit of content that was taken down by Univision management. And this is why it’s clever: he’s not just reposting it, but reposting it from the lawsuit.

    • Censorship Gets Lost In Translation

      It may be the most famous photo of the Vietnam War: A 9-year-old girl flees naked down a highway with other frightened children after American warplanes dropped napalm on their village in an action targeting Viet Cong guerillas.

      Associated Press photographer Nick Ut snapped the Pulitzer Prize-winning shot of Kim Phuc and the other children in 1972. Nearly every daily newspaper in the world ran the photo at the time and in the years that followed. For Americans and our allies, it brought home the suffering of the war and the unanticipated consequences of what we presumed were our good intentions; for our Cold War adversaries, the shot was propaganda manna from the Communist equivalent of heaven.

    • Opinion: Why editors were wrong to damn Facebook for censorship

      Facebook’s initial argument that posting the iconic photo would make it more difficult subsequently to refuse to post other photos of naked children was arguably disingenuous but also just plain faulty. Surely a company with the obvious, indeed mindboggling, technical chops that Facebook possesses, has the ability to create an algorithm to take such markers as Pulitzer Prizes into account when making publication calls. Although there are bigger issues here related to letting algorithms make such editorial judgements in the first place, with or without human assistance, the problem in this particular case really should not have arisen at all.

      But editors also are on shaky ground in trying to dictate to Facebook what it should or should not publish. It is in fact ironic that they should think doing so is appropriate, let alone righteous, behaviour.

    • The Big Read: Facebook is a prissy censor

      Don’t you just hate it when this happens? As content curator for one of the world’s largest social media platforms, you delete a picture you consider obscene. Then some Norwegian woman writes an angry post. So you delete her post, too.

    • Sega Takes Potshots At DMCA-Happy Nintendo While Being Cool About Fan Games

      While Nintendo has been making waves for some time with its overly aggressive DMCA takedowns of any fan-work that includes its intellectual property, the company has really ramped things up lately. Recent actions include the takedown of a Mario fan game, a remake of a 25-year-old Metroid title, and engaging in all kinds of craziness over its Pokemon Go title. It was enough that one of Nintendo’s biggest rivals couldn’t help but take a subtle potshot at it, while simultaneously treating Sega fans like human beings.

      Daniel Coyle, on Twitter as SuperSonic68, headed up a team of Sonic the Hedgehog fans in the development of a fan-made 3D Sonic game. Their work has been received rather well as of late, including on gaming blogs and YouTube channels. When one YouTube channel, GameGrumps, did a “let’s play” of the fan game, it appears that Sega noticed and reached out in the comments section with a poke at Nintendo’s aggressive nature and some encouragement.

    • Facebook denies it’s a media company despite censorship decisions

      Facebook makes value judgements about what can appear in News Feed and what’s censored, but insists its a tech company not a media editor.

      At TechCrunch Disrupt SF, writer Josh Constine sat down with Adam Mosseri, a VP at Facebook and head of News Feed, to hear more about how policies control what you see.

      The talk started with Constine asking Mosseri much content people consume daily on their News Feed. Mosseri shared a new statistic, which is that the average Facebook users reads a little over 200 stories a day on their feed, which is about 10 percent of the 2,000 possible stories Facebook has to show them each day.

    • Director stood against censorship at Cal State Long Beach: Letters

      Cal State Long Beach President Jane Close Conoley effectively canceled the performance of “N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk” at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Center Director Michele Roberge resigned, in protest calling the cancellation a form of censorship, but Conoley said she did not intend censorship and said the canceled performance lacked educational value. No matter that the show played at CSULB last year and no student complained. Conoley did say that unnamed professors and sponsors complained.

      Conoley has every right to critique the performance. But canceling something because it lacks educational value is censorship that goes beyond the academic pale. Her censorship policies, if left to stand, will suffocate the creative imagination at CSULB.

      Roberge stood up for academic values. The president should not accept her resignation. If she accepts it, then she should be the one who is resigning. In that case, I hope that faculty, students and all members of the Long Beach community who value freedom of expression call for the president’s resignation.

    • How Chinese Censorship Affects You

      Under the Communist Party, China remains a culturally suppressive society defined by censorship rather than free speech.

      Yet Chinese censorship stifles not only the Chinese citizenry, but also the American public. As globalization accelerates and state-sponsored firms commit to private investment in the West, the Communist Party grows increasingly influential beyond its own borders.

    • Action against sexual harassment in schools is more about protecting the male orgasm than girls

      How much pain and suffering is the male orgasm worth? Is there ever a time when a man’s right to access hardcore pornography is outweighed by the rights of young women to feel safe?

      I am wondering this in light of today’s Women and Equalities Committee Report into sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools. The way in which young men see their female peers is tainted, poisoned by broader cultural narratives about what female bodies are for. Boys are not born with a need to hurt and humiliate for pleasure, but they are acquiring it, and fast.

    • Education, Not Censorship, Is The Key To Addressing Children’s Access To Porn
    • Kick sex education out of schools
    • Schools ‘should teach pupils about porn’: report
    • Facebook ‘censors’ Dakota Access pipeline protest livestream – activists
    • Facebook censored a live stream video posted by Dakota pipeline protesters
    • Dakota Pipeline Protesters Claim Facebook Censored Video of Mass Arrest
    • Anti-pipeline activists claim Facebook censored their live video
    • Dakota Pipeline Activists Accuse Facebook of State Collusion
    • At Least 20 Dakota Pipeline Protesters Arrested
    • Armed Police in Riot Gear Arrest 22 During #NoDAPL Lockdown
    • Bulgaria: Regional media outlets dependent on local governments
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Obama to Welcome Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi for Talks on Sanctions

      President Barack Obama welcomes Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi to the White House Wednesday, where he is eager listen to her views on how far the U.S. should go in lifting sanctions on the southeast Asian country.

      It will be her first visit to the U.S. as State Counselor and Foreign Minister – a position she assumed after her party’s decisive win in last November’s elections. The country’s military era constitution bars her from holding the title of president because her late husband and children are foreign citizens.

      Aung San Suu Kyi spent more than 20 years under house arrest in the country formerly known as Burma. Her meeting with Obama in the Oval Office is viewed as another clear indication that she is Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader.

    • Chelsea Manning will undergo gender transition surgery, lawyer says

      Imprisoned former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has learned that she will receive gender transition surgery, her lawyer told CNN, in what could make her the first US prison inmate to undergo such a procedure.
      Manning, a transgender woman, was convicted of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks.

      The former US Army soldier is serving a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth, an all-male Army prison in eastern Kansas, despite her request to transfer to a civilian prison. Her lawyers say she has been denied medical treatment for her gender dysphoria, a condition in which there is a conflict between a person’s physical sex and the gender he or she identifies with.

    • Chelsea Manning Ends Hunger Strike, Will Get Gender Affirming Surgery

      U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning will receive gender affirming surgery, and is ending her hunger strike after five days, her lawyers have confirmed.

      “I am unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing,” Manning said in a statement. “I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted — for them to let me be me. But it is hard not to wonder why it has taken so long.”

      Until her surgery, the military will still require Manning to keep her hair short.

    • Romeo and Juliet and Sexting: 17-Year-Old Faces Child Porn, Assault Charges for Consensual Sex with Girlfriend

      “After being arrested, I was suicidal and hopeless,” Austin Yabandith, a 17-year-old from Superior, Wisconsin, recalls. “As of right now, I am just hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.”

      The “worst” would be pretty bad. After discovering indecent photos of Austin’s 15-year-old girlfriend on his cell phone—as well as a video of the couple having sex—authorities charged him with sexual assault of a child, sexual exploitation, and possession of child pornography. The sexual assault charge is considered a Class C felony, and carries a maximum (though unlikely) sentence of 40 years in prison.

    • Two dead in water riots in India’s Silicon Valley

      Relative calm has been restored to the Indian city of Bangalore following the deaths of two men amid riots over an ongoing water dispute.
      Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to protesters to exercise restraint and follow the law as a heavy paramilitary presence was deployed Wednesday. Protests began earlier this week over a water sharing deal between the Indian states of Karnataka and neighboring Tamil Nadu.

      One demonstrator was shot dead by police, Karnataka chief minister S Siddaramaiah said in a press conference Tuesday. Another died in hospital following injuries sustained from a fall while fleeing police during Monday’s clashes.

    • Why Uzbekistan’s Jews already miss the iron fist of their late ruler

      Driving through this dusty desert city of many ornate and ancient mosques, Shirin Yakubov recalls the ruthlessness of her country’s recently deceased president of 25 years.

      “He killed all of them, every last one,” she says of Islam Karimov’s role in the 2005 police massacre of hundreds of suspected Islamists in the eastern city of Andijan following unrest.

    • New fires leave cars ‘destroyed’ in Copenhagen

      One car was burnt in the Amager district and another was torched four hours later in Nørrebro.

      “Both cars are completely destroyed, and we are investigating the fires as arson,” Copenhagen Police spokesman Carsten Reenberg told news agency Ritzau.

      The incidents marked the fourth consecutive night of car fires in the Copenhagen area and bring the total of vehicles burnt since mid-August to over 50.

    • MPs slam ‘national scandal’ of FGM- Britain’s hidden crime

      FGM is typically carried out on girls aged between five and eight. It involves total or partial removal of or injury to female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It is often performed without anaesthetic or by someone without medical qualifications

    • Tyree King, 13, Fatally Shot by Police in Columbus, Ohio

      A police officer in Columbus, Ohio, fatally shot a 13-year-old boy he was trying to detain following reports of an armed robbery, officials said.

      Authorities identified the teenager as Tyree King. The Columbus Division of Police said in a statement that King “pulled a gun from his waistband” when officers attempted to take him and another male into custody Wednesday night.

    • LIU LOCKOUT OVER!!!

      This is an extremely significant victory for all faculty, be they tenured, contingent, tenure-track or adjunct. Be they at LIU or elsewhere.

      We all owe a great thanks to the stalwart faculty at LIU–and to their student supporters. They have demonstrated the limits of institutional fiat, for the good of all faculty everywhere.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • New EU rules promise 100Mbps broadband and free Wi-Fi for all

      The European Commission has promised free Wi-Fi in every town, village, and city in the European Union, in the next four years.

      A new grant, with a total budget of €120 million, will allow public authorities to purchase state-of-the art equipment, for example a local wireless access point. If approved by the the European Parliament and national ministers the cash could be available before the end of next year.

    • ‘High Noon’ Showdown Hearing In US Over Internet Control

      Former US Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz today used a 3.5 hour hearing of a Senate subcommittee he chairs to attempt to scare the US Commerce Department National Telecommunications and Information Administration away at the last minute from its plans to transition out of its stewardship role for the internet root zone system.

    • Gizmodo Completely Misses The Point Of Cord Cutting

      Roughly every month or so I’ll see a story proclaiming that cord cutting is a bad idea because you need to subscribe to multiple services to mirror the same overall volume of content you receive from pay TV. There are a few problems with that logic, first being that cord cutters aren’t looking to precisely duplicate cable TV. They’re looking to get away from paying a small fortune for hundreds of unwatched channels, including an ocean of religious programming, infomercials, whatever the Weather Channel is up to these days, and C-grade channels focused on inherently inane prattle.

      Writers of these pieces always seem to forget that broadcasters dictate the pricing of content on both platforms, so any surprise that the pricing of television remains somewhat high (when you pile on multiple streaming services) is just kind of silly. All told, “cord cutting is really expensive when I subscribe to every streaming service in the known universe” is just a weird narrative that just keeps bubbling up across various media outlets despite not really making much sense.

    • New York City Threatens To Sue Verizon For Failure To Meet Fiber Deployment Promises

      We’ve noted for years now how Verizon’s modus operandi is to promise uniform fiber deployment to a city or state in exchange for all manner of subsidies and tax breaks, then walk away giggling to itself with the job only partially complete. This story has played out time and time again thanks to city and state contracts struck behind closed doors without public transparency, allowing Verizon to bury numerous loopholes in the contract language. Other times, Verizon can lobby to weaken oversight so that there’s simply nobody left to hold Verizon accountable when it decides to laugh off the contract requirements.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • WIPO Committee Approves Forbin As New Top Copyright Official [Ed: the abusive WIPO put the copyright monopoly (industry) in charge of copyright]

        The nomination of Sylvie Forbin of France to be the next head of copyright issues at the World Intellectual Property Organization was finalised yesterday as the WIPO Coordination Committee approved her appointment. Forbin is set to start work at WIPO on Monday.

        Forbin would be the deputy director general for copyright and the creative sector at WIPO.

        She is a corporate lobbyist for media giant Viacom in Paris, and worked with French foreign service in the past.

      • WiFi Providers Can Be Forced To Require Passwords On Rightsholder Request, ECJ Rules

        The European Court of Justice today ruled that a shop offering WiFi is not liable for copyright infringements on its network but may be forced by rightsholders to require passwords to use the network.

      • EU Announces Absolutely Ridiculous Copyright Proposal That Will Chill Innovation, Harm Creativity

        This is not a surprise given the earlier leaks of what the EU Commission was cooking up for a copyright reform package, but the end result is here and it’s a complete disaster for everyone. And I do mean everyone. Some will argue that it’s a gift to Hollywood and legacy copyright interests — and there’s an argument that that’s the case. But the reality is that this proposal is so bad that it will end up doing massive harm to everyone. It will clearly harm independent creators and the innovative platforms that they rely on. And, because those platforms have become so important to even the legacy entertainment industry, it will harm them too. And, worst of all, it will harm the public greatly. It’s difficult to see how this proposal will benefit anyone, other than maybe some lawyers.

        Not surprisingly, the EU Commission is playing up the fact that this package does knock down some geoblocking in setting up more of a “single market” for digital content, but after Hollywood started freaking out about it, that proposal got watered down so much that plenty of content will still be geo-blocked. And there’s so much other stuff in here that’s just really, really bad. As expected, it includes a ridiculous ancillary copyright scheme, which should really just be called the “Google tax” for linking to copyright-covered content.

        The proposal does away with the liability limitations for platforms, effectively requiring any tech platform that allows user-generated/user-uploaded content to build or license their very own ContentID system. This is ridiculous. If the idea was to punish Google, this will do the opposite. Basically no startup will be able to afford this, and it will just lock in platforms like YouTube as the only option for content creators wishing to upload video. Protecting intermediary liability has been shown, time and time again, to enable new innovation and also to enable greater creativity and free speech — and the EU Commission basically just tossed it in the garbage because some Hollywood interests think (incorrectly) that internet companies “abuse” the protections.

      • Prenda’s Paul Hansmeier Loses His Law License; Won’t Be Filing Bogus ADA Lawsuits For Now

        Of course, when we last checked in with Hansmeier he was aggressively filing questionable ADA lawsuits, basically shaking down small retail stores for any possible violation of the ADA he could find. I’m guessing that’s going to need to stop — but I do wonder if he’ll find someone else to keep doing the legal work on that kind of scam.

        Anyway, Hansmeier has now had his assets liquidated in bankruptcy and his law license taken away. What’s next? Well, last we’d heard, it sounded like criminal charges were getting closer, so perhaps he has that to look forward to as well.

      • Scientists Realizing That EU Ruling On Copyright & Links Just Made Science Much More Difficult

        A recipe for disaster indeed.

        This is, of course, not the first time we’ve noted the problems of intellectual property in the science world. From various journals locking up research to the rise of patents scaring off researchers from sharing data, intellectual property keeps getting in the way of science, rather than supporting it. And that’s extremely unfortunate. I mean, after all, in the US specifically, the Constitution specifically says that copyrights and patents are supposed to be about “promoting the progress of science and the useful arts.”

        Over and over again, though, we see that the law has been twisted and distorted and extended and expanded in such a way that is designed to protect a very narrow set of interests, at the expense of many others, including the public who would benefit from greater sharing and collaboration and open flow of data among scientific researchers. Having the CJEU make things worse in Europe isn’t going to help Europe compete — and, unfortunately, it does not look like those in Europe looking to update its copyright laws understand any of this yet.

      • EU digital copyright reform proposals slammed as regressive

        The European Commission’s proposals to reform the region’s copyright rules, published in draft form today, have been criticized by tech companies and digital rights groups as regressive and a missed opportunity to modernize hopelessly outdated rules.

        The Open Rights Group accused the EC of ignoring EU citizens responses to an earlier consultation on the reform, and trying to bring in regressive rules that will force private companies to police the Internet.

        “The Commission’s proposals would fail to harmonise copyright law and create a fair system for Internet users, creators and rights holders. Instead we could see new regressive rights that compel private companies to police the Internet on behalf of rights holders,” said its executive director Jim Killock in a statement.

        A big point of concern for many critics is the EC seeking to shift the responsibility for identifying copyrighted content by requiring Internet companies that host user uploaded video, such as YouTube and Facebook, to proactively check for copyrighted material, rather than waiting to receive a take down request from a rights holder, as is the case now.

      • EU Commission Proposes Mandatory Piracy Filters For Online Services

        Today, the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal to modernize the EU’s copyright law. Among other things, it will require online services to install mandatory piracy filters. While the Commission intends to strengthen the position of copyright holders, opponents warn that it will do more harm than good.

      • European Commission introduces copyright on links; presents worthless copyright harshening proposal for the EU

        The European Commission has finally presented its long-awaited copyright reform proposal. It ignores everything positive the European Parliament demanded in the earlier Reda report, and doubles down on introducing copyright for links.

      • 10 Years in Prison For Online Pirates a Step Closer in the UK

        The UK Government’s Digital Economy Bill has moved a step closer to becoming law after its second reading in Parliament. With unanimous support, the current two-year maximum custodial sentence for online piracy is almost certain to increase to a decade. However, the reading also covered other familiar ground – pressure on Google to do something about piracy.

      • CJEU says that free Wi-Fi provider is not liable for third-party copyright infringements but may be required to password-protect its network to terminate infringements

        This reference for a preliminary ruling was made in the context of proceedings between Sony and a person (Tobias Mc Fadden) who operates a business selling and renting lighting and sound systems for various events.

        Mc Fadden owns a Wi-Fi connection that is open to anyone to use as it not protected by any password. The main reason why McFadden provides password-free free internet access is to drive traffic to his website and encourage customers to visit his shop.

        In 2010 that connection was used by someone other than Mc Fadden to download unlawfully a musical work to which Sony owns the copyright. Following Sony’s formal notice, Mc Fadden sought a negative declaration from the referring court.

        This dismissed it and upheld Sony’s counterclaim, granting an injunction against Mc Fadden on the ground of his direct liability for the infringement at issue and ordering him to pay damages, the costs of the formal notice, and costs.

        Mc Fadden appealed that decision, arguing that the provisions of German law transposing Article 12(1) of the ECommerce Directive would shield him from liability for third-party infringements.

      • Judge’s Opinion That EU Is Competent To Ratify Marrakesh Treaty Might Break Standstill

        The European Union has exclusive competence to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty on copyright exceptions for visually impaired people, the advocate general of the Court of Justice of the EU has found. This conclusion, which was well-received by representatives of the visually impaired, could speed up the ratification of the treaty by the EU.

      • Commission unveils new copyright package

        Further to the proposal for a regulation on cross-border portability of online content services in late 2015, the European Commission has just unveiled its new set of proposals to ameliorate EU copyright and achieve a fully functioning digital single market.

        These – among other things – include proposals for a new directive on copyright in the Digital Single Market and a regulation on certain online transmissions of broadcasting organisations and retransmissions. Both instruments, if adopted in their current form, will have a deep impact on the EU copyright framework, particularly with regard to online uses of copyright works, responsibilities of hosting providers, users’ freedoms, and authors’ contracts.

      • EU copyright plans a big win for old media, but public concerns ignored

        EU proposals for the “modernisation of copyright to increase cultural diversity in Europe and content available online” turn out to be an implementation of the old copyright industries’ wishlist, with little that addresses online users’ needs.

        As expected, the proposed Copyright Directive will give news and magazine publishers—described by the EU as “press publishers”—a new 20-year “ancillary copyright” over and above the normal copyright. Although it is not yet clear how this will work in practice, the intent is to enable press publishers to control the use of online snippets drawn from “daily newspapers, weekly or monthly magazines of general or special interest and news websites.”

      • European Commission Copyright Reform Proposal Sparks Many Jeers, Some Cheers [Ed: paywall]
      • Commission Proposal to Reform Copyright is Inadequate

        Today the EU Commission released their proposal for a reformed copyright framework. What has emerged from Brussels is disheartening. The proposal is more of a regression than the reform we need to support European businesses and Internet users.

        To date, over 30,000 citizens have signed our petition urging the Commission to update EU copyright law for the 21st century. The Commission’s proposal needs substantial improvement. We collectively call on the EU institutions to address the many deficits in the text released today in subsequent iterations of this political process.

09.14.16

As Part of So-called ‘Reforms’, the EPO’s President is Gradually Eliminating the Boards of Appeal, Not Just Their Independence

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wim Van der Eijk (below), Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) and EPO Vice-President of DG3, is said to be on his way out (giving Battistelli even more control/leverage)

Wim Van der Eijk

Photo from EPO.org

Summary: The EPO appears to be preparing for a post-examination (or very poor examination quality) era, heralded in part by the mistreatment of the Boards of Appeal, who are highly specialised workers akin to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board in the United States

THE EPO is an office like no other office, but WIPO is a close match because it too is unaccountable and it routinely abuses staff, which then has no legal/judicial recourse (we have posted several links to stories about it in our daily links this month and earlier today). Even independent judges are being mistreated by the EPO and are then subjected to mock ‘trials’.

Today, for a change, the EPO invited people to sign up to the blog (lies) of Battistelli, who is a chronic liar that is a textbook definition of “newspeak” (see the recent announcement about the exile of appeal boards). When the EPO isn’t busy 'spamming' universities for a lobbying campaign of the Battistellites at the expense of the EPO (this continued today [1, 2] with two more universities) it is busy pushing or retweeting glamousing dross about “European Patent Office @EPOorg President #Benoit Battistelli” (this is what people are seeing if they follow the EPO, it’s just a cult of a single monomaniacal person).

Battistelli’s own lobbying event is the only thing that these people can talk about (other than repeated mentions of some pages in the EPO’s Web site) and right now the UK-IPO helps the EPO further marginalise the boards (barrier to Battistelli’s God-like powers), citing a vacancy which we mentioned earlier this week.

“Registration for the “Boards of appeal and key decisions 2016″ conference closes tomorrow,” the EPO says, but how long will it be before the boards too get closed/shut down by Battistelli? Judging by articles we read (not just in English), there are no long-term guarantees in Haar and the isolation of staff there is bound to discourage job applications, never mind poor retention of existing staff. We foresee the EPO trying to replace the boards with the UPC — a subject we have been writing about for a number of years now.

“EU software patents [are] pushed with the establishment of a pan-European patent court,” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) wrote today, noting/highlighting again the correlation between the UPC and patent scope. We recently highlighted UPC lobbying by the EPO’s Margot Fröhlinger (as recently as last night) and we have been told by EPO insiders that their internal Gazette is lying about the UPC and other topics (more on that tomorrow; for now, see footnote 9 below). Here is what one person wrote today in a comment about Fröhlinger:

I am becoming increasingly concerned regarding the positions publicly espoused by Margot Fröhlinger.

I can agree with her position that “There are no guarantees in life so no one is sure if the CJEU will agree on the legality of UK’s participation if challenged”. However, what are we to make of the fears that she has voiced about the UPCA unravelling due to the CJEU being “politically insensitive”? That is, how else can those fears be interpreted other than as concerns that the judiciary will not provide a ruling that is politically convenient (for the executive)?

Further, indicating a belief that the CJEU will give “its blessing” to a revised UPC Agreement in which a non-EU Member State (i.e. the UK) participates can only be interpreted either as wishful thinking or an indication that undue pressure will be put on the CJEU to reach the “right” decision.

The fact is, the CJEU should be left to its own devices to decide whether any new UPC Agreement is consistent with EU law. I have my doubts about whether this will be possible. This is not least because I struggle to see how the CJEU could, in relation to a system established under EU law, give its blessing to the participation of a country that is not obliged to follow rulings of the CJEU. However, I do not rule out the possibility that a system could be devised that might genuinely be consistent with EU law. That is, unlike Ms Fröhlinger, I have no intention of pre-judging the outcome.

It seems that the EPO management in general (and not just the president) is in need of education regarding the different roles of the executive and the judiciary, as well as the importance of ensuring that one does not interfere with the other.

Whenever the EPO actively pushes for (if not lobbies for, inappropriately and unprofessionally) the UPC it shows rather clearly that it doesn’t envision a future with patent appeals. For what it’s worth, some insiders believe that examination (and thus appeals) is on its way out at the EPO.

“A different view on the relocation of the Boards of Appeal in Haar,” a short paper about the exile of the boards by Battistelli and his tyranny, was recently disseminated internally. In the interests of transparency we have decided to share it below:

Where have the Boards of Appeal gone?

The reform

With CA/D 6/16, the Administrative Council (AC) decided to create a new organisational entity, the “Boards of Appeal Unit”1 (BoAU). Comprised of the Boards of Appeal and the Enlarged Board of Appeal, including their registries and support services, the new unit shall be directed by a “President of the Boards of Appeal” (PBoA) to be appointed by the Administrative Council in accordance with new Rule 12a(1) EPC. Therefore, with effect from the 1st July 2016, DG3 has been disbanded and replaced by the BoAU.

The PBoA is to manage the Boards of Appeal Unit using functions and powers transferred to him by the President of the Office (PEPO) in an Act of Delegation2. In particular, the PBoA is expected to prepare resource requests to cover the needs of the Unit: the PEPO is then expected to provide the necessary resources (see new Rule 12a(2, 3) EPC).

The building

Although most stakeholders did not see any problem retaining the Unit in the Isar building, the PEPO insisted that relocation had to be included as part of the whole reform package in order to “improve the perception of independence”. In Part C of CA/43/16 Rev.1, the AC approved the principle of the removal of the BoA from the Isar building, but keeping them in the Munich area “in a location with good traffic links and appropriate accommodation standards”.

Although the first PBoA has not yet been appointed by the AC, nevertheless the Administration has been very active during the summer in defining the needs of the BoAU and identifying a “suitable” building in the location. Early in July, a few buildings in Munich were inspected for consideration together with representatives of the BoAU, but the Administration found none of them suitable. Shortly afterwards, Principal Director General Administration (PD44) publically announced that a suitable building had now been found and that the BoAU relocation was already scheduled to take place on 1st July 2017 to Richard-Reitzner-Allee 8 in Haar, a city of about 20 000 residents in the Munich hinterland. The chosen “8inOne” building was renovated by its owner to a “very high standard” in 2014, essentially following the concept of open-space offices. It has remained empty since then.

Not all details have been made public yet. However, it is a safe assumption that the rent should be much lower than in more desirable locations in Munich, although the building will have to be refurbished to accommodate individual offices, rooms for oral proceeding and other facilities and adapted to accommodate EPO IT systems. In order to amortise the costs of refurbishment, the contract would commit the Office to remain in the location for 15 years. This long commitment contrasts starkly with the hurried process of finalising the plans and then submitting a complete, formal proposal for approval in the October meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee (BFC).

The needs of the BoAU

This “rush to complete” is all the more problematic as the proposal doesn’t properly take into account the actual needs of the BoAU. The Boards themselves have expressed not only general concerns3 about the present situation; they also have concrete reservations on the suitability of the building for a proper functioning of the unit. To summarise, the Presidium concluded that the building will not offer enough space4 (or all the facilities) necessary for a proper functioning of the Boards and has informed the PEPO accordingly. For more details, [x] suggest that you read the publication5 by the Presidium. In a first response to addressing these problems, the President has decided to plan an additional two meeting rooms and to rent more space for a library in the basement.

The new reform of the BoA entails aspects of both perceived independence and performance improvement. It is obvious to us that the resources presently planned for the BoAU are woefully insufficient to produce the necessary improvements that will realise these goals since the working conditions are neither adequate nor appropriate for such judicial activities.

The needs of staff

From a staff perspective, the relocation would obviously be detrimental for the majority. Although the building is located outside Munich, perceived independence should not be confused with physical isolation. Besides, the offices are too small, the meeting rooms are too few, and the building has no other facilities or “social” rooms. It means that services normally offered to EPO staff in Munich (fitness room, Amicale room, medical and administrative facilities) won’t be available for EPO staff in Haar. Staff will be heavily impeded in availing themselves of these services if it means that they have to travel to the Isar building or to the Pschorrhöfe for them. The Administration already admits that the current canteen is too small to accommodate both EPO staff and staff from other tenants, not to mention visiting patent attorneys and the general public. As a workaround, they propose making use of local external outlets, but these appear to be insufficient and inadequate, thereby rendering the proposal impractical.

The Office praises itself for being a model employer offering numerous amenities to its employees. However, [x] can only conclude that staff at the Haar site would be disadvantaged when compared with their colleagues at Munich sites.

When this is combined with the conditions of employment resulting from the reform of the BoA (for example the limitations in the security of tenure6 , the capping of the career progression7 and increased constraints in post-service activities8), all these factors may prompt more active BoAU staff to retire earlier. With further reforms (pensions, etc.) expected to further worsen conditions of employment, all these changes will reduce the attractiveness of the BoAU as an employer and complicate (long-overdue) recruitment.

Consultation

Staff in the BoAU perceives the reform process as both intransparent and non bona fide. To date, the statutorily required consultation with staff representation has not taken place. According to PD44, the floor plan (“Raumbelegungsplan”) had to be finalised in August. In our view, this renders the probability of statutory consultation leading to any improvement in the reform as unpromising.

A vision

There appears to be no clear, long-term AC vision for the Boards of Appeal.

In the AC meeting of June 2016, delegations kept advocating a quick ratification of the UPC Agreement thereby creating a Unified Patent Court, although its setting-up now seems subject to increasing uncertainty due to Brexit. They appear to align with the PEPO in this respect9. Anyway, legal study concluded that the number of cases migrating from the BoA to the UPC would be a very modest one.

The number of unfilled posts in the BoA has significantly increased10 from 2014 on and this worrisome trend continues unabated. At the same time, the upward production trend in DG1 does not suggest that we should expect any decrease in the number of appeals in the future, assuming [x] maintain a constant quality in the decisions of the first-instance Examining and Opposition Divisions.

[x] wonder whether the AC delegations should realistically expect such an efficiency boost in the BoAU, with new procedures so streamlined11 that the BoAU can both master the caseload and reduce the pendency with reduced resources. [x] suggest they should reconsider their options before embarking on a relocation project which already does not seem future-proof.

Conclusion

By hastily preparing a proposal to relocate the BoAU from the Isar building into the Munich hinterland, the PEPO pre-empts an action that should be assigned to the PBoA, in accordance with new Rule 12a(3) EPC, for the sake of improved (perceived) independence. Furthermore, the building does not meet the needs of the BoAU and its users (patent attorneys and public) and therefore cannot be said to meet the goal set by the AC of “appropriate accommodation standards”. It further deteriorates the working conditions of staff in the Unit whilst at the same time committing the PBoA and the Office to a long-terms contract.

It remains to be seen whether the BFC (and the AC) will actually condone what could be seen as an original sin.

________
1Unit: “a single thing, person, or group that is a constituent of a whole; a part of a military establishment that has a prescribed organization as of personnel and materiel” (Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)
2 See Part II of Annex 3 of CA/43/16 Rev.1
3 See the “AMBA Statement on the Current Situation” on the AMBA site
4 It is unclear whether the rented net surface amounts to 10740 m2, as mentioned by PD44, or to 9089 m2, as calculated by the Boards. Presently, the Boards have roughly 13000m2 in the Isar building.
5 Unfortunately, access to this publication is presently restricted to the BoAU
6 see new Rule 12d(3) EPC
7 see new Article 11 ServRegs as amended in CA/D 8/16
8 see CA/D 5/16
9 See Gazette August 2016, page 11: “I don’t see any reason why the UK couldn’t still ratify the UPC.”
10 See page 4/72 of the social report CA/55/16 Corr. 1
11 Pursuant to new Rule 12c(1) EPC, the BOAC as an emanation of the AC adopts the Rules of Procedure of the BoA, instead of the Presidium in the older days.

More information can be found in this article (in German, accurate translations are desirable).

Regarding the President of the Boards of Appeal, it seems certain that Battistelli is going to replace and maybe even eject Mr. Van der Eijk. According to a source, “he’s to be replaced” after being flagged as “ill” for a conspicuously long time (we wrote about it last year). “I don´t know his whereabouts,” this source told us. We may post an update about this pretty soon. Some people speculated that he had been punished for disloyalty to Battistelli (which is very much warranted), but we could never ascertain/verify this claim.

As Expected, Misleading Coverage Regarding Software Patents in the Wake of McRO v Bandai Namco

Posted in America, Patents at 5:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Reuters and Software Patents

Summary: How media which is dominated or steered by patent law firms covered the McRO v Bandai Namco case, and why it’s bound to mislead a lot of people into thinking that software patents are OK

YESTERDAY we wrote about how patent law firms had turned rather nasty against anyone who enforces Alice and trashes software patents in lieu with the law. These firm are losing the battle, so now they play dirty. As far as we are aware, the McRO v Bandai Namco decision was first reported on by IAM and quickly thereafter mentioned by pro-software patents people (along with the misleading headline). In a nutshell, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) defended a few software patents (or just one single patent!) in one rare case (less than 10% of the time do we see such an outcome at CAFC), so patent maximalists make a lot of noise and try to amplify the message (whilst ignoring the decisions they dislike because it’s not supportive of their agenda and ‘sales’). We expect to see a lot more articles about McRO v Bandai Namco because it is good marketing of their ‘services’ (or ‘products’). They are hoping — inter alia — to help their large clients’ agenda.

“These firm are losing the battle, so now they play dirty.”“Don’t Assume an Abstract Idea” was the headline at Patently-O today. It said: “In an important Eligibility case, the Federal Circuit has ruled that MRCO’s software patent claims are eligible — rejecting District Court Judge Wu’s judgement on the pleadings that the non-business-method claims are invalid as effectively claiming an abstract idea. In my 2014 post in the case I wrote that the case may serve as an opportunity fo the Federal Circuit “to draw a new line in the sand.””

“Federal Circuit rules software patents valid in McRO v Bandai Namco” was the headline in MIP. The truth of the matter is, the Federal Circuit did not rule software patents valid but only very particular patents (or patent), in one single case (it almost always finds software patents invalid). As long as the US Supreme Court does not rule again on software patents (and as we noted here before, no such case is pending at all right now), Alice still stands, it is very much applicable, and software patents are effectively or generally dead. CAFC must follow the lead of the Supremes (Justices). That’s just how the law works.

“We expect to see a lot more articles about McRO v Bandai Namco because it is good marketing of their ‘services’ (or ‘products’).”The following headline (shown at the top) from Reuters is basically a lie. Software makers (developers) don’t want software patents; few oligarchs that own large software monopolies may want them (e.g. IBM and Microsoft), but not actual software makers, people like yours truly. “Animation patent saved, software makers exhale,” says the headline of this report, but every software maker (coder) out there is probably mortified by the idea that patent trolls with their software patents can use this decision to bolster their campaign of intimidation (patent shakedown). This is the same spin as found in the seminal headline from IAM — spin which strives to convince us that software makers actually want software patents. It’s a lie.

Speaking of software patents, watch the details of an upcoming event where software patents lobbyist David Kappos (and former USPTO Director) will share the stage with the current Director who reportedly denies fraud at the USPTO. “Michelle Lee has testified before a House of Representatives committee amid accusations of USPTO examiners claiming unsupported hours,” MIP wrote. In addition, the chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board will be there. To quote IAM: “Joining keynote speaker USPTO Director Michelle Lee will be the chief judge of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, David Ruschke, ex-USPTO Director David Kappos and former Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel. Alongside them will be senior representatives from companies that are closely involved in the ongoing patent reform debate, including Google, Johnson & Johnson, Qualcomm, Bristol-Myers Squibb and IBM. Also in the faculty, we have lead counsel in two of the pivotal Supreme Court patent cases of the last decade – KSR v Teleflex and Cuozzo v Lee – as well as several high-profile patent investors.”

“This is the same spin as found in the seminal headline from IAM — spin which strives to convince us that software makers actually want software patents. It’s a lie.”This seems like a corporate lobbying event, much like that EPO-supported pro-UPC event that IAM set up in the US earlier this year. We don’t know what will be discussed in this event, but certainly it’s so expensive to attend that it will essentially shut out dissenting views, just like Managing IP recently did (a pro-UPC lobbying event, as we noted last night). The
EPO tends to pay published to sell out these days. Sometimes it works.

Taking note of the arrogance and the audacity of the patent microcosm, see this new article by Robert Sachs, a proponent of software patents. Yesterday he wrote: “Of course, one can say that the Federal Circuit is bound by precedent and has no choice but to follow the Supreme Court. This is true but fails to grasp the problem: The Federal Circuit does not even recognize that the Supreme Court’s definition is wrong. There have been no dissents by the Federal Circuit raising this issue. Instead, they apparently believe that the Supreme Court is correct, and thus only raise other concerns about the application of the Mayo test.”

This is part one of a newly-published series (maybe paper) and when Sachs says that the “Federal Circuit does not even recognize that the Supreme Court’s definition is wrong” he basically flings another nonsensical attack on Alice/Mayo, much like Kappos and other interresants. Over at Patently-O, Professor Crouch goes with the headline “Patent Venue at the Supreme Court: Correcting a 26 Year Old Legal Error” and it’s basically a rant which relates to the VENUE Act — a subject which we covered here before.

“East Texas has been somewhat of a cesspool of patent trolls with their ludicrous software patents and they enjoy favourable treatment from the courts there.”Crouch does not say “patent trolls” but instead speaks of East Texas. He wrote: “Patent litigation continues to be concentrated in a small number of venues. This case is potentially a big deal because it could eliminate this concentration — especially patent cases in the E.D.Texas. Both the PTO and Congress appear in favor of venue reforms, but statutory reforms will likely wait until the Supreme Court decides TC Heartland.”

Well, any such reforms are sorely needed and the sooner, the better. East Texas has been somewhat of a cesspool of patent trolls with their ludicrous software patents and they enjoy favourable treatment from the courts there. It’s time to stop this.

East Asian Patent Activity Viewed by IAM ‘Magazine’ as ‘Proof’ of “IP’s Growing Strategic Role”

Posted in Asia, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 4:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Anyone who says they’re good for you is a liar, or badly informed. And hiding patents behind copyright & trademarks in “intellectual property” is like sugar hiding behind fat and salt. Patents are the sugar of technology.” –Pieter Hintjens, yesterday [1, 2]

The profit motive
The patent maximalists view patents like the war industry views bombs

Summary: The latest fine example of the mentality or the mindset of people who are making money from peddling patents even when these are not needed, let alone desirable

EARLIER THIS month we wrote about the rise of patent trolls in east Asia. There are several new examples of that and regarding a case which we covered here before Dr. Glyn Moody has published “Chinese State Patent Troll Absorbed By Smartphone Maker Xiaomi, Adding To Its Patent Hoard”, citing the same report that we did (from IAM). “The absorption of Ruichuan IPR Funds by Xiaomi,” he explained, “which must have taken place with the Chinese government’s approval — is clearly part of the same strategy of bulking up in the patent department as it prepares to expand abroad. The big question is whether Xiaomi is planning to use its new portfolio purely defensively, so that it can sign cross-licensing deals, or whether it will start going on the offense and sue Western companies in their home markets too.”

As Moody noted a few months ago, China is now using Texas courts to sue large US companies, more or less like trolls, proving that the trigger-happy system in the US can actually work against the US and undermine its dominance in the area of technology.

“IAM views the deal as just a bunch of patents, but it’s the kind of misguided view which assumes patents are physical assets.”IAM has published quite a few articles recently about Japan alone [1, 2, 3, 4] and in them we see IAM’s loaded statements and headlines, insinuating that because patents are being used for corporate wars in Japan it means that patents are desirable. That’s the same logic as “there are many wars, thus we need nuclear weapons” (irrespective of their effect or death toll, not just mutually-assured destruction). Another newer article mentioned the acquisition by HP of Samsung’s printer business (or a bundle of Samsung patents if one thinks the IAM way) and added that “Samsung Electronics announced yesterday that it had reached an agreement to sell its printer business to HP for $1.05 billion. The deal, which will see Samsung shed a significant number of IP assets, marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Korean company as it seeks to slim down and refocus on core business areas.”

Samsung has a large number of patents (the largest by some criteria, as measured in particular patent offices), but the company rarely if even uses them to sue. It’s not quite in the Korean tradition (the same goes for LG). IAM views the deal as just a bunch of patents, but it’s the kind of misguided view which assumes patents are physical assets. The use of the term “IP”, moreover, is misleading.

Links 14/9/2016: Arya.ai’s Braid, MySQL Exploit Patched

Posted in News Roundup at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 4 big ways companies benefit from having open source program offices

    At first glance, one big reason why a company not in the business of software development might more enthusiastically embrace an open source program office is because they have less to lose. After all, they’re not gambling with software products that are directly tied to revenue. Facebook, for example, can easily unleash a distributed key-value datastore as an open source project because they don’t sell a product called “enterprise key-value datastore.” That answers the question of risk, but it still doesn’t answer the question of what they gain from contributing to the open source ecosystem. Let’s look at a few potential reasons and then tackle each. You’ll notice a lot of overlap with vendor open source program offices, but some of the motivations are slightly different.

  • Everyone Wins With Open Source Software

    As open source software matures and is used by more and more major corporations, it is becoming clear that the enterprise software game has changed. Sam Ramji, CEO of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, believes that open source software is a positive sum game, as reflected in his keynote at ApacheCon in Vancouver in May.

    Invoking his love of game theory, Ramji stated emphatically that open source software is a positive-sum game, where the more contributors there are to the common good, the more good there is for everyone. This idea is the opposite of a zero-sum game, where if someone benefits or wins, then another person must suffer, or lose.

  • 15 Top Open Source Artificial Intelligence Tools

    In a recent article, we provided an overview of 45 AI projects that seem particularly promising or interesting. In this slideshow, we’re focusing in on open source artificial intelligence tools, with a closer look at fifteen of the best-known open source AI projects.

  • To gamify or not to gamify community

    Years ago I was at a Canonical sprint in Europe, where a colleague, who was an active gamer, shared his idea for some kind of high-scores system in which community members could compete in the way they contributed. His off-the-cuff idea got me thinking.

    Although a competitive framework was not interesting to me—we had tried a hall of fame, which ultimately didn’t deliver the results we wanted—the idea of a gamification platform got me excited.

  • The future of money

    What happens when the way we buy, sell and pay for things changes, perhaps even removing the need for banks or currency exchange bureaus? That’s the radical promise of a world powered by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. We’re not there yet, but in this sparky talk, digital currency researcher Neha Narula describes the collective fiction of money — and paints a picture of a very different looking future.

  • Bitmain launches open-source bitcoin mining pool

    Bitmain, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of Bitcoin mining hardware, has announced the launch of an open-source bitcoin mining pool, as a part of its free bitcoin block explorer, analytics tool and bitcoin wallet BTC.com.

  • Bitmain Launches BTC.Com, a New Open-source Bitcoin Mining Pool with Zero Mining Fee!
  • In Race for Bitcoin Mining Profits, Fortune Favors the Old
  • New BTC.Com Mining Pool Wants To Set New Min ing Standards
  • One of Bitcoin’s Biggest Miners is Launching a Second Pool
  • Bitmain’s BTC.Com Mining Pool Goes Live
  • Open Source Execution without Dropping Windows

    IT managers are seeking alternative ways to replace their legacy software, without dropping Windows operating system due to high cost implementation and license dependency of proprietary software. Open Source software has found its way into enterprises infrastructures as it provides access to third party vendors and developers to modify the software and publish them. They are also known as Free or Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS). FLOSS licenses users with the freedom to study and modify the program, to run for any function and to redistribute copies of either the original or modified source code (without having to pay royalties to previous developers). And, enterprises can update the FLOSS executions according to their requirement and also publish it for the other user’s requirement. This is one of the reasons why enterprises appreciate Open Source products and its advantages.

    Due to the open nature of the software, the design deliberations are open in contrast to the closed processes of proprietary vendors’ software. Also, the Open Source software products are easy to assess and evaluate with the help of the Community and Help pages. Open Source allows anyone to contribute code and permits software to integrate with not commonly encountered use cases, that a proprietary vendor would least taken into consideration. In terms of innovation, the Open Source development reflects Bill Joy’s law: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” That is unfeigned for all the software vendors, so leveraging a product with potentially larger developer base enables access to greater innovation.

  • Startup Arya.ai Launches Open Source AI Tool Braid

    Braid is designed as an open source tool for developing artificial intelligence (AI) systems. According to Vinay Kumar Sankarapu, CEO and founder of Arya.ai, by introducing open sourcing key tools in AI, the emerging field will grow faster and developers will be able to easily design more impactful applications.

  • Arya.ai’s Braid Aims to Weave Together Neural Network Components

    Startup Arya.ai on Monday introduced Braid, an open source tool available for free to companies developing neural networks. Braid is a flexible, customizable, modular meta-framework that works with operating systems for deep learning. It is designed for rapid development and to support arbitrary network designs. It is simple and scalable, for use with networks that need to handle many data points at large volume, Arya.ai said. Braid allows for quick experimentation without having to worry about the boilerplate components of the code.

  • Arya.ai launches Braid to integrate ‘deep learning’ into systems
  • Arya.ai announces the global launch of ‘Braid’, an Open Source deep learning tool
  • Arya.ai Launches AI Tool To Build Intelligence Quickly Into Systems
  • Open Source Release Cycle Tyranny

    The little talked about stress of Open Source project release management…

    So I really enjoy writing code. Been doing it for years, since I was 8! I still do it now when work needs me to, or in my less than copious free time.

    The problem I tend to find on these projects is that you can make them as simple or as complex as you like. This can be a curse and a blessing.

    For me it tends to be a curse.

  • Oracle’s NetBeans Headed to The Apache Software Foundation

    Oracle’s open-source NetBeans IDE could become the next former Sun Microsystems project to land at the Apache Software Foundation (ASF).

  • Apache Announces Updated Syncope Identity Management Toolset

    In recent posts, we’ve taken note of the many projects that the Apache Software Foundation has been moving up to Top-Level Status. The organization incubates more than 350 open source projects and initiatives, and has squarely turned its focus to Big Data and developer-focused tools in recent months. As Apache moves Big Data projects to Top-Level Status, they gain valuable community support and more.

    Recently, Apache Bahir became a Top-Level Project (TLP). Now, the foundation has announced that it is making available Apache Syncope 2.0, a digital identity and access management system. Implemented in Java EE technology, Apache Syncope is designed to keep enterprise identity data consistent and synchronized across repositories, data formats, and models.

    “Syncope 2.0.0 is a major milestone for the community,” said Francesco Chicchiriccò, Vice President of Apache Syncope, and one of the original creators of the project. “The numbers of this release look great –new features, new components and tools, new contributors, more enterprise appeal, and even more extensibility.”

  • Events

    • Bastille to Lead Industry Discussions on Wireless Hacking at GNU Radio Conference 2016

      Researchers Balint Seeber, Marc Newlin and Matt Knight to Speak and Host Wireless Hacking Challenge for Conference Attendees

    • The Future at the Internet’s Edge

      With the current focus on the cloud it might seem that the Internet works from the center out — if the Internet can be said to have a center. And with the massive move of IT infrastructure to the cloud, DevOps folks might be wondering what this means for the future of their careers and if increasing centralization will mean a shrinking job market, a question Robert Shimp with Oracle’s Linux and virtualization unit, took a stab at answering at last month’s LinuxCon.

      [...]

      Shimp was giving a presentation on “Linux Administration in Distributed Cloud Computing Environments.” Despite the use of the word “Linux” in the title (it was LinuxCon, after all), he spent the first half of his presentation laying out his vision for what the Internet holds in store, with none of it being Linux specific. The future, it seems, will almost certainly be operating system agnostic.

    • Keynote: Open Source is a Positive-Sum Game – Sam Ramji, CEO, Cloud Foundry Foundation
    • Free Software Directory recapping the “Golden Oldies” meeting
    • FSF Events: Free Software Foundation community meetup (Washington, D.C.)

      Come share snacks and refreshments with the free software community. FSF campaigns manager Zak Rogoff will be happy to talk about our ongoing battle against Digital Restrictions Management in Web standards, the recent European net neutrality victory, our role in the new White House source code policy, and almost anything else you ask him about. The FSF will provide the first round of snacks and beers, with more available from the menu.

      This is an informal gathering for anyone interested in spending time with the free software community or learning more about the FSF; you are welcome, whether you are free software noob or hacker extraodinaire.

  • Databases

    • MySQL 0-day could lead to total system compromise
    • MySQL Exploit Evidently Patched

      News began circulating yesterday that the popular open source database MySQL contains a publicly disclosed vulnerability that could be used to compromise servers. The flaw was discovered by researcher Dawid Golunski and began getting media attention after he published a partial proof-of-concept of the exploit, which is purposefully incomplete to prevent abuse. He said the exploit affects “all MySQL servers in default configuration in all version branches (5.7, 5.6, and 5.5) including the latest versions.” In addition, MariaDB and Percona DB which are derived from MySQL are affected.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • NetBeans Java IDE Might Become An Apache Incubator Project

      A proposal posted today is looking to shift the NetBeans integrated development environment from being an Oracle project to one within the Apache incubator space.

      Geertjan Wielenga, an Oracle employee who serves as the project manager for Oracle JET and NetBeans, posted a proposal today looking to offload NetBeans from being the open-source IDE maintained at Oracle to becoming “Apache NetBeans.”

    • Apache NetBeans Incubator Proposal
  • Healthcare

    • Taunton’s open source success: a new era for electronic patient records

      Almost one year ago our organisation, Taunton and Somerset NHS FT, achieved an important milestone in delivering transformational change in our digital programme: we became the first NHS trust to go live with an open source electronic patient record (EPR).

      Some may have perceived this as a risky choice. An open source EPR was untested within the NHS, and NHS organisations can tend to do what everyone else has already tried. Yet we saw that, by having a flexible system that had no licence fees, we would be able to tailor the system as we went along, to suit the needs of our clinicians, patients and our healthcare partners in Somerset.

    • Navigating the challenges of international teamwork

      OpenEMR, OpenMRS, and VisTA are three of the most well-known open source applications in the health IT genre. OpenEMR has worldwide acceptance as a complete and flexible electronic healthcare records (EHR) system that can be tweaked with relative ease to work anywhere. That is evident in its adoption by the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, the Peace Corps, and most recently by the Health Services Dept of Israel. OpenMRS is a respected tool set and API that has been predominantly used in Africa, and has been adopted for targeted healthcare needs all over the world. Despite being a US-based project, its adoption in the US is minimal. VisTA is the US Veteran’s Administration EHR and it is now, due mainly to the formation of OSEHRA.org, beginning to get traction in other countries as a solution to the high cost of proprietary EHR systems for hospitals. New on the horizon are projects like FHIR, started in Australia, and adopted by hl7.org.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Udacity plans to build its own open-source self-driving car

      Sebastian Thrun’s online education startup Udacity recently created a self-driving car engineering nanodegree, and on stage at Disrupt today Thrun revealed that the company intends to build its own self-driving car as part of the program, and that it also intends to open source the technology that results, so that “anyone” can try to build their own self-driving vehicle, according to Thrun.

      The crowdsourced vehicle plans will ultimately be created in service of the school, rather than a product in and of itself. The open-sourcing of the data should help other projects ramp up, and will include driving data and more to contribute to other people’s projects.

    • Q&A: SFU alumna launching new “open source” food co-op

      SFU alumna Jennifer Zickerman is making it easier to access locally grown, high quality herbs through her venture, the Lower Mainland Herb Growers Co-op.

      The co-operative offers economy of scale to local small growers growing culinary herbs. It will buy fresh herbs from local growers, then dry and package them as culinary herb blends and distribute them to retail stores.

      Zickerman first developed this business idea as a student in SFU’s Community Economic Development (CED) program. She pitched it as part of the program’s annual Social Innovation Challenge, winning $12,000 to implement her idea.

      The co-op’s high quality products aim to replace the poor quality dried herbs found in most retail stores that are imported from countries with poor environmental and labour standards.

      Local farmers will also have a new market for a crop that grows well in this climate and requires few artificial supports such as fertilizer, pesticides and greenhouses.

    • Open Data

      • Chile’s green energy future is powered by open data analysis

        Open source software and open data play key roles in implementing Chile’s long-term energy planning, identifying ways to get the maximum value from development, minimizing its impact, and requiring less development overall.

        Over the past two years, our company—in partnership with the Centro UC Cambio Global of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile—has been designing, building, and testing a framework to support Chile’s Ministry of Energy in policy evaluation and regional hydroelectric power planning activities. Open source software and open data play a key role in this framework, but before I explain how, I need to summarize the context.

      • DYNAcity project starts mobility pilot in Flemish City of Ghent

        The mobility service is based on information published on the open data portal of the City of Ghent. It also incorporates data from innovative sources like thermal cameras and a carpool system. Participants in the pilot will receive travel advice each morning through a pop-up on their mobile phones.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

  • Programming/Development

    • How to help developers help themselves

      Developers need help. It comes with the territory for software companies employing thousands of developers, many who live and work in remote locations all over the world. At Red Hat, Rafael Benevides doles out lots of help. He teaches developers about tools and practices so they can be more productive, and he’ll be taking the show on the road for the tech conference All Things Open this year where he’ll share his specfic thoughts on cloud development.

Leftovers

  • Adblock Plus finds the end-game of its business model: Selling ads

    Eyeo GmbH, the company that makes the popular Adblock Plus software, will today start selling the very thing many of its users hate—advertisements. Today, the company is launching a self-service platform to sell “pre-whitelisted” ads that meet its “acceptable ads” criteria. The new system will let online publishers drag and drop advertisements that meet Eyeo’s expectations for size and labeling.

    “The Acceptable Ads Platform helps publishers who want to show an alternative, nonintrusive ad experience to users with ad blockers by providing them with a tool that lets them implement Acceptable Ads themselves,” said Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus.

    Publishers who place the ads will do so knowing that they won’t be blocked by most of the 100 million Adblock Plus users. The software extension’s default setting allows for “acceptable ads” to be shown, and more than 90 percent of its users don’t change that default setting.

    Eyeo started its “acceptable ads” program in 2011. With the new platform, it hopes to automate and scale up a process that until now has been a cumbersome negotiation. What once could take weeks, the company boasts in today’s statement, now “takes only seconds.”

  • Science

    • 5 Ways The Modern World Is Shockingly Ready To Collapse

      As technology embraces the digital, abandoning the crude and primitive notion of “physical existence” entirely, the idea that you actually own the media you buy is vanishing faster than that goddamn Walkman you swore was in the closet. And it’s more than inconvenient for consumers; it may be apocalyptic for our society.

      [...]

      If you tried to purchase an Adobe product recently, you’re already aware of this trend. As of 2013, you can no longer buy programs such as Photoshop, Flash, or Dreamweaver. You can only “subscribe” to them for a monthly fee. Yes, now you have the privilege of paying for your software forever. Isn’t the future wonderful?

  • Hardware

    • Kernel NET Policy Still Being Tackled For Simplified, Better Networking Performance

      With the latest version of the patches, the NET policy subsystem is now disabled by default, the queue selection algorithm has been modified, amd there are various other changes. For those failing to remember what this is all about, “NET policy intends to simplify the network configuration and get a good network performance according to the hints(policy) which is applied by user. It provides some typical “policies” for user which can be set per-socket, per-task or per-device. The kernel will automatically figures out how to merge different requests to get good network performance. NET policy is designed for multiqueue network devices. This implementation is only for Intel NICs using i40e driver. But the concepts and generic code should apply to other multiqueue NICs too.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Philip Morris loses investment arbitration against Uruguay’s anti-tobacco legislation

      Furthermore, Mr. Born held that the terms of the Switzerland-Uruguay Bilateral Investment Treaty cannot be understood to provide the host state
      with a ‘margin of appreciation’ – a concept developed in a different context, namely the European Convention on Human Rights. The case has been used by NGOs (see for instance the Global Justice Now website) as an example of the allegedly deterrent effect of investment arbitration on states that intend to issue public health measures (so-called ‘regulatory chill’). The dismissal of Philip Morris’ claims shows that such fears are largely unfounded. On the other hand, even though the arbitral tribunal’s majority decision is well-reasoned, the question remains whether it is appropriate to bring about a result whereby a lawful business can be subjected to a such severe restriction in respect of core assets, such as its brands, without being paid any compensation (even in case of a public health measure). In this respect, the dissenting opinion of Mr. Born raises convincing arguments in favour of Philip Morris.

    • Abolish Bottled Water

      Bottled water is a con. It makes about as much sense as designer bottled air, but after a few decades on the market, one’s instinct often says to reach for a bottle of Dasani when your mouth’s dry and brain’s half-pickled on a hot day. It’s not water, it’s Water, baby!

      Bottled water in Canada comes from aquifers near the Great Lakes, where it’s pumped for $3.71 per million litres by companies that later sell it for a massive profit. This is in a country where dozens of First Nations communities are living under decades-long boil water advisories, and all of their drinkable water is trucked in by the bottle. Naturally, it comes from Nestle and other corporate producers.

      Policymakers and activists have raised calls to hike the price that companies pay to pump water from municipal sources, but some experts say that doesn’t go far enough. Instead, according to critics, the practice of pumping water for a profit should be banned wholesale for social and scientific reasons and Nestle’s license to do so shouldn’t be renewed by the provincial government.

  • Security

    • Securing the Programmer

      I have a favorite saying: “If you are a systems administrator, you have the keys to the kingdom. If you are an open-source programmer, you don’t know which or how many kingdoms you have the keys to.” We send our programs out into the world to be run by anyone for any purpose. Think about that: by anyone, for any purpose. Your code might be running in a nuclear reactor right now, or on a missile system or on a medical device, and no one told you. This is not conjecture; this is everyday reality. Case in point: the US Army installed gpsd on all armor (tanks, armored personnel carriers and up-armored Humvees) without telling its developers.

      This article focuses on the needs of infrastructure software developers—that is, developers of anything that runs as root, has a security function, keeps the Internet as a whole working or is life-critical. Of course, one never knows where one’s software will be run or under what circumstances, so feel free to follow this advice even if all you maintain is a toddler login manager. This article also covers basic security concepts and hygiene: how to think about security needs and how to keep your development system in good shape to reduce the risk of major computing security mishaps.

    • Software-Defined Security Market Worth 6.76 Billion USD by 2021
    • Two critical bugs and more malicious apps make for a bad week for Android
    • Let’s Encrypt Aiming to Encrypt the Web

      By default, the web is not secure, enabling data to travel in the clear, but that’s a situation that is easily corrected through the use of SSL/TLS. A challenge with implementing Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security has been the cost to acquire an SSL/TSL certificate from a known Certificate Authority (CA), but that has changed in 2016, thanks to the efforts of Let’s Encrypt.

      Let’s Encrypt is a non-profit effort that that was was announced in November 2014 and became a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project in April 2015. Let’s Encrypt exited its beta period in April 2016 and to date has provided more than 5 million free certificates.

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • [Mozilla:] Cybersecurity is a Shared Responsibility

      There have been far too many “incidents” recently that demonstrate the Internet is not as secure as it needs to be. Just in the past few weeks, we’ve seen countless headlines about online security breaches. From the alleged hack of the National Security Agency’s “cyberweapons” to the hack of the Democratic National Committee emails, and even recent iPhone security vulnerabilities, these stories reinforce how crucial it is to focus on security.

      Internet security is like a long chain and each link needs to be tested and re-tested to ensure its strength. When the chain is broken, bad things happen: a website that holds user credentials (e.g., email addresses and passwords) is compromised because of weak security; user credentials are stolen; and, those stolen credentials are then used to attack other websites to gain access to even more valuable information about the user.

      One weak link can break the chain of security and put Internet users at risk. The chain only remains strong if technology companies, governments, and users work together to keep the Internet as safe as it can be.

    • IoT malware exploits DVRs, home cameras via default passwords

      The Internet of Things business model dictates that devices be designed with the minimum viable security to keep the products from blowing up before the company is bought or runs out of money, so we’re filling our homes with net-connected devices that have crummy default passwords, and the ability to probe our phones and laptops, and to crawl the whole internet for other vulnerable systems to infect.

      Linux/Mirai is an ELF trojan targeting IoT devices, which Malware Must Die describes as the most successful ELF trojan. It’s very difficult to determine whether these minimal-interface devices are infected, but lab tests have discovered the malware in a wide range of gadgets.

    • Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet

      First, a little background. If you want to take a network off the Internet, the easiest way to do it is with a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). Like the name says, this is an attack designed to prevent legitimate users from getting to the site. There are subtleties, but basically it means blasting so much data at the site that it’s overwhelmed. These attacks are not new: hackers do this to sites they don’t like, and criminals have done it as a method of extortion. There is an entire industry, with an arsenal of technologies, devoted to DDoS defense. But largely it’s a matter of bandwidth. If the attacker has a bigger fire hose of data than the defender has, the attacker wins.

    • Internet’s defences being probed: security expert

      A big player, most possibly a nation state, has been testing the security of companies that run vital parts of the Internet’s infrastructure, according to well-known security expert Bruce Schneier.

      In an essay written for the Lawfare blog, Schneier, an inventor of the Blowfish, Twofish and Yarrow algorithms, said that the probes which had been observed appeared to be very carefully targeted and seemed to be testing what exactly would be needed to compromise these corporations.

      Schneier said he did not know who was carrying out the probes but, at a first guess, said it was either China or Russia.

      Pointing out that the easiest way to take a network off the Internet was by using a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, he said that major firms that provide the basic infrastructure to make the Internet work had recently seen an escalation of such attacks.

    • Hackers smear Olympic athletes with data dump of medical files

      Hackers are trying to tarnish the U.S. Olympic team by releasing documents they claim show athletes including gymnast Simone Biles and tennis players Venus and Serena Williams used illegal substances during the Rio Games.

      The medical files, allegedly from the World Anti-Doping Agency, were posted Tuesday on a site bearing the name of the hacking group Fancy Bears. “Today we’d like to tell you about the U.S. Olympic team and their dirty methods to win,” said a message on the hackers’ site.

      The World Anti-Doping Agency confirmed it had been hacked and blamed Fancy Bears, a Russian state-sponsored cyber espionage team that is also known as APT 28 — the very same group that may have recently breached the Democratic National Committee.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • What If America Happened To Forget The September 11th Attacks?

      The United States will never forget the September 11th attacks. It is interwoven into the fabric of the nation. Its identity is partially defined by remembering the horror that unfolded that day, but that is part of why a provocative question must be asked: What if America happened to forget the attacks?

      For fifteen years, politicians, military leaders, celebrities, corporate executives, as well as the families of those killed on 9/11, have deployed the words “Never Forget” when speaking about the attacks. The words function as a kind of pledge, a loyalty oath to show one’s allegiance to the country. Those who do not pledge to “Never Forget” may not be as American as those who openly relive trauma by sharing where they were that day, even if these individuals were nowhere near the World Trade Center or the Pentagon.

      Yet, what are people pledging when they reflexively attach these words to memories or statements?

      Pentagon Deputy Secretary Bob Work declared at the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial the “enemy” will “fail because all of us as Americans will never forget what we stand for. We will remain steadfast in our determination to stamp out this evil and secure a better future for our children. And we will work together collectively to create a world free from terror and oppression.”

      Work also said, “We must never allow—never allow—those who were lost to ever fade from our memories…as well as those who have sacrificed in the long wars ever since. And we must continue to allow them to motivate us in our continuing struggle against those who would seek to destroy that which we hold dear.”

    • #NeverForget911 . Wait, did something happen yesterday besides #ClintonCollapse ? I forgot.

      #NeverForget911 . Wait, did something happen yesterday besides #ClintonCollapse ? I forgot.

      OK, ok, serious now. It’s been 15 years now people, so we can talk about this kind of thing, ‘kay? That’s what anniversaries are for, after all.

      Peter Bergen, at CNN, who is often the sanest clown in the CNN circus, tell us that al Qaeda really blew it on 9/11.

      “Like the attack on Pearl Harbor,” says Bergen, “9/11 was a great tactical victory for America’s enemies. But in both these cases the tactical success of the attacks was not matched by strategic victories. Quite the reverse.” He goes on to remind us the U.S. totally kicked Japan’s butt.

      Now it can get a little fuzzy when you try to jam 9/11 and al Qaeda into the Saving Private Ryan narrative framework. So it’s important to understand what Bergen thinks al Qaeda’s goal was with the attacks 15 years ago. I’ll quote him so when I call him an idiot a bit later, you’ll understand my reasoning:

      “Bin Laden believed that al Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington would result in an American withdrawal from the Middle East. Instead, the United States quickly toppled the Taliban and al Qaeda… The United States not only did not reduce its influence in the Middle East, but it also established or added to massive bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. And, of course, it also occupied both Afghanistan and Iraq. Bin Laden’s tactical victory on 9/11 turned out to be a spectacular strategic flop.”

    • In Leaked Emails, Iraq War Architect Expressed Relief That Brexit Distracted From U.K. War Inquiry

      Newly leaked emails show how a key U.K. architect of the Iraq war expressed relief that the “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union would reduce media coverage of the devastating results of an inquiry into the United Kingdom’s role in the the war.

      On July 4, former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw emailed former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss the upcoming release of the Chilcot Report– a document detailing the British government’s inquiry. The report probed, among other things, the depth of private British commitment and support for the American-led war in Iraq.

      In anticipation of coming press coverage, Straw asked Powell to review a statement in a Word document he drafted. He wrote that the “only silver lining of the Brexit vote is that it will reduce medium term attention on Chilcot — thought it will not stop the day of publication being uncomfortable.”

    • Pushing NATO to Russia’s Southern Flank

      In pursuit of a new Cold War with Russia, Official Washington wants to expand NATO into the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia, creating the potential for nuclear war to protect a sometimes reckless “ally,” writes Jonathan Marshall.

    • The Existential Madness of Putin-Bashing

      Official Washington loves its Putin-bashing but demonizing the Russian leader stops a rational debate about U.S.-Russia relations and pushes the two nuclear powers toward an existential brink, writes Robert Parry.

    • ‘They Let Everybody Know the US Was on the Side of This Coup’ – CounterSpin interview with Mark Weisbrot on the ouster of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
    • China and Russia Press Ahead, Together

      The G20 summit in China marked a possible tectonic shift in global economic power, with China’s President Xi pushing for a new model based on physical connectivity, like “One Belt, One Road,” writes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

    • Post-9/11’s Self-Inflicted Wounds

      The damage done to U.S. foreign policy in the wake of the 9/11 attacks was largely self-inflicted, a case of wildly overreacting to Al Qaeda’s bloody provocation, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

    • Al Qaeda’s Ties to US-Backed Syrian Rebels

      The new ceasefire agreement between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, which went into effect at noon Monday, has a new central compromise absent from the earlier ceasefire agreement that the same two men negotiated last February. But it isn’t clear that it will produce markedly different results.

      The new agreement incorporates a U.S.-Russian bargain: the Syrian air force is prohibited from operating except under very specific circumstances in return for U.S.-Russian military cooperation against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIS or ISIL. That compromise could be a much stronger basis for an effective ceasefire, provided there is sufficient motivation to carry it out fully.

    • Israel’s Bogus Civil War

      Is Israel on the verge of civil war, as a growing number of Israeli commentators suggest, with its Jewish population deeply riven over the future of the occupation?

      On one side is a new peace movement, Decision at 50, stuffed with former political and security leaders. Ehud Barak, a previous prime minister who appears to be seeking a political comeback, may yet emerge as its figurehead.

      The group has demanded the government hold a referendum next year – the half-centenary of Israel’s occupation, which began in 1967 – on whether it is time to leave the territories. Its own polling shows a narrow majority ready to concede a Palestinian state.

    • Donald Trump, After Blasting Iraq War, Picks Top Iraq Hawk as Security Adviser

      Donald Trump named former CIA director and extremist neoconservative James Woolsey his senior adviser on national security issues on Monday. Woolsey, who left the CIA in 1995, went on to become one of Washington’s most outspoken promoters of U.S. war in Iraq and the Middle East.

      As such, Woolsey’s selection either clashes with Trump’s noninterventionist rhetoric — or represents a pivot towards a more muscular, neoconservative approach to resolving international conflicts.

      Trump has called the Iraq War “a disaster.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • ‘Affair Assange’ – Malicious handling of a political case

      In a few days the Swedish court shall rule on Assange’s freedom; or it will rule in favour of prosecutor Ny. This article deals with prosecutor Marianne Ny’s assaying anew to influence the court, in exactly the same fashion that she did the last time; I question Ny’s statement, made during her press conference, on Swedish prosecutors fairness, ­and that “all should be treated equal”; I base my query on factual cases, i.e. allegations against a right-wing Swedish politician that were similar to the one against Assange, and that were quickly dropped by the prosecutors at the time Assange was under arrest in London by orders of Ny. This article also refers to the Swedish media reactions after the revelations in the recent TV program Uppdraggranskning, which dealt with the extradition of Assange to the US. This program – aired the same day of Ny’s press conference –partly failed to comment, or even mention, the resolution of the UNGWAD ruling for the immediate freedom of Mr Assange; and partly omitted for the Swedish viewers crucial facts which ascertain the absolute existence of a ‘criminal investigation’ against Assange in the US, based among other on the new laws on terrorism. All that makes the extradition of Assange to the US not only ‘probably’ – as publicly acknowledged for the first time in the Swedish state-owned media (or for that part in all mainstream media of Sweden)– but also its request by the US highly incumbent.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Who Is Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline? Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo

      We continue our conversation Food & Water Watch’s Hugh MacMillan about his new investigation that reveals the dozens of financial institutions that are bankrolling the Dakota Access pipeline, including Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase. “They are banking on this company and banking on being able to drill and frack for the oil to send through the pipeline over the coming decades,” MacMillan says. “So they’re providing the capital for the construction of this pipeline.”

    • Wind power is going to get a lot cheaper as wind turbines get even more enormous

      In a nugget of very good news for the renewable energy sector, a survey of 163 wind energy experts has found that in the coming decades, the cost of electricity generated by wind should plunge, by between 24 and 30 percent by the year 2030, and even further by the middle of the century.

      One key reason? New wind projects are about to get even more massive, in both the offshore and onshore sectors. As turbines get taller and access stronger winds, and as rotors increase in diameter, it becomes possible to generate ever more electricity from a single turbine.

      “Our experts clearly anticipate a significant potential for further cost reductions, both onshore and offshore,” said Ryan Wiser of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who conducted the study with colleagues from several other institutions, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an International Energy Agency task force on wind energy.

    • One in 10 UK wildlife species faces extinction, major report shows

      More than one in 10 of the UK’s wildlife species are threatened with extinction and the numbers of the nation’s most endangered creatures have plummeted by two-thirds since 1970, according to a major report.

      The abundance of all wildlife has also fallen, with one in six animals, birds, fish and plants having been lost, the State of Nature report found.

      Together with historical deforestation and industrialisation, these trends have left the UK “among the most nature-depleted countries in the world”, with most of the country having gone past the threshold at which “ecosystems may no longer reliably meet society’s needs”.

      The comprehensive scientific report, compiled by more than 50 conservation organisations, spells out the destructive impact of intensive farming, urbanisation and climate change on habitats from farmland and hills to rivers and the coast. It found that the fall in wildlife over the last four decades cannot be blamed on past harm, but has continued in recent years.

    • Highest Water Levels During Hurricane Hermine

      NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services maintains a permanent observing system that includes 210 continuously operating water level stations throughout the U.S. and its territories. These water level stations provide real-time oceanographic and meteorological observations, which are critical data for communities, particularly during storms impacting the coast.

      This graphic depicts highest water levels along the coast throughout the duration of this storm. Highest water levels are measured in feet above Mean Higher High Water (MHHW). MHHW is defined as the average daily highest tide. Inundation typically begins when water levels exceed MHHW.

  • Finance

    • France backs Barroso ethics inquiry

      French President François Hollande on Tuesday endorsed the investigation into the conduct of former European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso, aimed at deciding if he broke EU law by joining Goldman Sachs in July.

      “I fully support this initiative,” Hollande said, two days after Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ordered a probe into his predecessor’s decision to take up the role as chairman and senior adviser at the international arm of the investment bank.

      “When you know that Goldman Sachs was one of the reasons for the difficulties we encountered” during the financial crisis, “that justifies a procedure, the one that Juncker has just started,” the French president said during a trip to Bucharest, AFP reported.

    • The 101 on how global trade treaties came to threaten the environment

      Such accusations have been made lately against a bewildering alphabet soup of global treaties now under negotiation, including the TTP, TTIP, and TISA.

      NAFTA protests rage on worldwide, reignited by recent Chapter 11 cases and the threat of new and looming trade treaties such as TTP, TTIP and CETA. Photo by Billie Greenwood licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 generic license

    • Globalisation, Glocalisation, Glokatisation

      History tells us periods of globalisation do not come smoothly. According to economic commentator Thomas Friedman, our current era of globalisation is new, unique, terrifying and exciting. As exciting as it is, such change can be disquieting and the spoils of globalisation are not equally distributed. Against this new political and economic backdrop is a political reaction which, consciously or unconsciously, seeks to reverse this trend. This idea of a policy reaction is the subject of a recent US Chamber of Commerce report, “Preventing Deglobalization: An Economic and Security Argument for Free Trade and Investment in ICT.”

      Friedman divides globalisation into three phases. The first, starting with the ‘discovery’ of the Americas, runs from 1492 to 1800, which he argues is the globalisation of countries. The second phase is from 1800 to 2000, a time dominated by the Industrial Revolution, in which companies become globalised. In our present era, from 2000, it is the individual who joins globalisation. Not everyone wins, and periods of increased globalisation are often followed by periods of political turmoil. The ICT sector is a dominant sector driving change in our current wave of globalisation.

    • Census Shows Post-Recession Rebound — But Many Are Still Worse Off Than in 2007

      There is much to cheer in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 report on American incomes, poverty, and health coverage released Tuesday.

      Median real income household income rose 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, and the poverty rate declined by 1.2 percentage points.

      The percentage of Americans without health insurance coverage declined to 9.1 from 10.4 in 2014. Overall, the number of Americans without health insurance declined to 29 million.

      These numbers point to an economy that is seriously starting to rebound from the Great Recession. The Census also notes that number of “full-time, year- round workers increased by 2.4 million in 2015.”

      But many Americans continue to see their incomes lag behind where they were around a decade ago.

      Median household income increased from 2014 to 2015, but it is still 5 percent behind where it was in 2007.

    • Techdirt Podcast Episode 90: Is Capitalism Over?

      As technology ushers more and more things towards the realm of “post-scarcity”, an inevitable conversation has arisen around the very roots of capitalism and what this rapid change means for our economic systems at the most fundamental levels. But the answer is far from simple — is capitalism dying? Can it evolve? Is the whole question being framed incorrectly? This week, we discuss the notion of a post-capitalist world, what it might look like, and how close it actually is.

    • More Details On How Corporate Sovereignty Provisions, Like Those In TPP & TTIP, Are Dangerous

      A few weeks ago, we wrote about a really great and detailed look by BuzzFeed’s Chris Hamby into “investor state dispute settlement” (ISDS) provisions in international trade agreements — something we refer to as corporate sovereignty, because it enables companies to effectively force countries away from certain regulations. Hamby’s piece was about how rich corporate execs were using corporate sovereignty provisions to get out of criminal prosecutions. That was only part I of his investigation. Part II of the series may have been the most useful, because it detailed how the mere threat of an ISDS case could pressure countries into changing regulations. This is super important, because one of the key talking points from defenders of corporate sovereignty provisions is to point to stats on actual cases. But if the threats are really effective, the stats on cases really is only showing a portion of what ISDS is doing.

    • TPP Goes Down to the Wire: Help Stop It by Joining Our Call-In

      It’s now or never for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s almost certain that if the TPP can’t pass during the lame duck session of Congress in its present form before the new President takes office, it won’t pass at all.

      You may also have heard that a lame duck vote on the TPP is off the table—but that’s false. In fact, the administration’s pressure for such a vote to take place following the election has never been greater. Officials held a new round of meetings just last week with business interests to encourage them to sell the flawed agreement to an increasingly skeptical public and Congress. So you shouldn’t believe for a moment that the TPP can’t still pass within the next few months. It can.

    • Security Territory and Population Part 5: Governmentality And Introduction to Foucault’s Method

      As a simple example, for a number of years, Keynesianism was the form of knowledge about the economy. Then it was replaced by neoliberalism. That’s the historical situation as I see it today. Why it changed, the genealogy of that change, is open to discussion. One strand of the discussion can be found in Philip Mirowski’s Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste.

      4. Foucault suggests that the family as a model for the economy had to be overcome and replaced by operations on the population as a whole. As we know, the idea of the family as model for both government and for government of the economy as a whole has not died out, but like most bad ideas will never die.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Donald Trump and the Art of Spinning Secrets Into Lies

      This year, some suggested that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, should not be privy to classified briefings due to his habit of sneezing out the unfiltered contents of his head into the public domain. “This man is dangerous,” said Sen. Harry Reid, the Democrats’ minority leader, in a recent interview. Reid suggested that intelligence officials deceive Trump with phony secrets: “Fake it, pretend you’re doing a briefing,” he said.

      In 1952, Harry Truman started the practice of letting presidential candidates sample secret intelligence. Three candidates have since declined to receive the special briefings — Barry Goldwater in 1964, Walter Mondale in 1984, and Bob Dole in 1996. But how to deal with a candidate who can’t keep his mouth shut? In Trump’s case, fairness prevailed over caution. President Obama decided to admit Trump into the classified world, although this year’s briefings are reportedly classified at the level of secret, not top secret as they were during the 2008 race.

    • FBI calls Clinton email probe ‘different’ as key witness ditches House hearing

      As lawmakers continued to probe Hillary Clinton’s private email use, the aide who set up the service declined to appear before the House committee. FBI officials had to be given a summons to produce documents on the investigation.

      On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee summoned contractors and former State Department officials who set up and maintained Clinton’s email servers and mobile devices. However, the key Clinton aide, Bryan Pagliano, did not show up for the hearing, pleading Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.

      The afternoon before, the committee dressed down FBI’s Acting Assistant Director for Congressional Affairs Jason Herring, who was at pains to explain his absence from a major meeting last week and the bureau’s reluctance to hand over unredacted investigation documents.

    • Clinton Aides Complain About Double Standard, But Media Also Went After Bush Foundation

      Claiming victimhood after critical coverage of Saudi donations to the Clinton Foundation, Hillary Clinton campaign Press Secretary Brian Fallon recently whined on Twitter that comparable Saudi links to a Bush family foundation didn’t receive anything like the same level of media scrutiny.

    • Samantha Bee: Have We Come to Demand ‘Meaningless Campaign Coverage’ From Our Media? (Video)

      A furious “Full Frontal” host returned from a break to rail against NBC’s Matt Lauer—who oversaw the recent live forum featuring presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—and the rest of the members of the mass media who are failing to ask tough questions during this election cycle.

    • Colin Powell Urged Hillary Clinton’s Team Not to Scapegoat Him for Her Private Server, Leaked Emails Reveal

      Former Secretary of State Colin Powell attempted to discourage Hillary Clinton and her team from using him as a scapegoat for her private email server problems, according to newly leaked emails from Powell’s Gmail account.

      “Sad thing,” Powell wrote to one confidant, “HRC could have killed this two years ago by merely telling everyone honestly what she had done and not tie me to it.”

    • Media Undermine Democracy by Speculating Wildly About Undermining Democracy

      This is pure, unadulterated speculation—the kind of “what if, then they might” house of cards one would expect from an episode of Ancient Aliens, not in one of the most influential papers in the English-speaking world. In a moment of outright self-parody, Applebaum notes that “rumors of election fraud can create the same hysteria as real election fraud” while spending 800 words doing nothing but spreading rumors of election fraud. We have met the rumormonger, Ms. Applebaum, and she is you.

      One sure way to undermine confidence in US elections is to speculate wildly about such scenarios. Evidence-based discussions of the potential for electoral fraud are useful–and it’s important to note that there’s always a risk of voting manipulation–but running away with wholly speculative scenarios built on even more speculative scenarios, while pontificating about “media hysteria, hearings, legal challenges, mass rallies, a constitutional crisis,” does nothing to inform the reader, much less address the real dangers of election fraud. It simply serves to frighten the public by cynically appealing to our baser Cold War instincts.

    • FBI Director: Our Electronic Voting System Is Such A Complete Mess, It Would Be Difficult To Hack

      There’s been plenty of talking going around this election cycle about the terrible security problems with our current voting technology — along with some conspiracy-theory level talk of foreign agents looking to “hack” the election. We haven’t been very impressed with officials telling us all to calm down and it’s difficult to see how FBI director James Comey did himself any favors by basically arguing that the voting system is secure… mainly because of what a complete and utter mess it is. The larger point he’s making is somewhat valid, if clunky, in the fact that each state runs their own voting, so it’s not like hackers can get into one central system and wreak havoc. The different systems definitely make it harder.

    • Former Attorney General Speechwriter: James Comey Most Autonomous FBI Director Since J. Edgar Hoover

      Riley Roberts, speechwriter for former attorney general Eric Holder, has a fascinating examination of James Comey’s first four years as the head of the FBI. It details his frequently-antagonistic relationship with, well, nearly everyone, as well as his long history of going head-to-head with high-ranking government officials.

      Roberts says no FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover has acted with such autonomy. The unprecedented public discussion of the agency’s Clinton email investigation is just one such example. While Comey was undoubtedly correct that there was significant public interest in not just the outcome, but the inner workings of the investigation, his decision to hold a press conference and release investigative documents came as a surprise to his closest colleagues.

    • What Do the Presidential Candidates Know about Science?

      Jill Stein (G): It is a major concern that many Americans don’t trust our scientific and regulatory agencies, and extremely unfortunate that there are valid reasons for this declining trust that must be addressed.

      For example, the current FDA commissioner appointed by President Obama was a highly paid consultant for big pharmaceutical corporations, as Senator Sanders pointed out in opposing his nomination. In the case of Vioxx, the FDA approved a profitable pain reliever that caused up to 140,000 cases of heart disease, and even tried to silence its own scientists who discovered this deadly side effect.

    • Presidential Debates: 76 Percent of Americans Want Four-Person Debates: Clinton, Johnson, Trump, Stein, Why Are Establishment Elites Preventing It

      A recent USA Today poll found 76% of voters want debates with four candidates including not just the two most hated candidates in history, the Republican and Democratic nominees and their vice presidential running mates, but Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka of the Greens, and Gary Johnson and Bill Weld of the Libertarians.

      Any candidate on enough ballots to achieve 270 electoral college votes should be in the debates. The people have a right to see all candidates debating the issues who are on their ballots.

      The deceptive debate commission, which is called a debate commission just to hide the truth: it is a corporation of the Democrats and Republicans whose purpose is to limit debates to their two parties, has no legitimacy. It has a major conflict of interest – why should the two establishment parties decide their opponents cannot debate? It is an obvious conflict of interest that the media should be calling out. The media should join the demand of the people – open debate are essential for democracy.

    • The Candidates’ Views on America’s Top 20 Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Issues in 2016

      The candidates for president have responded to America’s Top 20 Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Issues in 2016. These key issues affect voters’ lives as much as the foreign policy, economic policy, and faith and values views that candidates traditionally share with journalists on the campaign trail. Several of America’s leading science and engineering organizations are urging the candidates and the press to give them equal priority in the national dialogue. For three cycles, presidential candidates have chosen to share their views here, as the Democratic and Republican candidates did in 2008 and 2012. In 2016, we also invited the Green and Libertarian candidates.

    • Fact-checking Donald Trump’s Charity Claims

      Donald Trump says he has donated millions to charity.

      Earlier this year, Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold set out to prove him right.

      But finding evidence to support Trump’s claims turned out to be surprisingly difficult. The Republican presidential nominee provided few details. His campaign offered little help. Even Trump’s son, Eric, who runs his own charitable foundation, couldn’t cite specific donations.

      Fahrenthold reached out to dozens of charities, and took to Twitter, asking his followers for leads. Despite his exhaustive efforts, he hasn’t been able to come close to accounting for the $8.5 million Trump publicly pledged over a 15-year period.

    • Clinton’s penchant for secrecy goes back decades

      She responded this way when challenged about potential conflicts of interest involving her family’s foundation, and again when questioned about her use of private email to conduct government business.

      And now, when asked about her health Sunday, Hillary Clinton has fallen back on the same strategy she has used for decades: silence.

      Her secrecy seems to create as much controversy – if not more – than the initial issue itself, perpetuating a belief held by most voters since the start of the presidential campaign that she is not honest.

      In other words, Clinton’s careful attempts to avoid political trouble only seem to get her into more political trouble.

    • CBS News edits transcript, video clip of Bill Clinton discussing Hillary’s health

      CBS News edited a video clip and transcript to remove former President Bill Clinton’s comment during an interview that Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic presidential nominee, “frequently” fainted in the past.

      Bill Clinton sat down with CBS’s Charlie Rose on Monday to try to clear the air around questions regarding his wife’s health after she collapsed while getting into a van at a 9/11 memorial ceremony on Sunday.

      “Well, if it is, then it’s a mystery to me and all of her doctors,” Bill Clinton said when Rose asked him if Hillary Clinton was simply dehydrated or if the situation was more serious. “Frequently — well, not frequently, rarely, on more than one occasion, over the last many, many years, the same sort of thing’s happened to her when she got severely dehydrated, and she’s worked like a demon, as you know, as secretary of State, as a senator and in the year since.”

      But the “CBS Evening News” version cut Clinton’s use of “frequently” out. And a review by The Hill of the official transcript released by the network shows that Clinton saying “Frequently — well, not frequently,” is omitted as well.

      Chuck Ross of The Daily Caller first discovered the edit of the television version

    • Jill Stein Cites FAIR’s Correction of MSNBC Falsehood
    • Google Supports Hillary

      Everything in America, including our Internet search engine, is corrupt. Progressive Stephen Lendman reports that Google has put its search engine in support of Hillary, a crazed warmonger with medical problems, as president of the US.

      What is extraordinary is that the rest of the world’s governments have accepted US control of the Internet and relies on the United States, the tyrannical government of which despises every country that is not an American puppet state. Why militarily powerful countries such as Russia and China and rich countries such as China allow Washington to control the Internet is the mystery of our time.

      The need is desperate for competing Internet systems and search engines available to all, or the Internet will become another censored provider of Washington propaganda.

    • REVEALED: Google staffers have had at least 427 meetings at the White House over course of Obama presidency – averaging more than one a week

      Newly compiled data reveals Google and its affiliates have attended meetings at the White House more than once a week, on average, since President Barack Obama took office.

      Numbers crunched by the Campaign for Accountability and the Intercept show 169 Google employees have met with 182 government officials in the White House.

      The meetings took place at least 427 times. The data used spans from Obama’s first month in office in 2009 until October 2015, and includes government meetings with representatives of Google-affiliated companies Tomorrow Ventures and Civis Analytics.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Another Day, Another Problem With Facebook’s Random Decisions To Block Content

      Last week one of the big stories of the week was Facebook blocking people from posting an iconic photo from the Vietnam War because it showed a young girl, naked, running from an attack. After lots of press and lots of public outcry, Facebook relented and claimed that it would be adjusting its policies. And yet… another week, another set of stories of problems on Facebook. It’s unclear how widespread this is, but on Monday there were suddenly reports (on Twitter, of course) of Facebook randomly blocking perfectly reasonable links. The first example I saw of this was reports that Facebook was blocking this story from The Intercept about Rep. Barbara Lee’s lone vote against the PATRIOT Act (the only member of the House to vote against it) a few days after September 11th.

    • German Lawyer Details Politics and Double-Standards of Facebook Censorship

      On his website, Hamburg lawyer and blogger Joachim Steinhöfel collects deleted Facebook comments which didn’t pose a threat. He believes that the platform is under political pressure, and that it isn’t neutral in its approach to censorship. Currently, he is preparing a case against Facebook, and may set a precedent.

      “Facebook-Sperre — Wall of Shame” is Steinhöfel’s website, where he documents the site’s methodology for blocking posts. He believes the site’s decisions are motivated by politics rather than its own stated principles.

    • Silje Mari on Instagram Censorship

      My Instagram account is where I can share with my followers and also the rest of the world who I am as a person. I tend to share thoughts and beliefs on individual posts and can be very outspoken if it is something I feel strongly about. Recently however, Instagram has been removing some of my posts due to not following their community guidelines.

      It started with them removing one picture of me which was censored to apply with their community guidelines, to me then retaliating by posting another censored picture. My nipples were not visible in these pictures. Instagram still removed them. They have also removed two older posts which were creative pictures by photographers, not showing any nipple. I will be reposting theses pictures later on.

    • ‘Censorship of the internet is harmful to dialogue’

      Editors Sunetra Sen Narayan and Shalini Narayanan analyse the growth of new media in Digital India from a broad communications and interdisciplinary perspective in their latest book titled, India Connected, published by Sage Publications.

      The book critically examines the growth of new media in India and offers a perspective on the opportunities and challenges it poses to governance, development, businesses as well as in social marketing efforts.

      Narayan has more than 25 years of experience in communications, including in advertising, print journalism, documentary film production and teaching. She is currently associate professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Narayanan, D.Phil, is an independent media consultant and trainer with two and a half decades of experience in the government and non-government sectors.

    • Statement from Gawker Media Editorial Union on Univision’s Deletion of News Stories

      Univision has said that it bought Gawker Media because it believed in the work that our publications do. That work, for well over a decade, was only possible because we knew that our company leadership would defend it if it came under frivolous legal attack.

      Univision’s first act on acquiring the company was to delete six true and accurate news stories from our archive, because those stories had been the targets of frivolous or malicious lawsuits. This decision undermines the foundation of the ability of Gawker Media’s employees to do our work. We have seen firsthand the damage that a targeted lawsuit campaign can do to companies and individual journalists, and the removal of these posts can only encourage such attempts in the future.

      We condemn this action by Univision’s executives in the strongest possible terms. It sets an alarming precedent both for our relationship with our new owners and for the business of journalism as a whole. It is unacceptable for a publisher to delete legitimate and true news stories for business reasons.

    • Cuba’s Telecom Monopoly Banning Text Messages Containing Words Like ‘Democracy’

      The door to modernizing Cuba’s communications networks opened slightly wider recently after the FCC removed the country from the agency’s banned nation list. That allows fixed and wireless companies alike to begin doing business in Cuba as part of an overall attempt to ease tensions between the States and the island nation. And while Cuba has been justly concerned about opening the door to NSA bosom buddies like AT&T and Verizon, it’s still apparently not quite ready to give up some of its own, decidedly ham-fisted attempts to crack down on free speech over telecom networks.

      A recent investigative report by blogger Yoani Sanchez and journalist Reinaldo Escobar found that the nation has been banning certain words sent via text message with the help of state-owned telecom monopoly ETECSA. The report, confirmed in an additional investigation by Reuters, found that roughly 30 different keywords are being banned by Cuba’s government, including “democracy,” “human rights,” and the name of several activists and human rights groups. Words containing such keywords simply aren’t delivered, with no indication given to the sender of the delivery failure.

    • Palestinian women fight elections name ‘censorship’

      With Palestinian municipal elections delayed, authorities will now have time to fix a contentious issue surrounding the names on the candidate lists.

      Some of the literature used for the polls in the West Bank and Gaza that were scheduled for October had replaced the names of female candidates with “sister of…”, “wife of…” or just their initials.

      The issue first rose to prominence at the end of August when female voters and candidates started using a hashtag to voice their dissent and to call for women’s names to be properly represented.

    • How YouTube is Using Censorship to Choose Advertisers Over Content Creators

      YouTube has been trending in the news due to various reports from YouTube creators displaying notifications received from the video-sharing website saying that their videos have been demonetized. In case you’re unfamiliar with how YouTube stars earn money, they have an AdSense account which allows them to earn revenue from ads on their videos. When a video is demonetized, it means the creator is unable to receive income from the AdSense revenue from said video.

      The company, unfortunately, has the right to do this. In fact, they’ve been demonetizing videos since 2012, when they first introduced their new “ad-friendly” guidelines. At the time, and today, the company uses an algorithm to remove videos that do not follow the rules. But, even though the company has previously held guidelines for ad-friendly content, the descriptions of what is considered ad-friendly are vague and seem to censor creators, rather than help them create better content.

    • Lionel Shriver sparks censorship row in Australia after criticising cultural appropriation ‘fad’

      American author Lionel Shriver has sparked an international row about censorship, artistic licence and respect for minorities after she delivered a scathing attack on the concept of “cultural appropriation.”

      Shriver, author of We Need To Talk About Kevin, which was turned into a 2011 film starring Tilda Swinton, was invited to the Brisbane Writers Festival to speak about fiction and identity politics.

      But instead of delivering a mild address, her speech so shocked the organisers that they censored her on the festival website and publicly disavowed her remarks – hastily arranging a conference to rebut her views.

    • Mehta asks film industry to come together on censorship

      Filmmaker Hansal Mehta has often been at loggerheads with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the director has appealed to the film fraternity to come together against censorship.

    • Hansal Mehta asks film industry to come together on censorship
    • Pokemon Go The Latest Tool For Russian Government To Silence Speakers It Doesn’t Like

      On the list of countries I’ve always wanted to visit but would be somewhat scared if I did, Russia is probably near the top. While there are certainly more dangerous parts of the world for any variety of reasons, I’ve found that the thing that gets me in the most trouble is my big mouth — and the Russian government has made a habit of coming down on any kind of speech it doesn’t like with a hand heavier than a Russian bear. This government uses its own laws in perverse ways to accomplish this, notably its laws that make it illegal to offend others on religious grounds, as seen chiefly in its treatment of punk band Pussy Riot.

      This use of religious protectionism has proceeded to the present. The Russian government recently announced that it was locking up a noted atheist blogger for two months. His crime? Playing Pokemon Go in a church.

    • Israeli Official Who Promoted Genocide on Facebook Now Fighting ‘Incitement’ on Social Media
    • Israel: Facebook complying with requests to takedown inciting content, claims Ayelet Shaked
    • Israel and Facebook join hands to decide what is censored
    • Facebook and Israel Government Team Up To Tackle Terrorism On Social Media
    • Facebook to help Israel censor comments
    • Why Is Israel Letting Facebook Off the Hook on Incitement?
    • Israel teams with Facebook to fight terrorism
    • Facebook to let the Israelis help censor your news feed
  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • ‘We Are Criminalizing Transparency to Protect Illegitimate Uses of Power’

      If the expression “I can’t breathe” holds power for you, it’s because of Ramsey Orta. He’s the one who held his cellphone camera steady while New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked the life out of Eric Garner in July of 2014.

      Garner was Orta’s friend. He used to give Orta’s daughter a dollar to spend at the local store every time they walked past. Ramsey Orta’s been sentenced to four years in prison stemming from drug and weapon charges, those that stuck among the many and various police have brought against him since the Garner video came to light.

      Chris Leday uploaded video of Alton Sterling’s killing at the hands of Baton Rouge police. Reporting to work the next day, he was arrested, handcuffed and shackled by civilian and military officers. First he “fit a description,” then it was assault charges that didn’t exist; finally, it was unpaid traffic tickets.

    • How you can help India’s first free public library for the Tibetan exile community

      Earlier this year, I wrote about a wonderful library project that Tibetan friends in India are putting together for a Tibetan exile community there, with the support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Here’s an update from my friend Phuntsok Dorjee, who is one of the organizers.

    • Settler Colonialism on Trial at Standing Rock

      The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s remarkable struggle to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline sparked a movement. Thousands of people – including representatives from more than 180 indigenous nations – traveled to North Dakota in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they defend their rights and protect nature. The companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline responded by using attack dogs and bulldozing their sacred sites in order to forcibly displace them. Mounting pressure from the movement forced the Obama administration to intervene and temporarily stop the construction of the pipeline on indigenous land. However, it would be a mistake to believe that the struggle is over. The U.S. government has a long way to go in regards to respecting its treaties with Native American peoples.

    • Arrest warrant for muckraking U.S. journalist

      New York, September 12, 2016 — Prosecutors in the U.S. state of North Dakota should immediately drop all criminal charges against broadcast journalist Amy Goodman, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Goodman, who hosts the global news program Democracy Now!, faces criminal trespass charges in connection with her reporting on protests against the construction of an oil pipeline opposed by Native American tribes in the region.

      The warrant, issued September 8, followed Goodman’s filming of security guards using dogs and pepper spray to disperse protesters seeking to stop the construction of the pipeline, according to Democracy Now! and National Public Radio. Both protesters and security guards were injured in the September 3 clash, according to the reports.

      The Morton County’s Sherriff’s Department issued a statement saying that protesters entered private land after breaking down a fence, according to the NPR report. Democracy Now! reported on its website that an officer from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation acknowledged in an affidavit that Goodman is seen in the video identifying herself as a journalist and interviewing protesters. If convicted of the misdemeanor charge, Goodman could face a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail.

    • I Was a CIA Whistleblower. Now I’m a Black Inmate. Here’s How I See American Racism

      It is a strenuous, unceasing effort to cope with the ordeal of being incarcerated at a federal prison. I find myself identifying with the title character from Shakespeare’s “Richard II” when he laments his own effort to adjust to confinement by wondering, “I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world.” I do my best to resist the thought that prison is a reflection of our society, but the comparisons are unavoidable. Unlike “Richard II,” my “studying” has not been so much a comparison as an unhappy realization.

      From the moment I crossed the threshold from freedom to incarceration because I was charged with, and a jury convicted me of, leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter, I needed no reminder that I was no longer an individual. Prison, with its “one size fits all” structure, is not set up to recognize a person’s worth; the emphasis is removal and categorization. Inmates are not people; we are our offenses. In this particular prison where I live, there are S-Os (sex offenders), Cho-Mos (child molesters), and gun and drug offenders, among others. Considering the charges and conviction that brought me here, I’m not exactly sure to which category I belong. No matter. There is an overriding category to which I do belong, and it is this prison reality that I sadly “compare unto the world”: I’m not just an inmate, I’m a black inmate.

      Thinking that you know about something and actually experiencing it are completely different. Previously, my window into prison life was informed, in part, by the same depictions in movies, TV shows, and books that the rest of America has seen. And unfortunately, as a child I heard firsthand so many stories about prison life from people I knew that it seemed commonplace. I expected there to be a separation of the races — by some accounts “necessary” racial segregation — because that is what I saw, read, and heard. My expectations and naiveté could not prepare me for actually living in it, however.

      I didn’t have to be taught the rules of prison society, particularly in regard to racial segregation, because they are so ingrained in just about every aspect of prison society that they seem instinctual. Even though there is no official mandate, here, I am my skin color. Whenever, in my stubborn idealism, I refuse to acknowledge being racially categorized and question the submission to it, the other prisoners invariably respond, “Man, this is prison.”

    • Hillary Clinton: Boycotting North Carolina Is Noble and Just; Boycotting Israel Is Bigoted and Hateful

      Could someone explain why it’s noble, enlightened, justifiable, and progressive to boycott an American state, but hateful, bigoted, retrograde, and evil to support a boycott of a foreign country that has been imposing a brutal, discriminatory, and illegal occupation for many decades, a boycott that is led by people with virtually no political rights? How did that happen? Hillary Clinton is far from the only person espousing this bizarre distinction — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as but one example, is punishing companies that support a boycott of Israel while forcing state employees to honor the boycott of North Carolina — but what could possibly justify U.S. politicians drawing the moral and ethical lines about boycotts in this manner?

    • FBI Arrests Two Suspects Involved With Hacking Of CIA Director’s Personal Email Account

      If nothing else, the CWA hackings proved government agencies like the DHS and FBI must not be able to hear themselves talk when they demand more data on Americans, despite not being able to secure the information they already have from 16-year-old hackers who go by the name of “penis” on Twitter. Their efforts also made it clear that most cell phone service providers’ authentication processes have miles to go before they even approach “competent.”

    • New court hearing over ‘imprisoned’ daughter as deadline for return passes

      On August 3, a judge in London ordered Saudi academic Mohammed Al-Jeffery to return his daughter, Amina, to Britain.

      The deadline set by Mr Justice Holman has now passed and she has not yet returned.

      His order was that Mr Al-Jeffery had to “permit and facilitate” his daughter’s return to England or Wales by 4pm on Sunday.

    • Lead Investigator For CIA ‘Torture Report’ Explains Why It Was Necessary To Hijack A Copy Of The ‘Panetta Review’

      The Guardian has published a long report detailing Senate staffer Daniel Jones’ experience with the CIA while acting as the Senate Committee’s chief investigator during the compilation of the “Torture Report.” While much has already been written about the CIA’s actions during this time, the Guardian’s multi-part piece gives the public an insider’s look at the effort the agency went through to disrupt the preparation of the report.

      The process started off on the wrong foot. It was the New York Times, not the agency itself, that initiated the Senate’s examination of the CIA’s counterterrorism efforts.

    • North Dakota’s Governor Declared a State of Emergency to Deal With Peaceful Oil Pipeline Protesters. We Call It a State of Emergency for Civil Rights.

      Something historic is happening in North Dakota. People are protesting an oil pipeline. And the people who are protesting the oil pipeline are mostly Native Americans.

      It’s historic because the 200 or so tribes that are protesting the construction of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline have not united together for more than 150 years. Several thousand indigenous people from across the county have journeyed to a little-known pasture on the prairie just miles from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation — where the oil pipeline is slated to cross the Missouri River — to protect the land the tribes consider sacred and culturally significant as well as the water necessary for life. The protectors, as the protesters call themselves, are defending the land and water using little more than the right to assemble and speak freely, a long-standing protection afforded by the U.S. Constitution.

      Unfortunately, there is another kind of history happening here. It’s a history that is all too familiar to indigenous people; it is the shameful cycle of government-sanctioned disregard for the human and civil rights of Native Americans. In response to the pipeline protests, North Dakota’s government suppressed free speech and militarized its policing by declaring a state of emergency and calling out the National Guard.

    • Call in Congress for Family Court Reform

      On a Saturday evening in late March 2008, a 41-year-old Maryland man named Mark Castillo drowned his three children in the bathtub of a Baltimore hotel room.

      Castillo and his wife of 10 years, Amy, had been embroiled in a grueling custody dispute. Amy Castillo had repeatedly warned the courts that her mentally ill husband was unraveling, and had physically threatened her and their children. As a result, she tried to persuade the judge in the custody case to end Castillo’s unsupervised visits with the children.

      But the judge was not persuaded. He chose instead to rely on the testimony of a court-appointed psychologist, who said Castillo posed no risk to his family. Castillo’s visits with his children remained unchanged. Less than a year later, the children were dead. Castillo turned himself in hours after he killed them, having failed in his attempt to also kill himself. Castillo pleaded guilty in 2009 and is currently serving three life terms without the possibility of parole.

      Anti-domestic violence plan to cite the Castillo case and others like it at a Congressional briefing in Washington on Tuesday in an attempt to gain support for family court reform. The advocates say that children are too often endangered by family courts and the supposed experts those courts rely on. Psychologists used by the courts to help make decisions “in the best interest” of children, the advocates argue, often lack expertise in child abuse and domestic violence.

    • Oklahoma’s Top Court: Companies Can’t Set Own Rules for Injured Workers

      A national campaign to rewrite state laws and allow businesses to decide how to care for their injured workers suffered a significant setback Tuesday when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s version of the law is unconstitutional.

      The 2013 legislation gave Oklahoma employers the ability to “opt out” of the state workers’ compensation system and write their own plans, setting the terms for what injuries were covered, which doctors workers could see, how workers were compensated and how disputes were handled. The statute was backed by the oil and gas industry and retailer Hobby Lobby.

      Buoyed by the success in Oklahoma, proponents took the idea nationwide as a coalition led by Walmart, Lowe’s and several of the largest retail, trucking and health care companies sought to pass similar laws across the country. Bills and draft proposals have been floated in Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Illinois.

    • Tell Justin Trudeau to Fight for Web Developer Saeed Malekpour

      Imagine: you’re a programmer who loves to code. You’re studying at college, but you’re also working as a freelance web developer. In what spare time you have, you polish and release your best work under an open source license, for the world to use. Your father has grown sick and may be dying, and so you take a short break to travel back to the country of your birth to visit him.

      After the long flight, you take a walk along the streets of the capital — perhaps to shake off your jetlag. Two men approach you, and begin aggressively questioning you. You’re confused. Are they police officers? Without warning, they grab you by the arm, handcuff you, and force you into an unmarked sedan. You are thrown into solitary confinement, and held there for months, out of contact with the outside world. You are tortured. You are told that you are a criminal mastermind behind a network of evil websites. If you confess, they say, you will be released. You confess. They show your confession on national television. Your mother has a heart attack when the confessions are shown. You are sentenced to death. Your father dies as you await your execution.

    • More Proof the U.S. National Anthem Has Always Been Tainted with Racism

      The decision of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to sit during the pregame playing of the national anthem has had a larger impact than anyone could have foreseen.

      President Obama has weighed in, endorsing Kaepernick’s “constitutional right to make a statement.” When Kaepernick changed his protest to kneeling instead of sitting, teammate Eric Reid joined him. Brandon Marshall of the Denver Broncos followed suit and lost an endorsement deal. Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs raised a fist during the anthem, a la John Carlos and Tommy Smith at the 1968 Olympics. An unidentified Navy sailor who took a seat in solidarity with Kaepernick may face disciplinary action. The protest has even spread to high school players across the country.

    • Reporter who documented guard dogs charged with trespassing at pipeline protest site

      A reporter from Democracy Now! who documented security personnel with guard dogs working for Dakota Access Pipeline is facing criminal trespassing charges in Morton County.

      Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Amy Goodman of New York for a Class B misdemeanor, according to court documents.

    • North Dakota Wants to Arrest Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman for Engaging in Journalism

      So much for the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

      Despite well-established freedom of the press protections that outline and guarantee the rights of reporters who cover breaking news stories—including confrontations between demonstrators and authorities—North Dakota officials have charged Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman with criminal trespassing after she documented private security personnel’s use of dogs to attack Native American foes of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

      Video footage obtained by Goodman, an internationally respected and frequently honored independent journalist, helped to alert Americans to the tactics being used to stop demonstrations against the pipeline by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their allies. On Friday, the Obama administration halted work on key portions of the $3.8 billion pipeline project—recognizing concerns raised by the tribe and environmental activists.

    • Fired for not shooting, West Virginia cop breaks silence

      A Marine veteran says he was fired from the Weirton, West Virginia Police Department because he did not shoot an armed black man who was looking for “suicide by cop.” Two other officers arrived and killed the man, whose gun was not loaded.

      Stephen Mader, 25, answered a call on May 6 from a distraught woman who said her boyfriend was trying to commit suicide. He tried to de-escalate the situation using his Marine Corps and police academy training, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Weirton is a city of about 20,000 in the West Virginia panhandle, 36 miles west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

    • The Native American, the Palestinian: A Spirited Fight for Justice

      Thousands of Native Americans resurrected the fighting spirit of their forefathers as they stood in unprecedented unity to contest an oil company’s desecration of their sacred land in North Dakota. Considering its burdened historical context, this has been one of the most moving events in recent memory.

      The standoff, involving 5,000-strong Native American protesters, including representatives of 200 tribes and environmental groups, has been largely reduced in news reports as being a matter of technical detail – concerning issues of permits and legal proceedings.

      At best, both the tribes and the oil company are treated as if they are equal parties in a purportedly proportionate tussle.

      “’Dakota’ means ‘friendly’ and yet, it seems, neither side has been too friendly to each other,” wrote Mark Albert in the website of the American broadcasting television network, CBS.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Netflix Urges FCC To Crack Down On Broadband Usage Caps

      We’ve long pointed how how broadband usage caps (especially on fixed-line networks) are arbitrary, punitive and confusing. In addition to being totally unnecessary, broadband caps open the door to anti-competitive behavior (like zero rating a company’s own content but not a competitor’s). The idea that caps are necessary to manage the network has long been debunked, and even the ISPs themselves have admitted that caps have nothing to do with congestion. Broadband caps are little more than glorified price hikes on captive markets, useful to protect legacy TV revenues from streaming video.

    • Netflix wants annoying data caps to be illegal

      Netflix wants you to be able to stream plenty of TV shows whether you’re at home or on a mobile connection, so it’s pushing for the US government to make some data caps illegal.

      In a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission last week, Netflix said that the commission should consider banning data caps on wired internet connections and banning “low” data caps on mobile connections.

      “Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage based pricing discourage a consumer’s consumption of broadband and may impede the ability of some households to watch internet television in a manner and amount that they would like,” Netflix writes.

    • Engineers propose a technology to break the net neutrality deadlock

      Stanford engineers have invented a technology that would allow an internet user to tell network providers and online publishers when and if they want content or services to be given preferential delivery, an advance that could transform the network neutrality debate.

      Net neutrality, as it’s often called, is the proposition that internet providers should allow equal access to all content rather than give certain applications favored status or block others.

      On home networks, favored status is known as fast track delivery. On mobile devices the terminology is zero-rating, because favored traffic does not count against data usage caps.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Kenya In Drive To Get Artisans, Designers To Embrace IP

      While it is common knowledge that Kiondo is a Kenyan product produced not just by artists by ordinary women as well, it is widely believed in Kenya that the product was patented in Tokyo, Japan by some entrepreneur, something that is both shrouded in myth and controversy.

      “I do not care if the basket was patented in Japan or not, all I know is that making covers for the basket gives me an income. In fact, I do not understand all this talk about patents or what they are all about,” Musyoka, told Intellectual Property Watch, his homemade needle in hand as he joins pieces of leather together to make the baskets.

      Musyoka, like the tens of artisans and creators working at the popular market frequented by foreign tourists, displays little knowledge of intricacies surrounding patents.

    • Group Of Nations Demand UN Investigative Report On WIPO Director [Ed: background here]

      About a dozen members of the World Intellectual Property Organization yesterday demanded to be provided with a report conducted by the United Nations Office of Investigation and Oversight Services (OIOS) on allegations against the WIPO director general.

      “The report was requested by Member States and should be available to Member States,” they said in a statement, available here, to the WIPO Coordination Committee. “We reiterate our request that the CoCo [Coordination Committee] Chair immediately formally request that OIOS produce a full version of the OIOS report, redacted only to protect witness confidentiality, and to provide this to member states no later than September 26, one week before the General Assemblies. It is imperative for organizational transparency and Member State oversight. Any further delays in releasing the report are unacceptable.”

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Shouldn’t Hold Technology Back

        The FCC is about to make a decision about whether third-party companies can market their own alternatives to the set-top boxes provided by cable companies. Under the proposed rules, instead of using the box from Comcast, you could buy your own from a variety of different manufacturers. It could even have features that Comcast wouldn’t dream of, like letting you sync your favorite shows onto your mobile phone or search across multiple free TV, pay TV, and amateur video sites.

        We’ve been closely following the “Unlock the Box” proposal since it was first introduced in February, but its history goes back much further. Congress first authorized the FCC to enact rules bringing competition to the set-top box market 20 years ago, as a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. We’re so close to finally unlocking the box, but pay TV providers and big content companies have been throwing out every distracting argument they can to stop it.

      • Advertiser Tells Court It’s Not Liable for Pirate Sites

        Advertising network JuicyAds has told a California federal court that it’s not responsible for pirate sites that use its service to generate revenue. The case is the first where an ad-company stands accused of aiding pirate sites, which has been a major complaint from entertainment industry insiders in recent years.

      • More on the European Supreme Court’s hyperlink ruling and why reactions are all over the map

        Reactions have been all over the map about the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the legality of hyperlinks to infringing material. Some outlets despair that links can be illegal, others rejoice that links to infringements can be legal. The legal landscape is complex and there are many underlying issues – not the least being what the law says today, versus what the law should be saying.

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation screamed out in despair that “this terrible ruling is hard to fathom” in a post titled that the ECJ “ushes in a dark era for hyperlinks”. In contrast, TorrentFreak proclaimed that the ruling means “linking is (usually) not infringement” (updated since original publication). There are other opinions and analysis pieces on the ruling all over the scale.

        Why is this? A large amount of the confusion can be summed up in the conflation of two completely different issues: the first and obvious issue is whether the ruling is reasonable as the law stands today, but there’s also the issue of what the law says today versus what the law should be saying according to common sense of the net generation. While opinions vary on the morality of the copyright monopoly among the net generation, most seem to agree that you should be able to talk about a resource on the net, the same way you’re able to describe an address in a city without that description being illegal in itself (so-called “Analog-Equivalent Rights”). But this is not what the law looks like today.

      • No new copyright for news sites, say young MEPs ahead of EU State of the Union

        MEPs Julia Reda (Greens/EFA, Germany), Marietje Schaake (ALDE, Netherlands), Brando Benifei (S&D, Italy) and Dan Dalton (ECR, United Kingdom) joined forces today to reject the European Commission’s proposal for a new extra copyright for European news websites. Commission President Juncker is expected to announce the plan in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.

      • Wikimedia, EDRI, and others call for EU Copyright Package to uphold DSM fundamental principles

        Wikimedia, EDRI, Application Developers Alliance, along with other associations advocating for digital rights and NGOs representing digital creators and platforms, addressed a letter [available here] to, among others, EU Commission’s President Junker, Vice-President Ansip, and Commissioner Oettinger, urging the Copyright Package expected to be released on 15 September to uphold

        “the fundamental principles of the Digital Single Market such as rights of citizens to freedom of information, access to knowledge and the limitation of intermediaries’ liability, which lie at the very foundations of the internet”.

        In the letter published on 9 September, the signatories request the EU Commission:

        - Not to create a new ancillary right for publishers. After the tragic experiments in Spain and Germany, the signatories stress, that – you guys should have understood that distorting copyright to tax snippets produce “no positive outcomes but has harmed consumers, innovation and the internet at large” — i.e., not only Google, but many other small companies and startup aggregating and indexing news on the internet and struggling to fill the gap between old media and digital revolution. In the same regard, the signatories also urge the Commission to publish the response to the public consultation on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain and on the ‘panorama exception’. The signatories say that “many have pointed out that new ancillary rights for publishers were harmful”.

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