Links 1/6/2016: Wine-Staging 1.9.11, Unreal Engine 4.12

Posted in News Roundup at 6:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Now, draw sketches to search for images, videos!

    Researchers at the University of Basel in Switzerland have developed a system known as vitrivr, which allows a search for images and videos by means of a sketch.

  • Vitrivr is an open source engine that lets you search for videos with a sketch

    The vitrivr system is open source and freely available on GitHub.

  • This open source software dominates the web, but what is Apache?

    The importance of the web shouldn’t be underestimated, it has helped to open up the world, democratise information and is one of the greatest ever inventions.

    While it has had a profound influence on the world, the web is made up of numerous different elements, such as web server software.

    Apache, an open source software that is available for free, is the most widely used web server software and is developed and maintained by the Apache Software Foundation.

  • ownCloud Gets Its’ Own Foundation

    Contrary to the common trend of bringing an open-source project like ownCloud into an established model, like the Linux Foundation’s Collaborative Project approach, where the Cloud Foundry Foundation, the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, node js foundation, OpenDayLight and so many other now live, ownCloud is building its own Foundation.

  • Hyperledger Work on Its Open-Source Footing

    Taking a bootstrapped initiative to a healthy open-source project is difficult. But when there’s only approximately 100 developers in the world that have a deep understanding of the technology, such as blockchain, the difficulty increases dramatically.

  • Events

    • LibrePlanet forever! Watch sessions from 2016 online

      That’s right, you can now watch the keynote conversation with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and 32 more sessions from LibrePlanet 2016: Fork the System on the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF) GNU MediaGoblin instance, including:

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Open Source Speech Recognition

        I’m currently working on the Vaani project at Mozilla, and part of my work on that allows me to do some exploration around the topic of speech recognition and speech assistants. After looking at some of the commercial offerings available, I thought that if we were going to do some kind of add-on API, we’d be best off aping the Amazon Alexa skills JS API. Amazon Echo appears to be doing quite well and people have written a number of skills with their API. There isn’t really any alternative right now, but I actually happen to think their API is quite well thought out and concise, and maps well to the sort of data structures you need to do reliable speech recognition.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Why open source will be critical to the future of SDDC

      OpenStack, the leading solution for Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), is currently being used by various organizations for their own on-premises private cloud, for hybrid cloud deployments, or for offering public cloud services to their clients. Through Nova, the compute module of OpenStack, various other components can be controlled, such as networking, block and object storage, disk imaging, identity management, key management, DNS, and search, among others. The entire deployment can be managed using the Horizon dashboard software.

      While OpenStack, itself, does not attempt to emulate the API design of popular public cloud providers, compatibility layers are being developed that provide compatibility with Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, and Google Compute Engine.

    • The Rise of Deep Learning in the Tech Industry

      Tech analysts love trending topics. In fact, that’s their job: forecast and analyze trends. Some years ago we had “Big Data”, more recently “Machine Learning”, and now it s the time of “Deep Learning”. So let’s dive in and try to understand what‘s behind it and what impact it can have on our society.

  • Databases

    • The Limitations of NoSQL Database Storage: Why NoSQL’s Not Perfect

      NoSQL databases have emerged as a leading new data storage technology. But they’re not perfect. Here’s a look at the limitations and drawbacks of NoSQL storage.

      To be sure, NoSQL offers a lot of advantages over traditional data storage techniques. But NoSQL is not a uniformly better storage solution.

      SQL-style storage systems, like MySQL, come out ahead in some contexts. In others, there’s not yet any ideal storage platform.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • How to get started with LibreOffice

      If you use your Mac or PC for word processing, creating and editing spreadsheets or putting the finishing touches on a slideshow presentation, you need a suite of office applications that come with all the tools you need to create some impressive documents, and LibreOffice is one of the best options.

      The Microsoft Office suite is near ubiquitous, but even though Mac version of Office 2016 released last year, it’s still relatively expensive.

      While iWork has become free, it lacks some of the features that come with other office suites. LibreOffice, however, is not only completely free, but it’s constantly updated with improvements and new features, and contains a host of tools that you’d expect in an expensive software collection.

  • CMS

    • How to Select the Best Open Source CMS

      In this article, I’m going to get into minute detail with you on all of the major aspects of open source CMS and the things you should consider to make an informed decision. This is my “how to select the best open source CMS” guide.

      When it comes to selecting a CMS, there’s no doubt that the process of doing so is overwhelming (hey, it’s why this site exists!) but it doesn’t have to be.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Gnuisance 4.0, Plasma Features, Augmented Reality

      gNewSense 4.0 was released at the beginning of May and today blogger DarkDuck said it’s still a gnuisance due to the lack of drivers. Elsewhere, LinuxConfig.org looked at the features of KDE Plasma and Linux Laptop leader System 76 CEO Carl Richell used Linux to augment reality. The Linux Setup interviewed Korora contributor Jim Dean and Matt Hartley sent another love-letter to Ubuntu.

    • gNewSense: past 5 years, same nuisance

      The documentation says the distribution name gNewSense came from Gnuisance, the RMS’s GPG key. Is it true? Or the whole system is just a g-nuisance? Let’s check.

  • Public Services/Government

    • North American Cities Slow to Adopt Open Source Software

      The move to open source is inevitable as open source communities of developers continue to work on 1000′s of applications & as more software development companies invest in open source models to allow for greater flexibility & lower end user prices than existing proprietary competitors. Europe has more than a decade head start on North American cities. The quality of available open source software has improved so much in that decade that the transition can be far easier for cities starting now.

    • Cities And FLOSS

      Obviously there are huge savings in licensing fees to be had by cities migrating to FLOSS solutions from the desktop OS to the servers. On the other hand there is time/money/effort required to make changes happen but these are mostly one-time costs. Cities in Europe have been adopting GNU/Linux and FLOSS steadily for more than a decade. It’s about time North American cities did the same.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • Announcing the Open Source License API

      Over the last 19 years, the Open Source
      Initiative (OSI) has been the steward of the Open Source Definition (or
      OSD), establishing a common language when discussing what it means to be an
      Open Source license [1], and a list of licenses which are known to be
      compatible with the OSD.

    • New API helps open-source developers ‘become license-aware’

      The Open Source Initiative (OSI), the steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD), announced today it has created a machine readable publication of OSI approved licenses.

      According to the organization, the API will allow third parties to “become license-aware”, giving businesses everywhere the means to determine if a license is open source or not.

      The Open Source Initiative considers this the next “logical step” and quite important, knowing all the copyright and license legal battles going on nowadays, and how expensive they can be.

      Open Source Lead at GitHub, Brandon Keepers offered, “A canonical, machine-readable source of license metadata is a great step towards enabling developers to build tools around open source licensing and compliance. We can’t wait to see what the community does with it”.

    • Oracle’s Lead Lawyer Against Google Vents That The Ruling ‘Killed’ The GPL

      Except, of course, tons of copyright experts predicted exactly this result (and many more argued that APIs should not be subject to copyright at all). Famed copyright scholar Pam Samuelson has been writing extensively about the case, focusing both on why APIs should not be covered by copyright (and, why basically every other court has agreed) as well as why, even if it is covered, it’s fair use. Hell, she even wrote a response to the Hurst piece, explaining why Hurst was wrong. It’s weird for Hurst to take a position that actually seems at odds with a huge number of copyright experts, and then state that none would take the position that many did.


      Once again, this shows a rather unfortunate ignorance of how coding works. It’s not about a desire to “copy freely.” It’s about building amazing and innovative services, and making use of APIs to increase interoperability, which increases value. Copying an API structure is also just much more about making developers comfortable in using new environments. You know, like how Oracle copied SQL from IBM. Because lots of people understood SELECT-FROM-WHERE and it made little sense to create a relational database that didn’t use that structure. It’s not about copying freely. It’s about interoperability.

      And, really, the idea that an Oracle lawyer is “concerned” about the future of the GPL is fairly laughable. Thankfully, many people have weighed in in the comments — including plenty who are quite familiar with the GPL and software development to explain to Hurst why she’s wrong. Somehow, I think she has some fairly strong reasons to ignore those responses.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Munich Open Government Day, 27 October 2016

      On 27 October, the German City of Munich is organising the fourth edition of its annual Open Government Day. This year’s theme is ‘openness, participation and digitisation — impulses for a modern community’. The day provides an opportunity for discussion and exchange of experiences with Open Government.

    • Open Access/Content

      • New open source science journal launched by Consumer Wellness Center: the Natural Science Journal

        A new science journal that focuses on food and environmental science has just been launched by the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center. Called the “Natural Science Journal,” the new peer-reviewed journal focuses on independent science pursued by laboratories and scientists who have no financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness giants or government funding sources.

      • Open access should be the norm for EU by 2020, say research ministers

        EU research ministers have published a commitment to make “open access to scientific publications as the option by default by 2020.” The decision was taken during a meeting of the Competitiveness Council, which is made up of ministers from the EU’s member states. In addition, ministers agreed “to the best possible reuse of research data as a way to accelerate the transition towards an open science system.”

        The formal “conclusions” of the meeting define open access to publications as “free availability on the public Internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers.” This is taken from the key Budapest Open Access Initiative that helped to define open access back in 2002—an indication of how slow progress has been so far.

      • Harvard and MIT teamed up for this open-source online education platform

        It’s often said that the internet makes it possible for anyone to get educated on any subject. But just as in offline modes of education, the many models of online teaching and learning are far from perfect, with plenty of room for improvement and innovation.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • The story of Ultimaker: 3D printers with open source DNA

        For those who have been immersed in a capitalist society, open source thinking can seem counterintuitive. For the last three decades wealth has been determined through ownership and property rights. Businesses have been valued and financed based on the patents they own and the applications of their intellectual property. But open source, a term originating from software code being open for other developers to use, has started to change the prevailing capitalist mentality. Innovation is essential to their survival, and companies are seeing open source thinking, like sharing and collaborating, as a methods towards that goal.

  • Programming/Development

    • PHP 5.3 Through PHP 7.1-dev Tests Along With HHVM On Ubuntu 16.04

      With preparing for the upcoming release of Phoronix Test Suite 6.4-Hasvik I’ve been running through my validation tests on all supported versions of PHP going back to PHP 5.3 as well as HHVM. As part of that testing, I’ve been running my self-hosted tests of the major PHP release series once again up through PHP 7.1-dev. Here are those results if you are curious about some fresh PHP CLI benchmarks.

      The results in this article are of PHP 5.3 through PHP 7.0.7 and PHP 7.1-dev (as of this morning in php-src Git) plus Facebook’s HHVM PHP implementation via the Ubuntu 16.04 package repository. I also tested PHP 7.0.4 as currently packaged in Ubuntu 16.04 compared to my freshly built 5.3.29 / 5.4.45 / 5.5.36 / 5.6.22 / 7.0.7 / 7.1.0-dev that are basically stock builds with ensuring ZIP / XML / JSON / PCNTL support is enabled. (Basically, part of what I do for each quarterly Phoronix Test Suite release to ensure compatibility and a good out-of-the-box experience going back still to PHP 5.3.)

    • HPE targets DevOps and agile with new application lifecycle management software

      The platform makes use of common toolsets and frameworks, such as Jenkins, GIT, and Gherkin, while also providing insights to developers and application testers. This could potentially help enterprises deliver those applications more quickly, without having to cut corners in the vetting process.

    • US computer-science classes churn out cut-n-paste slackers – and yes, that’s a bad thing

      Computer science (CS) students in the US aren’t being taught properly, and their classes are too limited in scope, says one IT think-tank.

      The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) says that its most recent study [PDF] of curriculum in the US has found that not enough schools are offering computer science classes, and those that do aren’t going in-depth enough.

      As a result, the ITIF says, many universities are failing to produce the diverse, well-trained graduates that companies seek to hire.

      “There is the possibility that interest in the field could again wane like it did in 2003 following the burst of the tech bubble,” ITIF warns.

      “To maintain the field’s current momentum, the perception of computer science needs to shift from its being considered a fringe, elective offering or a skills-based course designed to teach basic computer literacy or coding alone.”

      The report found that at the high school level, dedicated computer science classes are mostly limited to affluent schools, and when the courses are taught, girls and minority students are rarely enrolled.

    • LLVM Looks At Moving From SVN To Git Via GitHub

      While there have been Git mirrors available of LLVM and its sub-projects (including Clang) for some time, this open-source compiler infrastructure project has relied upon SVN as its cental development repository. The LLVM project is now looking at finally transitioning to Git for development and quite likely utilizing GitHub for hosting.

      GitHub anyone? was spawned today on the LLVM developer mailing list about shifting their development practices from SVN to Git. In particular, utilizing GitHub for hosting and potentially using other GitHub services for managing bug reports, pull requests, etc.

    • “Stop Designing Languages. Write Libraries Instead.”

      I had a friend tell me recently that all programming languages seem very similar to each other. They all have variables, and arrays, a few loop constructs, functions, and some arithmetic constructs. Sure, some languages have fancier features like first-class functions or coroutines, but he doesn’t consider himself an expert programmer anyway and doesn’t use those features.

      What really makes a programming language productive for him, he says, are the libraries it comes with. For example, he got into programming by using the popular Ruby on Rails web framework. There is no way that he could have written a full database-driven web stack by himself, nor is he interested in doing so. But thanks to Ruby on Rails, he doesn’t have to! So he said that he has no particular opinion about the Ruby programming language, but he absolutely loves Rails. The vast majority of programmers are non-experts, like himself, and the largest gains in productivity for non-experts come from having a wide spectrum of easy-to-use libraries. Subtle language features like first-class functions, and object systems, are lost on them because they don’t really use them anyway. Computer scientists should really be spending their time developing new libraries rather than inventing new programming languages.

    • Open Source Is the Secret Sauce of DevOps
    • The Symbiotic Relationship of DevOps and Open Source

      DevOps depends heavily on open source software, and–to a lesser extent–open source projects leverage DevOps as well.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • European Commission Eyes Update Of EU Standards-Setting Policy

      As standardisation increasingly takes place at the global level, Europe needs a speedier, more streamlined way to set the technical specifications that define requirements for products, production processes, services and test methods, the European Commission said today. As part of its single market strategy, the EC announced plans for a joint initiative on standardisation (JIS), guidance to boost the development of European standards, and an annual reporting system among EU institutions on how the standardisation policy is working and contributing to competitiveness, jobs and growth.

    • HSA 1.1 Brings Multi-Vendor Support & More

      The HSA Foundation today announced version 1.1 of the Heterogeneous System Architecture.

      Heterogeneous System Architecture 1.1 most notably brings multi-vendor architecture support for allowing IP blocks from different vendors to “communicate, interoperate and collectively compose an HSA system.”


  • Brexit referendum folly

    The consequences of the Brexit referendum are bad for both Europe and Britain, regardless of the result.

  • Science

    • Organic Farmers Are Not Anti-Science but Genetic Engineers Often Are

      At one of the public brainstorming sessions for the New York Organic Action Plan, an organic farmer made an impassioned plea for support for “independent science” and told us that with 8.5 billion mouths to feed by 2050, we will need genetic engineering to prevent starvation.

      I would like to examine these words carefully to decipher what they mean, how those words are used by this farmer and by others, and suggest how the movement for locally grown organic food in this country should respond.

  • Microsoft

    • Windows 10 Surface Book: Microsoft Keeps ‘Sleep of Death’ bug

      It seems like Microsoft will not be fixing the ‘Sleep of Death’ bug, even though most of the Surface Book users face the problem.

      During the recent quarterly earnings report, Microsoft pointed out that the Surface line is getting popularity in the market. Microsoft also said that it has turned out to be the growth leader in its More Personal Computing line of business.

      At the event, the company said that the device has brought 61 percent growth.

    • How The World Of IT Has Turned

      Now Samsung is telling owners not to install “10” because drivers don’t work. Samsung should suggest Debian GNU/Linux instead.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO-Led Study: Hepatitis C Treatment Unaffordable Globally, Threatens Health Systems

      According to a new study by experts at the World Health Organization, prices of hepatitis C treatments are unaffordable globally and put a major strain on national health systems. Hepatitis C can cause liver cirrhosis and cancer, and with an estimated 80 million people affected in the world, if untreated, the sickness could lead to 700,000 deaths per year worldwide, the study said, suggesting that governments and industry stakeholders should develop and implement fair pricing frameworks.

    • The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns

      The purpose of this piece is to draw readers’ attention to an important chapter from a document by Aruna Rodrigues that discusses the unique risks associated with GM crops. Contrary to what supporters of GM often claim, it shows that criticisms of this technology are based on credible concerns, sound logic and solid science.

      However, some background information and context might first be useful to indicate that, while critics rely on science, the pro-GMO lobby is mired in duplicity and engages in the debasement of science.

    • New and Old Vaccines Still Out of Reach for Many

      While long-awaited new vaccines for malaria and dengue may finally be within reach, many of the world’s existing vaccines have remained unreachable for many of the people who need them most.

      The recent outbreak of yellow fever in Angola shows how deadly infectious diseases can return when gaps in vaccination programs grow.

    • Big Pharma Hobbling Federal Efforts to Rein In Dangerous Opioids

      Even as a new study suggests opioid painkillers may in fact make chronic pain worse, Big Pharma continues to work against efforts to stem the national opioid crisis, according to reporting at The Intercept on Tuesday.

      The study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showed that addictive opioids like morphine appear to paradoxically cause an increase in chronic pain in lab rats.

      Led by Colorado University-Boulder professors Peter Grace and Linda Watkins, the study showed that “just a few days of morphine treatment caused chronic pain that went on for several months by exacerbating the release of pain signals from specific immune cells in the spinal cord,” according to a news release. The results suggest that the recent escalation of opioid prescriptions in humans may be a contributor to chronic pain, as Grace noted.

    • Big Pharma in the Crosshairs: Senator Seeks Fed Investigation of OxyContin Long-Term Pain Relief Claims

      A U.S. senator has called for a federal investigation of Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, in the wake of reports that the money-making pain reliever wears off early in many patients, leaving them exposed to pain and increased risk of addiction.

    • ‘GMO Crops Are Tools of a Chemical Agriculture System’

      Anti-Monsanto rallies in 400 cities in 48 countries around the world failed to draw much US media attention, despite hundreds of thousands of people, from Dhaka to Paris to Cape Town, literally yelling out their opposition to the biotech giant’s products and practices, and the disturbing impact of their increasing control over the food supply.

    • Industry Influence Clouds New GMO Report

      New National Research Council study trumpets the safety of GMOs, but how much confidence can we have in these findings given the many conflicts of interest involved?

    • Nonprofit Hospital Stops Suing So Many Poor Patients: Will Others Follow?

      A story by ProPublica and NPR and a Senate investigation prompt a Missouri nonprofit hospital to change its policies and forgive thousands of patients’ debts. But without similar scrutiny, it’s unclear if other hospitals that sue the poor will change.

  • Security

    • Doing a ‘full scan’ of the Internet right now

      I’m scanning at only 125kpps from 4 source IP addresses, or roughly 30kpps from each source address. This is so that I’ll get below many thresholds for IDSs, which trigger when they see fast scans from a single address. The issue isn’t to avoid detection, but to avoid generating work for people who get unnecessarily paranoid about the noise they see in their IDS logs.

    • A Hacker Is Selling Dangerous Windows Exploit, Making All Versions Of OS Hackable

      A hacker is selling a dangerous zero day vulnerability on a Russian cybercrime website. This exploit is said to be affecting more than 1.5 billion Windows users as it works on all version of Windows. The hacker wishes to sell the complete source code and demo of the exploit to any person who pays him $90,000 in bitcoin.

    • Microsoft warns of self-propagating ransomware

      The new ransomware, which Microsoft has dubbed Ransom:Win32/ZCryptor.A, is distributed through spam emails. It can also infect a machine running Windows through a malware installer or fake installers like a Flash player setup file.

      The ransomware would run at boot and drop a file autorun.inf in removable drives, a zycrypt.lnk in the start-up folder and a copy of itself as {Drive}:\system.exe and %APPDATA%\zcrypt.exe.

      It would then change the file attributes to hide itself from the user in file explorer.

    • Allwinner Leaves Root Exploit in Linux Kernel, Putting ARM Devices at Risk

      Running a Bitcoin node on your ARM single board computer? Fan of cheap Chinese tablets and smartphones? Maybe you contributed to the recent CHIP computer Kickstarter, or host a wallet on one of these devices. Well, if any of these applies to you, and your device is powered by an Allwinner SoC, you should probably wipe it and put an OS on it with the most recent kernel release. Why? Allwinner left a development “tool” on their ARM Linux kernel that allows anyone to root their devices with a single command. This oversight has serious security implications for any Allwinner powered device, especially so for those of us hosting sensitive data on them.

    • 5 steps to reduce cyber vulnerabilities

      The National Vulnerability Database (NVD) — the U.S. government’s repository of standards-based vulnerability management data — says 2015 was another blockbuster year for security vulnerabilities with an average of 17 new vulnerabilities added per day.

      While IT managers can somewhat breathe a collective sigh of relief that the total number of vulnerabilities actually decreased from 7,937 in 2014 to 6,270 in 2015, there’s no time to relax. According to NVD data, 37 percent of vulnerabilities reported in 2015 were classified as highly severe, up from 24 percent in 2014.

    • How to Get an Open Source Security Badge from CII

      Everybody loves getting badges. Fitbit badges, Stack Overflow badges, Boy Scout merit badges, and even LEED certification are just a few examples that come to mind. A recent 538 article “Even psychologists love badges” publicized the value of a badge.

    • 4 Steps To Secure Serverless Applications

      Serverless applications remove a lot of the operational burdens from your team. No more managing operating systems or running low level infrastructure.

      This lets you and your team focus on building…and that’s a wonderful thing.

    • How the Top 5 PC Makers Open Your Laptop to Hackers [iophk: "Windows again"]
    • Google plans to replace smartphone passwords with trust scores [iophk: "if you have to travel unexpectedly, you'll probably get locked out."]

      Goodbye, Password1. Goodbye, 12345. You’ve been hearing about it for years but now it might really be happening: the password is almost dead.

      At Google’s I/O developer conference, Daniel Kaufman, head of Google’s advanced technology projects, announced that the company plans to phase out password access to its Android mobile platform in favour of a trust score by 2017. This would be based on a suite of identifiers: what Wi-Fi network and Bluetooth devices you’re connected to and your location, along with biometrics, including your typing speed, voice and face.

      The phone’s sensors will harvest this data continuously to keep a running tally on how much it trusts that the user is you. A low score will suffice for opening a gaming app. But a banking app will require more trust.

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
  • Defence/Aggression

    • Defeating the Islamic State will take more than gunpowder

      With the beginning of separate offensives against the Islamic State (IS) in Fallujah and Raqqa, many analysts are highlighting that this is the beginning of the end of IS, with Mosul next in sight. However, there is one key issue with this analysis; these offensives do nothing to address the structural failures in both Iraq and Syria that led to IS’ rise. Moreover, there is no valid plan for the governance of the people being ‘liberated’ from IS. Without addressing these issues, history will repeat itself and IS will either return or morph into another radicalised entity looking to represent marginalised Sunnis.

      The offensive in Fallujah happens as the prime minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, is under pressure to show action against IS, due to scores of suicide bombs in Baghdad and his failure to implement reforms. The position of Abadi – and the central government of Iraq in general – optimises the chaos in Iraq, further highlighting the difficulty of implementing a successful post-IS solution.

    • The Only Way to Honor Veterans is to Stop Producing Them

      I also deplore focus on America’s war dead rather than the far, far greater numbers America has killed in our nearly continuous wars of choice. The aggregate death toll in Southeast Asia in the 1970s inflicted by direct, indirect and proxy US aggression and political destabilization in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia was approximately 7,650,000. The US death toll was 58,220, a ratio in our favor of 132/1. In our gratuitously justified “War on Terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Physicians for Social Responsibility estimated 1.3 million Muslims killed while some 6,800 Americans have died, a ratio of 191/1. And that estimate excluded our destruction of Libya and ongoing proxy war on Syria with an American death toll limited to four in Benghazi and probably a few Special Forces “advisers” in Syria. Our victims deserve at least six to ten months of continuous memorial days to one day of ours, and our appropriate national mood should be not grief but remorse.

    • MSF Excoriates US, Russia, UK Over Complicity in Hospital Bombings

      On the heels of a World Health Organization report documenting pervasive—and often deliberate—attacks on medical facilities in conflicts, a humanitarian specialist with Doctors Without Borders is stressing that the world’s major powers are themselves complicit in such attacks.

      Speaking to the Guardian, Michiel Hofman directed his sharp criticism at four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council—France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—which provide arms, intelligence, and logistical support to forces which have conducted these often deadly attacks.

    • Building Trust in Afghanistan

      Glancing upward at one of the six U.S. manufactured aerostat blimps performing constant surveillance over Kabul, I wonder if the expensively high-tech giant’s-eye view encourages a primitive notion that the best way to solve a problem here is to target a “bad guy” and then kill him. If the bad guys appear to be scurrying dots on the ground below, stomp them out.

    • What Happened to Netanyahu?

      Instead of the comfortable and pleasant partner, Netanyahu chose a devious bully who does not even bother to hide his deep contempt for him. Avigdor Lieberman does not hide his hopes to succeed Netanyahu at the first opportunity either. A partner who the entire world views as a dangerous man. Why? There is no explanation. No logical reason. To bring Lieberman into the government is a suicidal act. To hand the Defense Ministry to him is an insane act.

    • Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation

      French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s eagerness to support a military intervention with the purported aim of protecting the civilian population contrasts with the reception offered to the Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, when he visited Paris in December 2007 and signed major military agreements worth some 4.5 billion euros along with cooperation agreements for the development of nuclear energy for peacetime uses. The contracts that Libya seemed no longer willing to pursue focused on 14 Dassault Rafale multirole fighter jets and their armament (the same model that France sold or is trying to sold to Egypt´s General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the self-proclaimed marshal), 35 Eurocopter helicopters, six patrol boats, a hundred armored vehicles, and the overhaul of 17 Mirage F1 fighters sold by Dassault Aviation in the 1970s[2].

    • Turkey marks Constantinople ‘conquest’

      Turkey on Sunday marked the 563rd anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul with huge parties and a fireworks show in the former Byzantine imperial capital once known as Constantinople.

      Around a million people were expected for a giant party in the city to mark its capture in 1453 by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, nicknamed “the Conqueror”.

      The Air Force aerobatics team was to perform a fly past prior to an evening fireworks display with Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım due at the festivities in the Yenikapi district in the European half of the city.

    • 5 Things You See Notifying The Families Of Dead Soldiers

      In many military movies, the arrival of a green-clad soldier at a family home with a folded flag in hand often signifies both the fall of a hero and motivation for the rest of the characters. You don’t stop to think about the guy whose job it is to deliver the worst news possible to family after family. If you’re trying to find a candidate for Worst Fucking Job in the World, that definitely has to be in the top three.

      Those guys are known as Casualty Notification Officers, and we interviewed one who served during the Iraq War, when he unfortunately got plenty of on-the-job experience. He says …

    • Imperial Exceptionalism: a Cause Worthy of Defeat

      Rather than accept the onset of multipolarity demanded by the emergence of Russia and China as major strategic, military and/or economic powers, Washington and its proxies are determined to increase military, economic, and geopolitical pressure on both with the objective of returning them to their ‘rightful place’ in service to US hegemony.

    • Hillary’s Role in Honduran Coup Sunk US Relations With Latin America to a New Low

      When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sat down with the New York Daily News editorial board in April, she was asked what must have been a surprising and unwelcome question. In the years since the 2009 coup in Honduras, there has been remarkably little scrutiny in the major media of how Clinton’s State Department handled it, and she has had to answer few questions about it.

      But Juan González asked why she resisted cutting off aid to the coup regime and instead brokered a deal for new elections. Clinton controversially doubled down on defending the coup, outrageously suggesting that the oligarchs and generals who had forced President Manuel Zelaya out had a legal justification. Worse, she suggested that Honduras emulate Plan Colombia: the U.S.-funded war on drugs and guerrillas that sparked the biggest internal refugee crisis in the world outside of Syria, involved the deliberate killing of thousands of innocent civilians by Colombian armed forces, and fostered death squads now poised to stick around even as the country nears an end to its civil war.

    • The Ongoing Rape of Japan

      When President Obama went to Hiroshima, the American media focused on what he would – or wouldn’t – say about Harry Truman’s horrendous war crime against the Japanese people. Would he apologize? Leaving aside how one apologizes for such a monstrous act – short of committing seppuku – as it turned out he just spoke in harmless generalities about the dangers of nuclear weapons, expressing a commendable albeit vague wish to rid the world of them. What the pundits mostly ignored, however, was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s outrage at the latest murderous sex crime committed by an American soldier stationed on Okinawa; the brutal murder of 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro by a US military contractor.

    • ISIL counter-attack in Fallujah: can Iraqi Forces maintain momentum?
    • Isis faces likely defeat in battles across Iraq and Syria – but what happens next?

      In the second of a four-part series examining Isis, Patrick Cockburn says the terror group may be under threat, but regaining the terrority it captured would not necessarily stabilise the region

    • At Least 4,164 People, Including Americans, Killed in Iraq During May

      During May, at least 4,164 people were killed and 2,396 were wounded in Iraq. These figures should be considered very low estimates. Heavy fighting at the Fallujah and Mosul frontlines prevents independent verification of any reports, but we do know there is heaving fighting going on. In April, 4,609 were killed and 1,772 were injured.

    • Turning Blind Eye to Brazilian Coup, OAS Targets Venezuela’s Maduro

      Secretary General invokes Democratic Charter at the behest of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition at the same time Brazil faces an overt crisis of democracy

    • Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century

      Hillary Clinton’s support for the “Promesa” bill should not be at all surprising. Clinton has time and again trampled on Puerto Rico. The Democratic Party’s Clintonista wing’s preferred scare-tactic revolves around a Donald Trump presidency, but Trump is a symptom of current political indolence, the product of McCarthyism, the Red Scare, and Fox News. Clinton is a vector of transmission of this disease. She is against the release of our political prisoner, Oscar López Rivera. She represents the most reactionary conservative elements of her party and is inexcusably tied to the neoliberal agenda of Wall Street. Is it at all surprising that she would support a bill that seeks to impose a neocolonial Congressional dictatorship on Puerto Rico?

    • Preparing for the Next Memorial Day

      Memorial Day weekend was replete with parades, American flags, and tributes to our war dead, but little reflection on war, particularly the tragic fact that the United States has fallen into the death trap that President Eisenhower warned us about: the military-industrial complex.

      Instead of defending our nation as the Constitution stipulates, since the 9/11 attacks the U.S. military, CIA, and military contractors have been waging aggressive wars or interfering by proxy in other nations’ internal affairs.

    • Senate Looks To Cut Defense Spending By Taking Money Out Of Troops’ Pockets

      The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to save money by cutting back on housing benefits for armed service members, potentially costing individual military members hundreds of dollars a month.

      Currently, armed service members who live off-base in the United States receive a flat-rate stipend called the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), which is calculated based on their family status, rank, and cost of living by zip code. If they find housing for less than the allotted benefit or live with a working spouse or roommate, how they use the extra money is up to them.

    • Don’t Trip on Those Milestones Strewn Across America’s Wars

      Barack Obama called the drone assassination on May 21 of Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, “an important milestone.”

      It might turn out to be. But I doubt it. My advice is every time you hear an American official use the term “milestone,” run the other way.

      For example, back in September 2014 Secretary of State John Kerry claimed the formation of a new Iraqi government then was “a major milestone” for the country. But on the same day that Obama was proclaiming his own milestone, protesters stormed the Green Zone in Baghdad seeking the end of that previous milestone government.

    • Trump Threatens Neocon Policies
    • Pentagon: Special Ops Killing of Pregnant Afghan Women Was “Appropriate” Use of Force

      An internal Defense Department investigation into one of the most notorious night raids conducted by special operations forces in Afghanistan — in which seven civilians were killed, including two pregnant women — determined that all the U.S. soldiers involved had followed the rules of engagement. As a result, the soldiers faced no disciplinary measures, according to hundreds of pages of Defense Department documents obtained by The Intercept through the Freedom of Information Act. In the aftermath of the raid, Adm. William McRaven, at the time the commander of the elite Joint Special Operations Command, took responsibility for the operation. The documents made no unredacted mention of JSOC.

    • How Teenagers Got Police to Back Down and Remove Military-Grade Weaponry From Their High Schools

      Los Angeles high school students and organizers forced police to remove grenade launchers and M-16s from their arsenals.

    • Part 2: In Wake of Coup, Should Brazil’s Olympics Be Moved or Become a Site of Protest?

      We continue our conversation with Dave Zirin, author of the book “Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Fight for Democracy,” and Jules Boykoff, author of “Power Games: A Political History of the Olympics.” In early August, more than 10,000 athletes across the world will convene in Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic City for one of the most widely watched sporting events of the year. This comes as Brazil is battling an economic recession, a massive Zika outbreak and its worst political crisis in over two decades.

    • A US Hand in Brazil’s Coup?

      The ouster of Brazil’s left-of-center president was the latest right-wing victory in Latin America, but was this “quiet coup” driven by local politics or part of a broader U.S. strategy to reclaim dominance over its “backyard,” asks Ted Snider.

    • Inside the Perilous Journey Out of Syria

      Matthew Cassel has reported on the Middle East for over a decade, including a five-year stint covering the Arab world for Al Jazeera. Living and working in Istanbul, he saw the rising tide of refugees making their way to Europe in 2014. But as he noted in an interview with Field Notes, traditional news outlets were slow to recognize the gravity of the crisis. While coverage existed, media attention didn’t intensify “until Alan Kurdi, who was the young poor kid from Kobaní, inside Syria, washed up on the shore in Turkey — if you remember that iconic image from September of 2015,” he said. “But there were people who were dying, people who were struggling to get to Europe before that.”

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Waiting for California and the FBI

      Some Democratic leaders are privately scouting around for someone to replace Hillary Clinton if she stumbles again in California and/or the FBI detects a crime in her email scandal, reports Robert Parry.

    • Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action

      The IG report does not make pretty reading for the avid Clintonite. It dismisses a core claim that using government servers was not standard practice during her tenure, pointing to departmental protocols dating back to 2005.

    • Just How Unprofessional IS the Trump Campaign – When Hillary In Trouble, Trump Hogs Limelight?

      So we get to see some remarkable insights into the two campaigns. (obviously this is again a blog article about the US election, not about digital/mobile/tech). Hillary had her worst days this year, from the middle of last week when the Inspector General of the State Department found she had broken rules about emails and was at fault. For a pro campaign and very seasoned veteran politician, Hillary’s campaign had a disastrous moment (every campaign has some of those) and it was clearly her worst moment of the year so far (don’t fall for any of the Bernie ‘moments’ her victory was never in doubt so they were never that bad for her). And like a pro in a pro campaign, she went immediately onto the talk shows, put out as much of the fires as possible, then went to lay down low, riding out the rest of the news cycle. Her best hope is for other news stories to overtake this bad news email story, and that it won’t grow to be any bigger than it now is.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Cleaning up mercury a must in Grassy Narrows

      The federal and provincial governments cleaning up the Wabigoon River will show a new era has dawned in our relationship with indigenous peoples

    • Passing Ban, Scottish Parliament Declares: ‘No Ifs, No Buts, No Fracking’
    • Federal Agencies Find That Fracking In The Pacific Would Have No ‘Significant’ Environmental Impacts

      A Center for Biological Diversity investigation into chemicals used in California’s offshore fracking operations found that at least 10 of the chemicals routinely used in fracking could be lethal to marine animals. Some of the chemicals have also been shown to break down into nonylphenol, a toxic substance that can lead to intersex fish species and bioaccumulate in animals further up the food chain, like in already-threatened sea otters.

    • Amazon Tribes Resist US Anthropologists’ Attempt to Forcibly Contact the Uncontacted

      Fighting back against the notion, put forth by American academics, that isolated tribes must be forced into contact with the modern world, Amazonian Indians are warning of another potential Indigenous “genocide” if such ideas come to pass.

      U.S. anthropologists Kim Hill, a professor at Arizona State University, and University of Missouri associate professor Robert Walker, have argued that in order to ensure the survival of the most remote tribal people they must be “contacted in a controlled way.”

    • North America Failing Dismally on Ocean Protection, Groups Warn

      North America is falling woefully behind on public promises to protect surrounding oceans from fishing, oil and gas development, and other harmful human activities—and those promises are paltry, found a joint report from Canadian and American conservation groups.

      The cooperative venture from the Marine Conservation Institute (MCI) and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) discovered that while Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. have promised to protect 10 percent of the continental ocean estate—”defined as the territorial sea plus exclusive economic zone, which together extend 200 nmi from each country’s shoreline”—by 2020, currently only .89 percent is protected.

    • EU never used power to scrutinise emissions labs

      The European Commission wants new powers to oversee the way new cars are approved before they are sold, but it has never used a key scrutinising power it has had for more than eight years, the EUobserver has learned.

      Under current rules, the commission can ask a member state to submit assessments of the test facilities that carry out certification tasks including emissions testing.

    • All the World’s a Stage: Thoughts on the Death of Harambe, the Cincinnati Zoo Gorilla

      As I write, the zoo’s Gorilla World page still shows a bio of Harambe, along with the bios of several remaining gorillas. They, captive and unable to safely return to their lands, should not be exhibited, but should instead be offered private refuge. No captive breeding. No public viewing or cognitive research.

    • Dear Internet Experts on Gorillas and Parenting: Save Your Outrage—There’s No ‘Justice for Harambe’
    • A Zoo Story: From Harambe to Human Bondage

      Every so often, our society — which proves daily how little it values animal life — erupts in an uproar about the tragic death of an individual animal. Whether it’s a case of lethal cruelty to a domestic animal, the high-profile shooting of a majestic lion, or more recently, the shooting of a gorilla named Harambe at the Cincinnati Zoo, public outrage typically isolates a human target and flares until a particular hashtag has exhausted itself on Twitter.

    • 2015 Saw Renewable Energy Boom, Led by Developing Nations

      Renewable energy boomed in 2015, a year that saw fossil fuel prices plummet and ended with a historic climate agreement hammered out in Paris.

      In fact, investments in renewables such as wind and solar were more than double the amount spent on new coal and gas-fired power plants in 2015, according to the Renewables Global Status Report (pdf) from REN21, an international non-profit association based at the United Nations Environment Programme in Paris, France.

      An estimated 147 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power capacity was added in 2015—the largest annual increase ever—while renewable heat capacity and biofuels production also increased. Indeed, the world now adds more renewable power capacity annually than it adds (net) capacity from all fossil fuels combined, the report states. Furthermore, employment in the renewable energy sector rose in 2015 to an estimated 8.1 million direct and indirect jobs.

    • Dam backup plan for glacier ice loss

      Summer water shortages caused by the reduction of glacier ice mass could be alleviated by dams being constructed to contain springtime runoff from melting snow.

    • Here’s What Actual Climate Scientists Think Of Trump’s New Energy Plan

      If Donald Trump is elected president, America’s approach to energy and the environment will be drastically different than it is today.

      Trump made that clear last week, when he laid out his full energy policy proposal for the first time in Bismarck, North Dakota. In that speech, Trump said he would roll back president Obama’s climate change regulations, build the Keystone XL pipeline, and “cancel” the landmark Paris climate agreement. In a nutshell, Trump promised to undo almost every major policy developed in the last decade intended to slow human-caused global warming.

      What Trump did not do in his speech, however, was mention the words “climate change.” He did not say whether he believed the phenomenon was occurring, and he didn’t speculate on how his policies would solve or worsen the problem.

    • The Nuts And Bolts Behind How The World Will Deploy A Massive Amount of Clean Energy

      Energy ministers from 23 countries and the European Commission, representing 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 90 percent of worldwide renewable power investments, will convene June 1-2 in San Francisco to encourage a new drive toward clean energy deployment, and further hasten the growing movement away from coal to the increasing use of green power.

    • Job Losses Expected As Maryland Governor Stuns Solar Industry With Clean Energy Veto

      For the past 12 years, Maryland has had a highly successful program requiring utilities to use more renewable energy. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s own Dept. of Environment last fall said the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was creating thousands of jobs and would create billions in economic activity by 2020. In April, the governor signaled his own commitment to clean energy, signing the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act.

    • Climate activists and blacklisted workers face the same struggle against surveillance

      The climate movement and trades union movement need to come together to stop repressive corporate/state spying.

    • An American Fukushima May Be Closer Than You Think

      The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was horrific to watch unfold. It will take decades — and billions of dollars — to clean up, as more problems seem to emerge by the minute.

      Most recently, Tepco announced that it’s still missing a large amount of spent fuel — in part because radiation remains so high that robots and other devices cannot function inside the plant to give workers a better picture of what’s going on.

    • Justice For the Gorilla, And Never Mind the Humans

      We mourn the loss last weekend of Harambe, the 17-year-old Western lowland silverback gorilla killed while either entertaining and/or threatening a four-year-old who somehow slipped away from his mother and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo as onlookers screamed, which likely didn’t help. Zoo officials, determining a tranquilizer gun might further agitate Harambe and endanger the boy, made the controversial and difficult decision to shoot Harambe. Defending the move, Zoo director Thane Maynard declared it “a sad day all the way around,” but insisted, “The right choice was made.”

      Hah, said a furious, sanctimonious, all-knowing and – once it was determined the family was black – racist Internet mob of animal lovers, mom shamers, dad blamers, parenting and/or gorilla experts, and thousands more with axes to grind. Quick as you can say “Get a life,” the outrage had fueled “Prayers for Harambe” and “Justice For Harambe” Facebook pages (130,000 likes) to “raise awareness of Harambe’s murder,” a petition (400,000 names) urging city officials to investigate the child’s “home environment,” another petition (140,000) calling for passage of a new Harambe’s Law to punish anyone harming or killing an animal, a charge by PETA that “Harambe paid with his life for others’ negligence,” a memorial, a protest, a call for a boycott, and a hit piece on the child’s father, who wasn’t even there but it turns out had a criminal history before turning his life around.

    • Did Donald Trump Deny The California Drought Because He’s Lost Touch With Reality?

      Many credible sources have said that Donald Trump has lost touch with reality. Even so, I won’t say it.

      We all have a responsibility to be judicious with words — as Trump himself explained in January, “I was going to say ‘dummy’ Bush; I won’t say it.”

      Yes, it’s true that an actual headline Friday from CBS in Sacramento was, “Donald Trump Tells California ‘There Is No Drought’ As Drought Continues.” And yes, it’s true that scientists report that 86 percent of California is still in a “moderate drought,” 61 percent in a “severe drought,” 43 percent in an “extreme drought,” and over one-fifth of the state (21 percent) is in an “exceptional drought.”

    • Celebrate the Ocean

      Join us as we celebrate and learn about our world ocean during National Ocean Month.

  • Finance

    • Trump Has a $100 Million Conflict of Interest

      This candidacy brought to you by Deutsche Bank.

    • Guess Which Presidential Candidate Top CEOs Prefer? Hint: It’s Not Trump.

      A majority of chief executives of the world’s biggest companies say they would support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for president, according to a new survey that upends the usual Republican leanings of corporate CEOs.

      Fortune magazine in May sent a poll to all of the executives on its 500 list asking them to rank their preference between the two candidates. (No other options were given.)

      Of those who responded, 58 percent said they would choose Clinton, while 42 percent said they favored Trump.

    • The Big Banks Can Be Beaten

      Working families are turning their anger at Wall Street into action.

    • ‘We need to be in the EU in order to beat TTIP’
    • Authoritarian Britain is made freer by the EU

      The idea that the EU undermines English liberty is nonsense: it has helped curtail the British state’s repressive surveillance.

    • It’s not just Brexit — Greece, Spain, France are also on the brink

      Last week, a research wing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) came out with a report admitting that neoliberalism has been a failure. The report, entitled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?” is hopefully a sign of the ideology’s death. They were only about 40 years late. As Naomi Klein tweeted about the report, “So all the billionaires it created are going to give back their money, right?”

    • Our Poverty Myth

      The illusion that people are to blame for their own poverty goes back centuries in our culture.

    • University of Helsinki to introduce tuition fees of €13,000–18,000 for non-EU/EEA students

      The University of Helsinki has announced its decision to impose tuition fees of 13,000–18,000 euros on its postgraduate degree students from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA).

    • Once Homeless Student Who Worked 4 Jobs To Support Family Graduates College

      After persevering through trying times, one college student wore her cap and gown with pride.

      Bianca Jeannot, a 22-year-old who attended the College of New Rochelle in New York, has been through a lot. She has experienced homelessness and also had to work multiple jobs to support and care for her brothers while attending college, ABC News reported.

      Recently, the student saw her hard work come to fruition as she graduated from the school with honors, WABC reported.

    • Cuts blamed as London fire deaths rise by 20 per cent

      Fire deaths across the capital have gone up by 20 per cent in the last year, according to figures released by the London Fire Brigade (LFB).

      A total of 36 people died from fires in London in 2015/16, compared with 30 in the previous year.

    • ‘Employers Have an Incentive to Work People Long Hours’

      It’s no secret that those Americans who are working are working more hours for less pay than in decades–and suffering for it. And while it’s true wealthy people may be finding new clandestine ways to tuck money away, some of the core causes of working people’s problems are more out in the open, in the demonstrable erosion of worker wage protections.

      This, our next guest’s group says, is a fixable problem. And one step in that direction came recently with the Labor Department’s issuance of a new rule raising the salary threshold below which salaried workers are automatically eligible for overtime pay.

      Here to talk about the overtime rule, the pushback against it and where it fits in broader efforts to fight inequality is Ross Eisenbrey. He’s vice president of the Economic Policy Institute. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC. Welcome to CounterSpin, Ross Eisenbrey.

    • A Legal System That Supports Businessmen
    • ‘Days of Revolt’: Chris Hedges, Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter on the Evolution of Radicalism

      In this week’s episode of teleSUR’s “Days of Revolt,” Truthdig contributor Chris Hedges sits down with guests Lynne Stewart and Ralph Poynter, both veterans of the 1960s civil rights movement. Stewart, a former civil rights attorney, and Poynter, a human rights activist and Stewart’s husband, have a long history of community organizing.

      The two met while working at a school in Harlem in the early 1960s—she as a librarian and he as a teacher. Hedges interviews them about their role in the civil rights and anti-war movements, before moving on to ask them whether our society has lost the political consciousness it had in the 60s and 70s.

    • OECD is Latest Economic Bigwig to Question Austerity’s “Loop of Doom”

      Less than a week after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed reservations about neoliberal policies like austerity, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is urging governments to increase spending in order to “make good on promises to current and future generations.”

      Not doing so, OECD chief economist Catherine Mann told Reuters, deprives youths of job opportunities and means the elderly will not get the healthcare and pension benefits they expect. “We are breaking promises to young people and old people,” she said.

      In its twice-yearly Global Economic Outlook, the 24-nation body said the world is stuck in a “low-growth trap” that will only get worse under status quo policies like quantitative easing.

      Indeed, the OECD said “almost all countries have room to reallocate spending and taxation towards items that offer more support to growth” like investments in infrastucture as well as education.

    • After Empowering the 1% and Impoverishing Millions, IMF Admits Neoliberalism a Failure

      Last week a research wing of the International Monetary Fund came out with a report admitting that neoliberalism has been a failure. The report, entitled, “Neoliberalism: Oversold?” is hopefully a sign of the ideology’s death. They were only about 40 years late. As Naomi Klein tweeted about the report, “So all the billionaires it created are going to give back their money, right?”

      Many of the report’s findings which strike to the core of the ideology echo what critics and victims of neoliberalism have been saying for decades.

      “Instead of delivering growth,” the report explains that neoliberal policies of austerity and lowered regulation for capital movement have in fact “increased inequality.” This inequality “might itself undercut growth…” As a result, the report states that “policymakers should be more open to redistribution than they are.”

    • Va. Gov. Terry McAuliffe Took $120K From a Chinese Billionaire—But the Crime Is That It Was Legal

      When news broke that Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was under investigation by the Justice Department and that his campaign had taken $120,000 directly from a Chinese-owned business, it may have seemed liked an open-and-shut case.

      But federal law doesn’t preclude foreign-owned businesses from making political donations, and Virginia law doesn’t limit their size. So amazingly enough, if there was something illegal here, that wasn’t it.

    • Wednesday’s papers: Plan to scrap health centres, police speed camera claims challenged, and what to do with a six-minute longer workday?

      Negotiations over a plan to lengthen the working day by six minutes – as well as cut holiday benefits and freeze pay net year – are wavering at the last hurdle, but there’s still chance of a deal this week, the papers report. Elsewhere, there’s a proposal to replace Finland’s health centres with bigger clinics offering more under one roof, and police claims that speed cameras have made a Helsinki highway safer come under scrutiny.

    • Walmart, Gap, H&M Called Out for Global Worker Exploitation and Abuse

      Some of the world’s biggest retailers, including Walmart, Gap, and H&M, have failed to improve workplace safety three years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh killed more than 1,100 people and turned a spotlight on dangerous labor conditions faced by some of the world’s poorest workers.

      A series of new reports released Tuesday by the Asia Floor Wage Alliance, a coalition of rights groups and trade unions, finds that tens of thousands of laborers in Bangladesh are still making garments in buildings without proper fire exits, while pregnant workers in Indonesia and India face discrimination and wage theft.

    • Why the Verizon Worker’s Victory is A Big Deal

      On Friday, May 27, the six-and-a-half-week Verizon strike came to an end with a tentative contract agreement.

      The Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the unions that represent the Verizon workers, hailed the contract as a victory, citing its creation of 1300 new call center jobs along the East Coast, first-ever contracts for Verizon wireless store employees in Brooklyn and Everett, Massachusetts, and raises of nearly 11 percent over the life of the contract. The workers beat back demands from the company to cut pensions, transfer workers out of state for up to two months, and proposed cuts in disability and accident benefits.

    • France’s Nuit Debout Movement’s White, Middle Class Problem

      When the Nuit Debout youth movement erupted in Paris to protest the most significant reform to the country’s labor code in decades, it made headlines both nationally and globally as it was immediately compared to other upsrisings such as Spain’s Indignados and Occupy Wall Street. However, as the movement occupying Paris’ Republic Square approaches its two-month anniversary on Tuesday, it is still struggling to evolve into a more diverse and inclusive movement, as activists say it must do more to involve France’s marginalized communities, especially from the suburbs, who have been struggling against unemployment, police violence and state racism for decades.

    • Treasury’s New So-Called Transparency about Saudi-Held US Debt

      More likely, the vehicle of exchange and secrecy set up in 1974 were renewed when the US and Saudis signed the similar Technical Cooperation Agreement in 2008, which got extended in 2013 until 2023. Which would suggest Treasury has a reason to show us the old-style debt holdings, but not whatever they have going on now.So in the interest of “transparency” (that is, in the interest of avoiding any panic as the Saudis threaten to dump US debt if we start releasing information the Kingdom’s role in sowing terrorism) Treasury has revealed the old-style arrangement, but not whatever is the core of what we’ve got going on now.

      In other words, what Treasury’s so-called transparency actually tells us is the larger part of Saudi holdings (they threatened to dump $750 billion in US debt) are stashed somewhere even more secret than the original holdings. And they likely rolled out that even-more-secret stash in 2008, long after we knew they were sponsoring terrorism around the world.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Common Sense on the Democratic Presidential Race

      Clinton surrogates and operatives are pounding on Bernie Sanders to get out of the race, claiming they want to unify the party even as they excoriate Sanders and scorn his supporters. Perhaps it is time for a little common sense about the campaign.

    • How the Internet Is Empowering the Grass Roots and Transforming Democracy

      In the next week alone—the last before the June 7 primary in California—Sanders supporters in Los Angeles will host nearly 200 small-scale events in homes, businesses, and public parks from Burbank to Compton.

    • Write-In Voting and Political Protest

      With the increasingly likelihood of a presidential contest between the generally despised Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, millions of angry voters are considering protesting the lineup by either sitting out the election or writing in alternatives. With almost one-third of all eligible voters already failing to participate in elections, a greater abdication of voting responsibility in an election between the lesser of two evils could lead to a tyranny of the minority. On the other hand, by carefully writing in the names of their true choices, voters can exercise the only power available to them. If sufficiently widespread, such a protest could have a lasting effect on the course of the Nation, including the abandonment of the two major political parties and the emergence of new—more relevant—alignments.

    • Thanks for the Memories, Stephen Harper

      As former PM Stephen Harper quits parliament, his legacy is more of a gift to Conservatives than to Canadians.

      There’s no question that Stephen Harper, Canada’s former prime minister, will be leaving a legacy when he quits parliament this summer.

      A political mastermind, he united the country’s fractious right in 2003 when his Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) was born. In 2006, he led it to the first of its three successive electoral victories. Canada was his for nine years – at least until Justin Trudeau’s Liberals trounced his government last October.

      The party is still holding together seven months after he stepped down from the party leadership. Canadians are united as well – in celebrating his departure.

      So Harper’s legacy is more of a gift to Conservatives than to Canadians.

    • DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz Faces Criticism for Bias & Opening Up DNC to Lobbyists

      As the Democratic National Convention approaches, some Democrats are considering pressuring DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has long accused Wasserman Schultz of being biased toward Hillary Clinton. Wasserman Schultz has also quietly repealed ethics rules implemented in 2008 by President Obama preventing federal lobbyists from donating to the DNC. The opposition from Capitol Hill Democrats comes as Wasserman Schultz is also in a tight race against progressive challenger Tim Canova for her own congressional seat in Florida. In an unusual move, Sanders has backed Canova. For more, we’re joined by Lee Fang, investigative reporter for The Intercept.

    • It’s Not Just the Speeches: Hillary Clinton Questioned over Son-in-Law’s Ties to Goldman Sachs

      The California primary is just over one week away, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are in a dead heat. Hillary Clinton has changed this week’s campaign schedule to add more California stops in order to try to reverse Sanders’ growing momentum. Yet multiple issues have continued to dog Clinton’s campaign, including the question of her connection to Goldman Sachs. The Wall Street giant paid Clinton $675,000 in 2013 to give three speeches. And now new questions are being raised about the ties between Goldman Sachs and Hillary’s son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky. Mezvinsky worked at Goldman for eight years and then formed a hedge fund in part with help from Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein. For more, we’re joined by Intercept investigative reporter Lee Fang. His recent piece is headlined “Hillary Clinton Won’t Say How Much Goldman Sachs CEO Invested with Her Son-in-Law.”

    • Hillary Clinton’s Memoir Deletions, in Detail

      As was reported following the assassination of prominent Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres in March, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton erased all references to the 2009 coup in Honduras in the paperback edition of her memoirs, “Hard Choices.” Her three-page account of the coup in the original hardcover edition, where she admitted to having sanctioned it, was one of several lengthy sections cut from the paperback, published in April 2015 shortly after she had launched her presidential campaign.

      A short, inconspicuous statement on the copyright page is the only indication that “a limited number of sections” — amounting to roughly 96 pages — had been cut “to accommodate a shorter length for this edition.” Many of the abridgements consist of narrative and description and are largely trivial, but there are a number of sections that were deleted from the original that also deserve attention.

    • Trump: A Fool and a Fraud

      As Trump showed the world, it is relatively easy to run for president if you are willing to say or do anything to get attention and you believe in nothing except your own self-inflated myth. His reality-television-style campaign overwhelmed a badly fractured Republican Party. But the act is getting harder to pull off because now his words, often chosen for their shock value, have real consequences.

    • Trump University Documents Expose Presumptive Con-Man-in-Chief
    • Trump Self-destructing

      He’s also had a feud with the judge of Art Cohen v. Donald J. Trump, about Trump University fraud. He criticized the judge publicly, accusing him of being “Mexican” etc. Rather than finding Trump in contempt, the judge just decided to release Trump’s “playbooks”, recipes for roping in “students”, actually high-pressure sales tactics. It seems rather than teaching dealing in real estate, TU was applying such tactics to students and not delivering much of value, certainly not hand-picked-by-Trump instructors. The “playbooks” also showed an intense interest in the wealth of students rather than their aptitude for success…

    • Inside the Trump University ‘playbooks’

      And some of the material offers a potential counterweight to claims that Trump University’s aim was just to sell someone on the highest-priced course. For example, the 2007 sales playbook tells staffers, “you are here to meet the needs of your client, not to push product.” And the 2010 version advises that one should “sell for a relationship, not a commission.”

    • Opportunist Trump Meets Fanatical NRA

      By accepting the NRA’s presidential endorsement, Donald Trump bought into the gun lobby’s paranoid view of government and its distorted interpretation of the Second Amendment, writes Lawrence Davidson.

    • 4 Shady Business Practices That Trump University Used To Target Students

      Documents detailing exactly how Trump University convinced students to enroll in its real estate classes were made public on Tuesday after a federal court ordered their release.

      The business, which began operating in 2005 and is now defunct, was actually never an accredited university. Instead, students paid thousands of dollars for advice from professors whom they believed were handpicked by Trump. In reality, the professors were not chosen by Trump, something the real estate mogul has admitted in depositions.

    • WATCH: A retired veteran tells CNN how Trump University scammed him out of $26,000

      We’re going to be hearing a lot more about Trump University in the coming days, especially after a judge whom Trump had bashed for being a “Mexican” recently ordered the release of several internal Trump U. documents that will be out by the end of the week. CNN spent some time talking with some former Trump University students who described how the “university” took $26,000 of his money and gave him almost nothing in return.

    • Another Kind of Warrior—Bernie Sanders—Fires Up the Golden State Faithful

      There was a palpable thrill in the air as some 20,000 supporters stood in lines that stretched for blocks to hear Bernie Sanders speak Monday in Oakland, Calif. Hundreds of supporters were turned away in the name of security at the event, which marked one of Sanders’ campaign stops before the state’s crucial primary election on June 7.

    • [Column] Donald Trump: Joker’s Wild

      Since Trump has never been a politician – and presents himself as an anti-politician — his campaign has been nothing but a series of gestures. To have a platform and well thought-out positions would bring him too much into the realm of real politics. Trump rolls out proposals – building a wall in the southwest and getting Mexico to pay for it, banning all Muslim immigrants, bringing back waterboarding – as a network executive might introduce a new season of TV shows. They’re meant to generate headlines, capture attention, and create a loyal following. They’re not meant to add up to anything larger.

    • Ahead of Election, Native Americans Rise Up Against Repressive Voting Laws

      Refusing to be silenced by restrictive new voting laws, Native Americans across the western U.S. are taking their fight to the courts, arguing that tribal communities have become even further disenfranchised by rules passed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark voting rights ruling.

      An in-depth report published by Reuters on Tuesday highlights revisions to a North Dakota law that “eliminated a provision that had allowed people without proper identification…to vote if they were recognized by a poll worker or if they signed an affidavit swearing to their identity.”

    • Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions

      Looking back at the 1932 U.S. presidential election is instructive. Herbert Hoover, the Republican incumbent, bore the blame for the Great Depression. It had happened on his watch. Armies of the unemployed moved into shantytowns, which they named Hoovervilles. Hoover’s main Democratic opponent, Franklin D. Roosevelt, came from establishment stock. Roosevelt’s main plank was to shrink the government and expand U.S. trade with the world. These were policy positions much favored by the elite. During the election, there was little sign that Roosevelt would expand the U.S. government and use state spending to enhance economic activity. The tone of the campaign was ugly, with Hoover calling Roosevelt (correctly as it turned out) a “chameleon in plaid” and Roosevelt responding that Hoover was a “fat, timid capon” (a capon being a rooster). Hoover felt that Roosevelt was “very badly informed and of comparably little vision”. Roosevelt was elected to three consecutive terms. He died in office.

    • Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model

      Bernie Sanders, in a way, is the perfect opposite of Trump and both embody the exhaustion of the American people.

    • Cenk Uygur Warns Mainstream Media: Don’t Underestimate Impact of Libertarian Candidate

      44 percent of voters want a third-party option come November.

    • Troubles of Anti-Trump/Clinton Write-ins

      Distraught over the likely choice of Trump or Clinton, many Americans are thinking about third parties or write-ins, but the process is harder than one might expect, like much else about the U.S. electoral system, notes William John Cox.


      Under state laws, political parties must “qualify” for their candidates to be listed on the ballots and counted. The two major parties are qualified in every state, but the Libertarian Party candidates will appear on the ballots in only 33 states, the Green Party in 21, and the Constitution Party in 13.

    • Clinton, media still counting superdelegates despite DNC pleas

      On April 28, Luis Miranda, communications director for the Democratic National Committee, did an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper to formally clarify the official position of the Democratic Party on when superdelegates are, and are not, supposed to actually count in public vote tallies.

      What he said shocked the hell out of me and should shock the hell out of you — in part because not a single media outlet or the Hillary Clinton campaign has paid one bit of attention to it before or since. Since election season began, networks, newspapers and pundits have included superdelegates in their tallies, but the DNC emphatically said that was wrong over a month ago.

    • Trump Rejects Hitler Comparison But Has A Few Alternatives

      On MSNBC and in the New York Times, he’s been likened to segregationist George Wallace. Louis CK and Glenn Beck have compared him to Adolf Hitler.

    • Bernie Sanders Fights On: The Rolling Stone Interview

      Even at this late date, with the threat of a Donald Trump presidency looming, Sanders pulls no punches against Hillary Clinton. His stump speech links her to a “rigged economy” – highlighting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in contributions to the Clinton campaign by a member of the Walton family, whose Wal-Mart fortune, Sanders says, is richer than the combined wealth of the “bottom 40 percent” of the American people. Transforming jeers into cheers, Sanders demands of the billionaire clan, “Instead of making large campaign contributions to Secretary Clinton, pay your workers a living wage!”

    • Make Presidential Race About Issues, Not a Spitball Fight

      Donald Trump has now won the delegates needed to give him the Republican presidential nomination. The Bernie Sanders surge continues — he may even win California — but Hillary Clinton apparently has the superdelegate support needed to give her the nomination. We’re headed to a presidential race with two candidates burdened with record levels of disfavor.

    • Vast Majority of Democrats Want Sanders to Stay in Race: Poll

      A new poll released Wednesday found that a majority of registered Democrats want presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders to stay in the race.

      The national survey of 2,001 voters by Morning Consult found that 57 percent of all Democrats polled want Sanders to keep running, while 33 percent want him to drop out. Ten percent have no opinion.

      The findings contradict the pressure from prominent Democratic politicians and centrist pundits on Sanders to drop out of the presidential race—some of whom even argue that he’s already lost—despite the fact that several states (including delegate-rich California) and U.S. territories have yet to hold their primaries. (Polls also show Sanders and Clinton in a dead heat in California, which votes on June 7.)

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Stung By Yelp Reviews, Health Providers Spill Patient Secrets

      Burned by negative reviews, some health providers are casting their patients’ privacy aside and sharing intimate details online as they try to rebut criticism.

      In the course of these arguments — which have spilled out publicly on ratings sites like Yelp — doctors, dentists, chiropractors and massage therapists, among others, have divulged details of patients’ diagnoses, treatments and idiosyncrasies.

      One Washington state dentist turned the tables on a patient who blamed him for the loss of a molar: “Due to your clenching and grinding habit, this is not the first molar tooth you have lost due to a fractured root,” he wrote. “This tooth is no different.”

      In California, a chiropractor pushed back against a mother’s claims that he misdiagnosed her daughter with scoliosis. “You brought your daughter in for the exam in early March 2014,” he wrote. “The exam identified one or more of the signs I mentioned above for scoliosis. I absolutely recommended an x-ray to determine if this condition existed; this x-ray was at no additional cost to you.”

    • Google voice search records and keeps conversations people have around their phones – but the files can be deleted

      Google could have a record of everything you have said around it for years, and you can listen to it yourself.

      The company quietly records many of the conversations that people have around its products.

      The feature works as a way of letting people search with their voice, and storing those recordings presumably lets Google improve its language recognition tools as well as the results that it gives to people.

    • Thailand Government Wants To Undermine Website Encryption, Hold ISPs Responsible For Third-Party Content

      Thailand’s government has never been considered a friend of internet services or users, thanks to its interest in suppressing dissent/ensuring its king remain unoffended. It has often claimed it has no interest in censoring the internet — sometimes in statements delivered while shutting down livestreams of discussions with ISPs on how to better censor the internet.

      Unsurprisingly, it’s not a fan of encryption. The Thai government is currently amending its Computer Crimes Act in hopes of updating its censorship abilities. In addition to codifying ISP compliance with government demands, it’s also looking to destroy anything standing between it and full control of internet activity.

    • MPs’ private emails are routinely accessed by GCHQ

      Computer Weekly investigation reveals the extent of interception of MPs’ and peers’ email communications and data

      GCHQ and the US National Security Agency (NSA) have access to intercepted emails sent and received by all members of the UK Parliament and peers, including with their constituents, a Computer Weekly investigation has established.

    • Guardian of the GPL: Online advertising is becoming “a perfect despotism”

      Time is running out to prevent complete totalitarian dictatorship until the end of human civilisation, Eben Moglen, the guardian of the GPL, told Ars in an interview.

      But let’s rewind a bit. Earlier this month, Moglen and Mishi Choudhary, both of the Software Freedom Law Center, told a packed crowd at the Re:publica conference in Germany about the worrying outlook for Homo sapiens.

      “This is the last generation in which the human race gets a choice,” Moglen said during the duo’s opening keynote for the media and technology conference. “Most of the human race doesn’t know what the choice is, and if we here, who do know, do not help them understand,” he said, “if we don’t give them proof of concept plus running code, the revolution becomes impossible.”

      Moglen is a Columbia law professor and a well-known stalwart of the free software movement. As general counsel to the Free Software Foundation for many years, he helped Richard M. Stallman draft the GPLv3. He received the EFF’s Pioneer Award in 2003, and is the author of The dotCommunist Manifesto, among many other works. Choudhary is the SFLC’s legal director and previously practised as litigator before the High Court and Supreme Court in India.

    • 4th Circuit Appeals Court Rolls Back Its Warrant Requirement For Cell Site Location Info

      The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was one of the few appeals courts to rule on the constitutionality of obtaining cell site location info without a warrant. And it was — was — the only appeals court to find warrantless access violated the Fourth Amendment. The decision was limited to the collection of historical cell site data for extended periods of time (the court appeared to believe anything beyond two weeks was questionable), mainly because there was a good chance the records would contain considerable detail about a person’s movements in private places.

    • Cops can easily get months of location data, appeals court rules

      A full panel of judges at the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals has now overturned last summer’s notable decision by the standard trio of appellate judges, which had found that police needed a warrant to obtain more than 200 days’ worth of cell-site location information (CSLI) for two criminal suspects.

      In the Tuesday en banc decision, the Fourth Circuit relied heavily upon the third-party doctrine, the 1970s-era Supreme Court case holding that there is no privacy interest in data voluntarily given up to a third party like a cell phone provider. That case, known as Smith v. Maryland, is what has provided the legal underpinning for lots of surveillance programs, ranging from local police all the way up to the National Security Agency.

    • Federal Appellate Court Strikes Potential Death Blow to Privacy in New Cell Site Location Information Case
    • Privacy Takes Major Hit as Court Rules No Warrant Needed for Cell Location Data

      In a major setback for privacy advocates, a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday ruled that cellphone location data is not protected by the Fourth Amendment and can be collected without a warrant.

      By a 12-3 vote, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia upheld what is known as a third-party doctrine, which states that consumers who willingly give information to outside parties—like telecommunications companies—have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” for that data, regardless of what it reveals. The case is United States v. Graham, in which two defendants were tracked by police without warrants for several months in 2010 and 2011 as part of an armed robbery investigation.

      The ACLU discovered in 2015 that the collected data revealed information that went beyond the scope of the case—including that the wife of defendant Aaron Graham was pregnant.

    • The FBI Wants to Exempt Massive Biometric Database From the Privacy Act

      A broad coalition of 45 signatories, including civil liberties, racial justice, human rights, and privacy organizations, published a letter Tuesday strongly condemning a proposal by the FBI to exempt its massive biometric database from certain provisions of the Privacy Act. Known as the Next Generation Identification system, or NGI, the FBI database houses the world’s largest collection of fingerprints, DNA profiles, palm prints, face images, and other biometric identifiers. The letter, signed by groups such as La Raza, Color of Change, Amnesty International, National LGBTQ Task Force, as well as the companies Uber and Lyft, criticized the agency’s May 5 proposal on the grounds that the “system uses some of the most advanced surveillance technologies known to humankind, including facial recognition, iris scans, and fingerprint recognition.”

    • FBI Wants to Remove Privacy Protections from its Massive Biometrics Database

      Since 2008, the FBI has been assembling a massive database of biometric information on Americans. This database, called Next Generation Identification (NGI), includes fingerprints, face recognition, iris scans and palm prints—collected not just during arrests, but also from millions of Americans for non-criminal reasons like immigration, background checks, and state licensing requirements. Now the FBI wants to exempt this vast collection of data from basic requirements guaranteed under the federal Privacy Act—and it’s giving you only 21 business days to object.

    • Appeals Court Delivers Devastating Blow to Cellphone-Privacy Advocates

      Courts across the country are grappling with a key question for the information age: When law enforcement asks a company for cellphone records to track location data in an investigation, is that a search under the Fourth Amendment?

      By a 12-3 vote, appellate court judges in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday ruled that it is not — and therefore does not require a warrant.

      The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld what is known as the third-party doctrine: a legal theory suggesting that consumers who knowingly and willingly surrender information to third parties therefore have “no reasonable expectation of privacy” in that information — regardless of how much information there is, or how revealing it is.

      Research clearly shows that cell-site location data collected over time can reveal a tremendous amount of personal information — like where you live, where you work, when you travel, who you meet with, and who you sleep with. And it’s impossible to make a call without giving up your location to the cellphone company.

    • Anonymized Data Really Isn’t Anonymous: Vehicle Data Can Easily Be Used To Identify You

      Companies increasingly hoover up larger and larger oceans of consumer data, promising that security and privacy aren’t much of a worry because data is “anonymized.” But as research has shown time and time again, anonymous data isn’t all that anonymous — since it takes only a modicum of effort to either analyze the data — or cross reference it with other data — to ferret out personal identities. It doesn’t really matter whether we’re talking about NSA surveillance troves or social networking data: anonymous data just isn’t anonymous.

    • William Binney: NSA Surveillance Takes a Page From Nazi Germany

      With the Obama Administration’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear speaks with National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower William Binney about the growing American police state.

      “They [the NSA] don’t care what they do, they feel that they have the right to do anything that they feel necessary, and they will cover up crimes and procedures and violations of regulations that they’ve done to achieve whatever their ends are,” Binney tells Loud & Clear host Brian Becker.

    • Facebook using people’s phones to listen in on what they’re saying, suggests professor

      Facebook could be listening in on people’s conversations all of the time, an expert has claimed.

      The app might be using people’s phones to gather data on what they are talking about, it has been claimed.

      Facebook says that its app does listen to what’s happening around it, but only as a way of seeing what people are listening to or watching and suggesting that they post about it.

      The feature has been available for a couple of years, but recent warnings from Kelli Burns, mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, have drawn attention to it.

    • Advertisers Might Already Be Using Your Phone’s Hardware to Track You

      Your phone is like your best friend. It holds all of your secrets, and there’s a bond of trust—at least, you hope that there is. Advertisers may already be exploiting this trust and turning your phone against you, by using its tiny quirks to track you across the web.

      Because people are becoming savvy to advertisers’ bag of tricks, the usual methods of following folks around online just aren’t paying off like they used to. Now and in the future, advertisers may track you with “fingerprinting”—identifying a particular device by, say, tracking its screen dimensions and plugins, alongside lots of other personalized information which is then communicated and collected through a browser before being sent to advertisers.

      Recent research has pointed to a method of device fingerprinting that uses the miniscule, unique imperfections in each phone’s accelerometer and gyroscope—basically, its hardware—to create a profile of that phone that can be used to track its user’s activities across the web, without her knowledge. Unlike location data, most sites don’t ask for permission to access a phone’s motion sensors.

    • Iran orders foreign messaging apps to store data within its borders

      Iran has ordered foreign messaging apps to store all data on its citizens within the country’s borders, Reuters reports, giving the companies one year to comply. Iran’s Supreme Council of Cyberspace announced the measures on Sunday, saying they are based on the “guidelines and concerns of the supreme leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the local IRNA news agency.

      “Foreign messaging companies active in the country are required to transfer all data and activity linked to Iranian citizens into the country in order to ensure their continued activity,” the council said.

    • Snowden slams Clinton and Trump, but leaves Sanders unscathed
    • Edward Snowden Criticizes Hillary Over Violation of Classified Laws
    • Snowden Slams US for Ignoring Hillary Clinton’s Email Controversy
    • Should Consideration be Given When Sentencing a Criminal if the Crime Led to Positive Changes?
    • NSA leaker Edward Snowden performed a ‘public service’: Editorial
    • President Obama, pardon Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning
    • Why Obama Is Wrong About Snowden
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • New Jersey Officer Leaked Mugshots Of 14-Year-Old Gunned Down By Police

      Shortly after 14-year-old Radazz Hearns was shot seven times in the legs and buttocks by Trenton, New Jersey police, an officer used a juvenile court database to find and leak the teenager’s mugshots.

      Last August, a state trooper and an officer from Mercer County were responding to gunfire near an apartment complex in Trenton when they saw a group of three teenagers, including Hearns, in the area of the reported shots. When they exited their unmarked patrol car and ordered the teenagers to put their hands up, Hearns tried to flee. According to the police, the teenager pointed a gun in their direction, so they gunned him down in self-defense. But one eyewitness claimed Hearns was trying to pull up his pants, and findings by the state attorney general’s office differed from the officers’ account of what happened.

    • The U.S. Senator Who Thinks We Need More Incarceration

      Freshman U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a firebrand darling of the extreme right, thinks the United States has a problem with incarceration—underincarceration, that is. That’s right.

      Cotton criticized congressional efforts to reform the country’s broken prison system, arguing instead that federal and state governments ought to be building more prisons and jailing even more Americans, rather than fewer.

      According to The Sentencing Project, the U.S. leads the world in incarceration, with 2.2 million people in prison or jail, a 500 percent increase over the last 40 years.

    • Hearing Thursday Could Clear Path to Freedom for ‘Guantánamo Diary’ Author

      Mohamedou Slahi has been unlawfully detained for 14 years at Guantánamo Bay and is the author of a best-selling book about the ordeal he suffered there. A hearing Thursday could result in his freedom.

      After years of waiting and litigation, Slahi will finally receive a Periodic Review Board hearing. President Obama ordered PRB hearings for the men at Guantánamo five years ago. The board is made up of senior officials from military and intelligence agencies who are tasked with determining whether a detainee poses a “significant threat” to the United States or can be cleared for release. A PRB does not determine whether the initial detention was justified — that is a task for the federal courts deciding habeas corpus challenges. In Slahi’s habeas case, a federal court judge — still the only neutral person to have reviewed all the evidence — found in 2010 that Slahi’s detention was unlawful and ordered him released. But the Obama administration appealed, and the federal habeas case languishes still.

    • Singaporean Activists Harassed by Police for ‘Breaching’ Election Rules

      It’s a worrying state of affairs when expressing your political opinions on Facebook on a particular day is all it takes for police to gain access to all your data without a warrant or court order.

      Last Friday Singapore’s Elections Department announced that its Assistant Returning Officer had lodged police reports against news website The Independent Singapore and two individuals, Roy Ngerng and Teo Soh Lung, for breaching election rules relating to Cooling-Off Day during the Bukit Batok by-election held earlier this month.

    • Dalai Lama says ‘too many’ refugees in Europe

      The Dalai Lama said in an interview published Thursday that Europe has accepted “too many” refugees, and that they should eventually return to help rebuild their home countries.

      “When we look into the face of every single refugee, especially the children and women, we can feel their suffering,” said the Tibetan spiritual leader, who has himself lived in exile for over half a century.

    • Freedom From Violence: Lessons From Black Prisoner Organizing

      Collective rebellions are episodic. Expanded technologies of control and limited leftist movements on the outside have made such rebellions even rarer in prisons. But the long-standing black critique of the American criminal justice as a system of racial dominance continues, aided and abetted by the existence of resurgent opposition to prisons beginning in the late 1990s and with added ferocity since the economic collapse of 2008. In 1998, two organizations formed with direct connections to the previous generation of prison protest. Bo Brown, who spent seven years in prison for her involvement with the Seattle-based clandestine George Jackson Brigade, and Angela Davis were part of the intergenerational founding collective of Critical Resistance (CR). CR helped popularize a systemic analysis of prisons as part of a wider organization of the political economy — a prison-industrial complex. Alongside feminist antiviolence organizations such as Incite!: Women of Color against Violence, CR has worked to reengage a politics of (prison) abolition that updates 1970s innovations.

    • Man allegedly pooped on Kroger U-Scan machine

      A Cincinnati man was jailed after he allegedly stripped naked in front of an employee at the Kroger store in Hyde Park and defecated on a U-Scan machine.

      Colin Murphy, 23, was charged with public indecency and disorderly conduct for his actions, which took place on Sunday, according to police.

      According to a court affidavit, Murphy smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and staggered walk.

    • Russian cyber-espionage group hits Sanoma

      Yle has obtained new evidence of cyber-attacks on Finnish targets by a cyber-espionage group linked to Russian state intelligence. The group, known as Sofacy or Pawn Storm, has attempted to hack into data communications of Finland’s largest group, Sanoma, as well as of a Finnish member of Bellingcat, an international group investigating the Ukraine conflict.

    • Effort to Expose Russia’s ‘Troll Army’ Draws Vicious Retaliation

      Seeking to shine some light into the dark world of Internet trolls, a journalist with Finland’s national broadcaster asked members of her audience to share their experience of encounters with Russia’s “troll army,” a raucous and often venomous force of online agitators.

      The response was overwhelming, though not in the direction that the journalist, Jessikka Aro, had hoped.

      As she expected, she received some feedback from people who had clashed with aggressively pro-Russian voices online. But she was taken aback, and shaken, by a vicious retaliatory campaign of harassment and insults against her and her work by those same pro-Russian voices.

      “Everything in my life went to hell thanks to the trolls,” said Ms. Aro, a 35-year-old investigative reporter with the social media division of Finland’s state broadcaster, Yle Kioski.

      Abusive online harassment is hardly limited to pro-Russian Internet trolls. Ukraine and other countries at odds with the Kremlin also have legions of aggressive avengers on social media.

    • Smugglers Made $6 Billion From Refugee Crisis in 2015: Interpol

      People smugglers capitalizing on the refugee crisis created by the Syrian conflict gleaned some $6 billion from those attempting to reach the European mainland in 2015, according to a report released by world policing bodies Tuesday.

      Interpol and Europol, the international and European cross-border crime agencies, issued a report on “Migrant Smuggling Networks” that showed that 90 percent of the influx of refugees into the European Union is facilitated by smuggling networks in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

    • EU naval mission is ‘MIGRANT MAGNET’: Damning verdict on Brussels plan ‘helping smugglers’

      THE European Union’s flagship naval mission to crack down on migrant crossings has today been branded a spectacular failure which has HELPED the people smugglers.

    • Muslim in Eastern Uganda Kills Christian Wife for Leaving Islam, Relatives Say

      A Muslim in eastern Uganda strangled his wife to death this month for leaving Islam, relatives and neighbors said.

      Awali Kakaire, 34, early in the morning on May 8 killed Mariam Nakirya for embracing Christianity in Mbaale village, Imanyiro Sub-County, Mayuge District, the area residents told Morning Star News. She was 30.

    • Florida Prosecutors Drop Charges Against PINAC Reporter Jeff Gray – Again

      For the fifth time since 2010, Florida prosecutors were forced to dismiss criminal charges against PINAC reporter Jeff Gray before even going to trial, proving once again what we have known all along.

      That his arrests are always unlawful and unconstitutional; nothing but an attempt to keep him from doing his job.

    • Vietnam vet claims guards at El Paso VA clinic used “excessive force” against him

      Jose Oliva, 71, went to the El Paso Veterans Affairs Clinic for a check up. But what happened that afternoon still has him shaken up three months later.

      Oliva says he was attempting to enter the VA clinic. But his interaction with the guards went horribly wrong leaving him in cuffs and, he says, with injuries.

      “You know, they could have killed me,” Oliva said.

      Oliva, a Vietnam vet, said he’s had shoulder and throat surgery after what happened at the VA clinic on Feb. 16.

    • Former Miss Turkey gets suspended sentence for insulting Erdogan

      Turkey sentenced a former beauty queen to 14 months in prison on Tuesday, deepening concerns that the country is swaying toward an increasingly authoritarian form of rule.

      An Istanbul court found Merve Buyuksarac, 27, guilty of insulting a public official, after she shared a poem on her Instagram account in 2014 that was deemed insulting to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the country’s president.

    • Fresh third party video of Amos Yee being assaulted in Jurong Point emerges

      Youtube user Jhan DABOMB who witnessed the recent assault of Amos Yee in Jurong Point and has released his video footage of the incident. He said that when he saw one youth chasing another in Jurong Point, with a girl in tow, it looked to him like a case of molestation. Only when Amos was dragged out of NTUC Fairprice did the Youtube user realise that it was Amos Yee.

    • Israeli Company Claims Its Software Can Look At Your Face And Determine If You’re A Terrorist Or Murderer

      There is a regular experience I have that I assume is common for anyone that operates within the technology industry: I will often hear non-technical people make claims about a specific kind of technology that are wildly overstated. To clarify, I am technically proficient in the barest sense, mostly meaning that I have enough of an understanding of the underlying process by which things work that I can explain them, but not implement them. To those without even that barest understanding, I can understand how technology can simply seem like magic. That can open the doors for others who know better to try to take advantage of this.

      Enter into the conversation Israeli startup company Faception, which claims its facial recognition software can look at your features and then determine if you’re a terrorist, pedophile, or criminal.

    • Fired for Speaking Out on Guantánamo, Former Prosecutor Settles With Library of Congress

      In a small but significant victory for free speech, Col. Morris Davis, the former chief prosecutor at Guantánamo Bay, announced a $100,000 settlement Tuesday in his lawsuit against the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service.

      Davis was fired from the CRS in 2009 for authoring two opinion pieces (one in the Wall Street Journal, the other in the Washington Post) that criticized President Obama for prosecuting some terror suspects in federal courts and others in military commissions — what Davis called a “dangerous legal double standard.”

      Davis became an assistant director at CRS after retiring from a 25-year career as an Air Force lawyer in 2008.

      The ACLU sent a letter to CRS in 2009 asking for Davis’s reinstatement, noting that his work at CRS had nothing to do with Guantánamo Bay. When CRS refused, the ACLU sued on Davis’s behalf.

    • 9/11 Suspect Calls for U.S. Judge to Step Down, Citing Evidence Destruction

      The U.S. military judge overseeing the trial of the accused mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks should step down and the case should be scrapped because he effectively conspired with prosecutors to destroy evidence, defense lawyers said in a court filing.

      The motion said Judge James Pohl, an Army colonel, and prosecutors had tainted the case against Pakistan-born Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by keeping defense lawyers from learning that the evidence had been destroyed.

    • Judge ‘manipulated’ 9/11 attacks case, court document alleges
    • Gitmo Judge Allowed Destruction of Evidence in 9/11 Case: Report

      The judge in charge of military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay allegedly colluded with prosecutors to hide evidence that supported the defense of suspected 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “irreparably” harming his case, according to a court document obtained by the Guardian on Tuesday.

      The accusation could be the impetus to reform the highly controversial tribunals at the U.S. military prison in Cuba altogether, according to Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham University Law School’s Center on National Security.

      “This may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in underscoring the unviability of the military commissions,” Greenberg told the Guardian.

      According to the recently unsealed defense filing, Army Colonel James Pohl “in concert with the prosecution, manipulated secret proceedings and the use of secret orders.”

    • Europe’s War on Refugees is Repeating the Mistakes of the War on Drugs

      On 19th April 2015, the sinking of a single refugee boat off the coast of Lampedusa led to the drowning of over 700 people. By the end of the month, an estimated 1300 had drowned in the same way, making it the deadliest month on record in the Mediterranean refugee crisis. The tragedy was the direct result of a successful British-led campaign to end the Italian search-and-rescue operation Mare Nostrum, which had prevented such mass drownings before its closure in October 2014. Those events led to a public outcry and pressure to restart search-and-rescue operations; but resisting such pressure, on 23rd April 2015 the European Council instead adopted a British-drafted resolution vowing to “undertake systematic efforts to identify, capture and destroy [refugee] vessels”. The EU was giving notice that its response to the refugee crisis would no longer be based on humanitarian commitments, but on military force. It was, not coincidentally, a proposal originally made by the British fascist Nick Griffin five years earlier.

    • Chile’s Robocops

      Robocop is not only a movie. It’s real life in Chile where grown men, disturbingly silly, dress up in armored uniforms, similar to the movie Robocop (Orion Pictures, 1987) bashing peaceful demonstrations of students wearing blue jeans.

      Yes, they beat up and intimidate kids, which is a glaring example of a world gone mad! Ruled by horrifying neoliberal principles of financial domination, controlled by elitist, kicking the daylights out of teenagers. The whole affaire is simply one more example of the spirit of meanness from which neoliberal principles pit the elite class against all others.

    • Democrats Targeted for Creating, and Now Ignoring, Mass Incarceration Disaster

      A new petition released Tuesday calls on Democratic Party leadership to make ending mass incarceration a core part of the party platform.

      “So far, both [parties] have fallen short,” reads the petition created by non-partisan public policy institute the Brennan Center for Justice. “Even Democratic Party platforms haven’t merely been silent; they have actually called for policies creating more imprisonment.””

    • Why is Obama Ignoring Pleas to Release Political Prisoner Oscar López Rivera?

      Two and a half months ago, asked by award-winning playwright Lin-Manuel Mirandaabout imprisoned Puerto Rican nationalist Oscar López Rivera – whose only crime, according to Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, is “conspiracy to free his people from the shackles of imperial justice” – President Barack Obama told the Hamilton creator that he “had [the case] on his desk.” Miranda, whose parents hail from Puerto Rico, used his invitation to the White House to bring up the issue of López Rivera’s continued incarceration, which is of tremendous importance to Puerto Ricans. Both on the island and in the diaspora, freedom for the 73-year-old political prisoner enjoys overwhelming popular support and has united people across the political spectrum.

    • Samantha Power, Former Human Rights Journalist, to Receive Award From Henry Kissinger

      In her 2002 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,” Samantha Power lambasted former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for his role in genocidal foreign policy. “[T]he [Ford] administration had very little credibility,” she wrote. “Kissinger had bloodied Cambodia and blackened his own reputation with past U.S. policy.”

      Now, in an ironic twist, Power is set to receive The American Academy of Berlin’s Henry A. Kissinger Prize—and it will be presented to her from Kissinger himself. The award is given “annually to a renowned figure in the field of international diplomacy.” Power, a “human rights celebrity,” began her career as a journalist reporting from war-torn regions such as “Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.” She eventually became a member of President Obama’s administration when he made her the United States’ youngest U.N. ambassador.

    • Samantha Power, Obama’s Atrocity Enabler

      A new documentary called “Watchers of the Sky” tells the moving story of Raphael Lemkin, Polish lawyer and resistance fighter who spent his final years seeking to secure legislation against the crime of genocide at the United Nations. Lemkin’s struggle to guarantee a legal order capable of preventing the slaughter of civilians is brought to life through the narration of Samantha Power, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and famed diplomat who earned renown with her 2002 book, “A Problem From Hell,” documenting the international community’s failure to stop genocide in Rwanda.

    • Boston to Protestings Students: You’re Not Worth it.

      The student protest outside of Boston City Hall was winding down. Of the 1,000 students who’d walked out of their schools for the second time this spring, about 100 were left, waiting to get inside in hopes of testifying before a City Council committee against proposed school budget cuts. First, though, the students had to pass through a metal detector, a process as inefficient as an airport TSA line. “This is what democracy looks like,” they chanted, a protest staple that for once felt almost true. “The whole world is watching,” they shouted, amplified by the hulking architecture of City Hall.

    • Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police

      Oscar Salinas, from the Amor for Alex coalition [formed after police fired 59 shots killing Alex Nieto while he was eating a burrito], gave a strong message of solidarity from the Black and Brown alliance that is fighting police impunity.

    • Happy Sunday, Welcome to Rikers

      Anna has made the trip to Rikers hundreds of times in the nearly six years her son has been awaiting trial. Each time, a friend picks her up early in the morning near her apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and drives her out through the city, past the brick houses and manicured lawns of northwestern Queens. They park near the Q100 bus stop and sit silently in the car until the bus pulls up.

    • Blair government’s rendition policy led to rift between UK spy agencies

      British involvement in controversial and clandestine rendition operations provoked an unprecedented row between the UK’s domestic and foreign intelligence services, MI5 and MI6, at the height of the “war on terror”, the Guardian can reveal.

      The head of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, was so incensed when she discovered the role played by MI6 in abductions that led to suspected extremists being tortured, she threw out a number of her sister agency’s staff and banned them from working at MI5’s headquarters, Thames House.

      According to Whitehall sources, she also wrote to the then prime minister, Tony Blair, to complain about the conduct of MI6 officers, saying their actions had threatened Britain’s intelligence gathering and may have compromised the security and safety of MI5 officers and their informants.

    • MI5 Chief ‘Right to Be Disgusted’ over MI6 Involvement in CIA Rendition & Torture
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Factually Challenged Op-ed Insists Google Greed Is Behind FCC’s Desire For More Set Top Box Competition

      So wait, just so we’re clear, your ingenious solution for the cable industry’s aggressive walled garden anti-competitive stranglehold over set top box hardware is — to regulate Google? And for years we’ve pointed out that the idea of “search neutrality” is bullshit. Throughout the net neutrality debate it was the cry of a telecom sector and its various policy tendrils, all pretending to be willfully oblivious to why physical, last mile services without competition (broadband) aren’t regulated exactly the same as Internet services that users can choose not to use.

      And buried under the Op-ed’s conflations and bizarre omissions, that’s just the thing the editorial intentionally misses — quite painfully. Increasing set top box competition means that consumers would have a choice of set top boxes. As such, they could choose one that doesn’t rely on Google technology if this is really such a concern for them. Of course it isn’t — the great Google set top antitrust albatross is a giant red herring being pushed by cable operators via an endless number of similar editorials. All of them carry the same message: don’t open up the stagnant cable set top box market to competition or Google will run away with your daughter and pee on your azaleas.

      Again it’s a bunch of nonsense intended to misdirect the public from a central truth of the set top box debate: the cable industry is absolutely terrified of losing a central pillar in its quest to ensure cable remains a closed, walled garden ecosystem. Opening the set top box market to competition not only kills $21 billion in captive annual revenues, it suddenly opens the door to cheaper, better, more open hardware platforms — built by companies with no qualms about pushing traditional cable customers toward alternative streaming options.

  • DRM

    • Author Sues Publisher For Portraying eBook Licenses As ‘Sales’ To Pay Out Fewer Royalties

      If you’re a consumer, that piece of digital wordsmithery you purchased probably isn’t worth the paper it isn’t printed on. Like most digital media available for “purchase,” ebooks are often “sold” as licenses that allow the publisher to control use of the product indefinitely, whether through DRM or by simply attaching EULAs no one will ever read to every download.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • PDF Poland 2016: Is civic tech a good solution?

      “Civic tech is a great potential solution, but it is a solution that is vulnerable to being monopolised by elites if we don’t try to push the service beyond its traditional user base.”


      Should be accessible to all citizens

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • 10 Years Ago Hollywood Awoke The Pirate Bay ‘Beast’

        Ten years ago today The Pirate Bay was raided by the Swedish police. While the entertainment industries hoped that this would shut the site down once and for all, they inadvertently helped to create one of the most resilient websites on the Internet.

      • MPAA Lobbyist / SOPA Sponsor to Draft Democratic Party Platform

        The Democratic Party has appointed a committee tasked with drafting the party’s platform. The 15-member panel includes MPAA lobbyist Howard L Berman, an attorney and former U.S. Representative who not only co-sponsored SOPA and tried to enshrine P2P network sabotage in law, but has also been funded by Hollywood throughout his career.

      • Re-Mixing Protected By Freedom Of Arts Fundamental Right, German Court Rules

        The German Constitutional Court today ruled in favour of the “freedom to sample” – or freedom to remix – in a case between the singer/songwriter Sabrina Setlur and the band Kraftwerk.

        The latter had filed complaints against the sampling of two seconds of rhythm from its 1977 song “Metall auf Metall” in Setlur’s 1997 “Nur mir”. The Federal High Court and several lower courts ruled in favour of Kraftwerk, pointing to German copyright legislation underlining the difference between re-using snippets from the original recording medium to re-performing them.

      • Police Target 50 Streaming Sites, Detain Five Suspects

        Police in Italy are reporting the execution of a large operation against a network offering live sports, movies and TV shows online without permission. The Guardia di Finanza say they targeted 50 sites running on 41 servers located on three continents. Five suspects were detained in what police estimate to be a 40 million euro business.

Save the Boards of Appeal to Save the EPO From Battistelli’s Neoliberal Vision and Recipe for Disaster

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NASCAR sponsorsSummary: The ENA or Battistelli school of thought poses an unprecedented danger not just to the Office but the entire Organisation and unless people fight back, the whole of Europe will suffer

Edward Bray from Marks & Clerk (software patents pushers) seems to conveniently ignore the fact that software patents are not allowed in Europe. Why are patent lawyers from Marks & Clerk surprised at all that such claims are not patent-eligible? As it turns out, based on Bray’s new writeup, the determination came from the Technical Board of Appeal, whose function is essential for keeping software patents out of the EPO, in the face of strong/intense pressure from boorish neoliberals like Battistelli. To quote Bray: “In T 1370/11, the Technical Board of Appeal of the EPO considered a patent application directed to a method for determining values of objects in a program by performing a calculation based on properties of those objects and using the result of the calculation to determine if a cache required updating. [...] The Board held in paragraph 10 of the decision that “the argument that a computer program or computer-implemented method is inventive because it is faster than an earlier one is on its own insufficient to establish an inventive step. More specifically, the improved speed of a computer program is by itself not a technical contribution to the art.” [...] “This case provides useful guidance for those hoping to patent quicker, more efficient computer programs. It is clear that a reduction in computing time is, by itself, not a technical contribution and cannot be relied on to support inventiveness. Inventors and claim drafters should instead consider what “further” technical effect their invention provides in order to satisfy the EPO examiners that a technical, inventive contribution is provided over the state of the art.”

We sure hope that the Boards of Appeal will all survive. They’re quality controllers. Battistelli is so clueless (and completely non-technical) that he's not aware of sharp quality decline and if he gets his way (demolishing the Boards of Appeal), things will get a lot worse pretty fast. There will be even less oversight and fewer controls, not just over Battistelli himself but also the technical process where increased pressure and nepotism already limit the exhaustiveness of prior art search and provide an incentive to grant, not to reject. Looking at some of the latest comments from The Register, one person makes the FIFA comparison (again): “So, get your mates to set you up in Office, then turn it into a fiefdom. Sounds like standard practice to me (FIFA, EUFA, International Olympic Committee etc.)”

Another person compares Battistelli to Mugabe by saying: “Narcissus? ;-)

“We sure hope that the Boards of Appeal will all survive.”“Pretty scary stuff this. The EPO agents should have complete autonomy, otherwise the President basically becomes a version of Robert Mugabe (without all the evil things Mugabe has done).

“If I had a vote, I’d vote El Presidente out immediately and call for form. Oh, but wait: the EU isn’t a democracy ;-)”

The EPO is not an EU institution though. “I guess you could always write to your local MEP,” one person jokingly added. “You know, the one you voted for in the last European elections, remember? ;)”

Well, they are not effective enough as the EPO is unhinged from the EU. Eponia is quite a crazy place. The best comment was this sarcastic one: “I think Benoit Battistelli is doing an excellent job… of highlighting all the flaws in the current appointment and employment process.

“The only thing left is to test the forced exit procedure, and from what I can read, he’s hard at work to ensure he gets to test that too. I just hope he able to sample the exit-in-disgrace process in full instead of forcing a test of business continuity process that should kick in if he’s run over by a bus due to failing bike brakes.”

“Sarcasm aside, I would like to know of the moron who ever approved an operating model like that. It must have been someone who saw this as a nice cushy retirement job. The only flaw in the plan must have been Battistelli not leaving.”

“Eponia is quite a crazy place.”The problem is, some of these flaws he himself has created by removing oversight and attacking critics, hiring old buddies, and even their family members. We have been writing about this for years. We showed the ‘paper trail’, so to speak.

“The Register article about an AMBA letter to the AC regarding the proposed reforms,” noted one person at IP Kat, giving people a link to it. “If that is true, then our President follows his targets to the minimum letter. He has been told to consult. check. Nobody told him to listen to the arguments and come to an agreement regarding a proposal during these consultations.

“I wonder what DG3 would say if I came to Oral Proceedings in Examination or Opposition and have the decision already on the table. Efficient procedure, yes. But….

“I would be doing what our President is doing. yet I could be charged with professional incompetence and be fired over this.”

Another person then said: “An Appeal Board that is funded from patent renewal fees is clearly not financially independent, hence not independent. The law of unintended consequences should make everyone careful over what they wish for.”

Yes, this is in fact a design flaw, perhaps dating back to the EPC. One person wrote:

As good as half a lifetime ago
Conscientious examiners at the EPO
Were proud to do a job well done
To serve the European public as one
but now are hindered to do so.

Well, there’s a lot of money at stake and mistakes cost a lot to society. To quote this new example from IP Kat, watch the royalty rates. To quote: “This technology was the subject of European Patent No EP 0173 177 53, issued on 22 April 1992 (‘patent EP 177’), as well as two patents issued in the United States on 15 December 1998 and 17 April 2001 (‘patent US 522’ and ‘patent US 140’, respectively). On 12 January 1999, the European Patent Office revoked EP 177.”

So patents do get revoked (admission of errors), but boards won’t have the opportunity to revoke anything under Battistelli. It’s not only expensive but it’s also unclear if any staff will be left inside the boards.

Another IP Kat post (a little older) contains a very long discussion about sanctions imposed on those choosing to leave their EPO job. One person has just said that:

The problem with the proposal, as usual, is that it lacks checks and balances. If someone leaves the Office or is fired and seeks another occupation, even without pay (say being the head of the local Union…), the President can say no. He just has to say it is against the interest of the Office. The person can only complain to the ILO-AT tribunal In Geneva who, in practice, only checks whether formal conditions are met. ILO-AT will then obviously agree with the decision, as all recent jurisprudence shows.

Furthermore, in the new system, the personal member getting a new job must first inform the President and wait two months before accepting a new job. In the present system, there is no such obligation.

There is a new paper about the Paris criteria explaining that the Office will hire massively in the next 3 years, creating redundant examiner posts once the backlog is processed. I understand that hundreds of “redundant” examiners will be fired then. All this is very worrying.

Truthfully, it is worth reading comments prior to this as well. We chose not to focus on this due to lack of time, but it helps highlight just how deep a trap people fall into when they choose to sign an employment contract with the EPO.

Where can such people find employment if just about everywhere that looks for patent expertise is out-of-boundaries for existing (or departing) EPO staff? Battistelli entraps them.

“Battistelli is ruining the EPO pretty fast and if his so-called ‘reforms’ become a reality, the whole Organisation (not just the Office) may become irreparable, making Europe a lot less competitive.”Kingsley Egbuonu of MIP is currently ‘advertising’ the UPC (job ads) even though it’s still just a hypothetical thing. To quote the summary: “Part-time and full-time UPC judges wanted; new features of the UPC case management system and EPO’s software for Unitary Patent released; more member states preparing for ratification; Preparatory Committee discuss remaining aspects of the UPC; our latest UPC scenario on challenging a non-opted out European patent relating to a pharmaceutical product during the transitional period” (putting aside the fact that the UPC can still be called off).

Not too long ago there was a long discussion about why (or why not) board members (from the Boards of Appeal) can/cannot take such jobs. When it comes to the UPC, many comments about it in IP Kat reveal confusion and uncertainty even from insiders (the whole thing is a mess, as even patent attorneys habitually tell me) and to make matters even worse, the UPC helps bring software patents to Europe. Would there be any Boards of Appeal to antagonise this? Probably not. This is why the Boards of Appeal need to be guarded and the UPC antagonised. Battistelli is ruining the EPO pretty fast and if his so-called ‘reforms’ become a reality, the whole Organisation (not just the Office) may become irreparable, making Europe a lot less competitive. It’s all about serving billionaires, in lieu with TTIP, TPP, and what used to be called ACTA. Watch what Microsoft has just done to Xiaomi and recall what Microsoft did to TomTom (medium-sized Dutch company) using software patents.

As Bavarian Parliament Expresses Disdain Over EPO Leadership’s Abuses German Media Listens and Staff Union Releases New Survey

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bavarian media informed politicians, who now feed information back into the German media

Technologia summary

Summary: Staff of the European Patent Office manages to get its collective voice heard in spite of truly wasteful white-washing ‘studies’ and ‘surveys’ that Battistelli and his circle commission to mischaracterise and badly portray the situation

BACK in March we published slides from a staff survey conducted by Technologia with help from SUEPO members. This survey indicated that, based on thousands of respondents, Battistelli is trusted by nobody at all. It was a damning if not unbelievable outcome, as this suggests that not even ‘moles’ (infiltrators) have snuck into the union. Earlier today SUEPO released more of the same, under the banner “Results of the 2016 European Patent Office Staff Survey”.

Here is the full thing with links to all the corresponding PDFs.

The results of the 2016 EPO Staff Survey by Technologia are now available. With a participation rate of 39% this third edition allows to assess reliably the current situation and the development of psychosocial risk among EPO staff under Mr Battistelli’s presidentship. The situation and the trend are worrying.

Most important findings are available in the “Executive Summary” (also available in German, French and Dutch). Other relevant information has been gathered in a summary presentation (also available in German and French).

The raw results to all questions (compared with the results of the 2010 and 2013 editions) are also available in three languages:  English, German and French.

In the mean time, despite the fact that SUEPO says nothing about it and there is no coverage in English, German media writes about yesterday afternoon’s debate about the EPO’s debacles at the Bavarian Parliament (we could use translations of these articles about it [1, 2]). With the data above they should be able to assess the situation; Battistelli now engages in information war with help from dodgy firms and PR giants from the United States. It’s an extraordinary waste of money. SUEPO took note of another bit of coverage from German media, but again, without English translation there’s not much we can publish herein.

FFPE-EPO Going Ad Hominem Against FICSA, Brings Nationality Into It

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Team Battistelli-leaning union, FFPE-EPO, responds to criticism in the worst possible way

“STAY CLASSY,” goes the famous saying. Well, having received this letter from FICSA several weeks ago, Sam van der Bijl sends out an internal response to the few people who can call themselves FFPE-EPO members.

“From the (in)famous EPO pro-management union FFPE,” told us our source, came the following new text (earlier today).

“Another piece of very noble prose,” the source added. Before even reading any of the accompanying remarks I was rather appalled to see nationality brought into it. Our source later added “see at the end that illustrates the essence of what FFPE truly is” (indeed so)…

Reply to those who deny our right to sign an MoU

Submitted by S van der Bijl on Wed, 01/06/2016 – 12:29

In the past month FFPE EPO received to scandalous letters. On of the came from USF and other from FICSA. The content of these two letters to which we will not officially reply is that FFPE EPO is a minority union and should shut up and listen to decisions taken by a bigger union. It is true that an international organisation is not a democracy but however that des not mean that certain democratic principles do not apply. One of the pillars of any democracy is the rights of minorities to express their opinions and beliefs and to defend their interests. This is exactly what FFPE EPO is doing. We are a minority union which has different values, different tactics, different beliefs and even a different composition of members. Our members have interests and ideas and it is the role of the FFPE EPO committee to defend as well as we can these interests and ideas. I don’t see at all why non members should have any say at all in the decisions that FFPE EPO takes. The only people who have the legal right to tell the committee what to do and not to do are the members in a general assembly. Our members vote for our committee and it’s policy. For the members of other unions, the message is therefore mind your own business! As for mr. Diab Tabari from FICSA who signed this shameful letter, I think he did not read very carefully what he signed. How would he, as a worker for UNWRA in Libanon, like it if the majority leader of for example Libanon wrote a letter to the refugees to tell them to shut up because they are a minority?

“Libanon” should be Lebanon, but never mind that, it’s not Sam’s first language.

“Remember that union whose chairman was elected by NINE (9) members,” our source reminds us. We covered this whole affair before, e.g. in:

  1. In the EPO’s Official Photo Op, “Only One of the Faces is Actually FFPE-EPO”
  2. Further Evidence Suggests and Shows Stronger Evidence That Team Battistelli Uses FFPE-EPO as ‘Yellow Union’ Against SUEPO
  3. “FFPE-EPO Was Set up About 9 Years Ago With Management Encouragement”
  4. Fallout of the FFPE EPO MoU With Battistelli’s Circle
  5. The EPO’s Media Strategy at Work: Union Feuds and Group Fracturing
  6. Caricature of the Day: Recognising FFPE EPO
  7. Union Syndicale Federale Slams FFPE-EPO for Helping Abusive EPO Management by Signing a Malicious, Divisive Document
  8. FFPE-EPO Says MoU With Battistelli Will “Defend Employment Conditions” (Updated)
  9. Their Masters’ Voice (Who Block Techrights): FFPE-EPO Openly Discourages Members From Reading Techrights
  10. Letter Says EPO MoU “Raises Questions About FFPE’s Credibility as a Federation of Genuine Staff Unions”
  11. On Day of Strike FFPE-EPO Reaffirms Status as Yellow (Fake/Management-Leaning) Union, Receives ‘Gifts’
  12. Needed Urgently: Information About the Secret Meeting of Board 28 and Battistelli’s Yellow Union, FFPE-EPO
  13. In Battistelli’s Mini Union (Minion) It Takes Less Than 10 Votes to ‘Win’ an Election

With ‘unions’ like these, who needs union busters?

Microsoft Extortion Against Android OEMs (Even Chinese Companies) Continues in Spite of Departure of Horacio Gutierrez

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Patents at 6:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Xiaomi patent settlement

Summary: Microsoft reminds us that it is still engaging in patent extortion by signing yet another patent settlement deal which requires surrendering to Microsoft

JUST over a month ago Microsoft officials made it clear that the patent war against Android was still on. Now it’s confirmed by actions.

Today’s post is reactionary, as usual, and it will be about Microsoft extortion. We shall provide some background information to help explain why European regulators should put Microsoft on trial instead of taking Microsoft’s lobbying in Europe seriously, imposing fines on Google and acting as Google watchdogs.

Microsoft’s patent extortion against companies in China isn’t entirely new. Remember what it did to ZTE 3 years ago. Chinese authorities got visibly irritated by Microsoft’s patent shakedown and released a previously-secret list of patents Microsoft uses to extort companies in China, compelling them to obey Microsoft’s demands so as to avert costly litigation. Xiaomi is the latest victim, but to Microsoft the high-prized deal would be with Huawei, which is a growing force and dominant OEM in the Android domain. Huawei, based on reports we mentioned in past years, doesn’t surrender.

“Xiaomi is the latest victim, but to Microsoft the high-prized deal would be with Huawei, which is a growing force and dominant OEM in the Android domain.”More patent extortion from Microsoft serves to remind us that there is no strategic change at Microsoft. Microsoft cannot coexist with Linux and leave it alone/live in peace; it cannot help itself, it’s a scorpion (riding on a tortoise/turtle as per the famous parable) and it just keeps pinching that which it’s exploiting for a free ride (Android in this case) while relying on regulators — through lobbying — to prevent defensive reaction from Google. Horacio Gutierrez may be gone, but nothing substantial happened or changed. Don’t believe for a second that just because Microsoft’s patent Mafia don has left it somehow means the extortion strategy stopped. Microsoft never rescinded or withdrew this, except on April 1st (as a prank).

For those who are not sure what Microsoft is doing here, how it misleads the media, and what it means in practical terms, see this article about Acer. The above is repetition of the same strategy. They are putting lipstick on a pig again.

“This has nothing to do with access to services, it’s just how they dress up patent extortion and the coercion which comes with it.”In short, Microsoft tells Xiaomi, “do what we say or we’ll sue you with patents.” In other words, Microsoft threatens litigation and gives a “get out” clause (make Android become just a Microsoft platform). Having just killed Windows on mobile, this is all Microsoft has left. It uses blackmail tactics to impose its malware/spyware on potentially billions of phones. The ‘official’ announcement says this:

Microsoft Corp. and Xiaomi Inc. have expanded their global partnership to provide innovative user experiences on mobile devices. As part of the agreement, Xiaomi will ship Microsoft Office and Skype on Xiaomi Android smartphones and tablets. As a result, tens of millions of consumers and business customers in China, India and around the world will have new ways to work, collaborate and communicate. The companies’ new collaboration also includes a cross-license and patent transfer agreement.

Don’t be misled by “cross-license and patent transfer agreement.” It’s a settlement basically. The FFII’s President responded to this as follows: “Microsoft is the biggest patent troll.”

This has nothing to do with access to services, it’s just how they dress up patent extortion and the coercion which comes with it. And they tell us Microsoft “loves Linux”… does anybody still believe that? Not even Microsoft’s marketing staff should be gullible enough to believe it.

Update: Based on updates given to relatively high-profile reporters (and those who updated their puff pieces accordingly), Microsoft managed to get ‘protection’ money too, albeit not in the traditional form. Xiaomi has just been pressured to have paid (unless it just wanted to pay) Microsoft for useless patents; this is either a novel way to disguise another case of blackmail against Linux or part of Xiaomi’s patent hoarding efforts. Either way, it’s starting to become apparent that Xiaomi paid Microsoft, one way or another (the amount is not known). “The Wall Street Journal reports that Xiaomi will purchase 1,500 patents from Microsoft as part of the deal,” says one writer, citing an article that says “Xiaomi Corp. has agreed to purchase around 1,500 patents” (the term “agreed to purchase” suggests that it came from Microsoft, not from Xiaomi).

Vice-President of the European Patent Office Under Many Police Investigations

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Croatia police reports

Summary: The latest developments in Zagreb, where Battistelli’s ‘bulldog’ faces many criminal charges for the chaos he had caused (resulting//culminating even in suicide)

New documents from Croatia have begun reaching us and sources in Zagreb suggest some big things are about to happen (we mentioned or alluded to these before).

A copy of a “Special Report” dated the 28th April 2016 (i.e. one month ago) from the Zagreb Police Authority is shown above (plus translation at the bottom). Quoting our source: “This document indicates that the police have already compiled around five investigation reports in response to a number of complaints against Željko Topić,” who now viciously attacks EPO staff. He’s like Battistelli’s ‘bulldog’ and rumours suggest that Battistelli will soon ask for extension of his term. Reports (police investigations) already compiled include (but may not be limited to):

  • 24th of June 2013
  • 13th of November 2013
  • 18th of November 2013
  • 22nd of November 2013
  • 24th of June 2014

“It seems that there was no follow-up on these police reports by the State Attorney’s Office,” our source told us. “It is suspected that this was due to some kind of political interference during the Presidency of Ivo Josipovic who was voted out of office in January 2015.

“The justice system in Croatia now seems to be slowly gathering momentum so there could be some interesting developments on this front over the coming weeks.”

Some other sources of ours (in Zagreb) suggest so as well. Below is the full English translation.

Economic Crime Unit
Zagreb, 28 April 2016


Reference: Your number XXXXXXXXX of 10 March 2016

Pursuant to Art. 206 h. no. 1 of the Code of Criminal Procedure the following is submitted:

We note that the police officers of the Economic Crime Unit, Zagreb Police Authority, carried out a criminal investigation based on an anonymous submission received by the National Police Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime (hereinafter: PNUSKOK) on 14 June 2013, alleging abuse on the part of a former official and director of the State Intellectual Property Office, Z . T., which was submitted to District Attorney’s Office in Zagreb on 24 June 2013 and on which a criminal investigation was carried out.

During this criminal investigation, the police officers of this unit again received from the PNUSKOK a criminal complaint with submissions dated 09 January 2013 filed by V. S. against Z. T. and S. M. of the Ministry of Business and Trade with the Office of the District Attorney in Zagreb, the listed criminal charges being identical to the criminal complaint attached to your order, number and date as referred to above.

Please note that we conducted an investigation into the said criminal charges and that everything which we have done was reported to the Municipal State Attorney of Zagreb in our special report number XXXXXXXXX of 24 June 2013, 13 November 2013, 22 November 2013 and 24 June 2014, their number XXXXXXXXX of 18 November 2013.

Police officer


Battistelli’s Self-Serving ‘European Inventor of the Year’ Charade a Classic Example of Waste and Abuse

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sepp Blatterstelli

Summary: Astronomical amounts of money are being given to private companies and even broadcasters (i.e. buying the media) to create a silly festival for Team Battistelli (mirroring what FIFA habitually does)

UNDER Battistelli, who is worse than Blatter of FIFA in many ways, huge secret contracts are given to private companies, including rather dodgy contracts. We have already explained why this is wrong. Battistelli is wasting EPO budget to help distract from his never-ending abuses and now he prepares a political event dressed up as "science" with high risk and paid-for coverage.

“For information,” told us one reader, some numbers are available to highlight the huge degree of Battistelli’s lavish spendings/waste. “Estimated costs,” this reader told us “of “European Inventor of the Year” (2015)” (which was probably cheaper than this year’s) were as follows:

For the costs of “European Inventor of the Year” in 2015 the estimates range from 3 to 7 million Euros.

It is documented that 1.5 million Euros went to CNN which is one of six “media partners” paid for covering the event. Figures for the payments to the other “media partners” are not available.

Another 800.000 Euros went to VOK DAMS Events.

When other costs such as catering, travel and accommodation for all invitees and working time for EPO staff are factored in, the total is at least 3 million Euros and it has been estimated it could be as much as 7 million Euros.

This unaccountable (after so-called ‘reforms’) President is nuts and evidence we have (albeit not sufficiently well verified) suggests he is lying about his salary. Is he also lying about the so-called ‘bicycle affair’. He had an extremely dodgy guy deliver the message. Were bicycles of Battistelli damaged at some EPO parking lot? A better question to ask is, do such bicycles exist in the first place? We would not be shocked if Battistelli (whom someone told us wants his own limousine) only found out that the EPO had gave him a bicycle upon the nonsense used to justifysix bodyguards that cost a fortune at almost the same time as the budget meeting. Does anyone know anything about a limousine and a private lift? We keep hearing rumours about these, but it’s hard to substantiate. Either way, here is a new comment about the ‘bicycle affair’ (as some people now call it):

All this leaves me with a question:
Is there anybody who would know BB’s bicycle from all the other bicycles present in the bicycle parking lot? Or does it carry a plate saying: I am BB’s bicycle? Another question: Does he own the bicycle or is it EPO owned and is BB merely allowed to use it? If there really is really a bicycle at all….. One just wonders……

Here is a new ode about it:

F reshly pumped up and ready to pedal
I deas of reform,threatening to meddle
V ery high increases that could brake the bank
E xtremely tyresome,is this some kind of prank?

F or these proposals he must Raleigh the troops
O ne spokesperson referred to too many holes in the loops
L et’s not get saddled with another fee hike
D on’t vote for it! Get on yer bike!

Even caricatures are now circulating or being circulated, demonstrating just how much EPO staff loathes the crazed boss (0% approval rate).

Crazed Battistelli is Trying Plan B to Demolish the Boards of Appeal (Quality Control), Praesidium/Association of Members Strikes Back

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mutiny against the man who thinks he’s King [1, 2]


Summary: The feud between the independent (in principle) boards and the man who believes he’s King/Caesar of Eponia escalates, as new details emerge about the latest attack from the ‘King’ against these independent boards whose role is to assure quality at the EPO

THE EPO‘s current President is not a change agent but a demolition agent. Ask Board 28 what they think about this. They recently called it a "crisis".

Things are heating up for ‘Sun King’ (megalomaniac President with a God complex) as leaks have reached The Register which show the latest pushback. In the author’s own words:

Undeterred by staff cutting his brakes, president of the European Patent Office (EPO), Benoit Battistelli, has now enraged his organization’s Boards of Appeal.

In a letter [PDF] leaked to The Register, the boards – which act as the EPO’s judicial body – make a series of severe criticisms of Battistelli’s proposed structural reforms that would in effect make him King.

Noting that the aim of the reform was to increase the autonomy of the boards, the association that represents all 28 global boards complains in a letter sent earlier this month that it would in fact “decrease the level of autonomy and independence.”

The Association of the Members of the Boards of Appeal (AMBA) also points out that the proposed reforms do not follow “the main internationally recognized principles of judicial independence.”

As with an agreement that the EPO management has been trying to force on worker unions – leading to a series of strikes – one of the biggest complaints that AMBA has is that the new agreement gives the EPO President the ability to completely change the system at a future date.


As to how such changes ended up in the proposal without being challenged, well that’s because Battistelli and his team didn’t consult with the boards that it was seeking to reform. From the letter: “The Boards have been given little or no opportunity to comment on central aspects of the current proposal. Many of them have not been presented to the Boards at all.”

The boards did make suggestions and proposals, but so far they have gone precisely nowhere. “The vast majority of our proposals, comments and concerns have not been taken into account in the proposed rules and are not reflected in any other way, for example in the explanatory notes or in the ‘Alternatives’ section, which is conspicuous by its absence.”

In short, it’s not just the EPO staff that the wildly unpopular president is trying to become king of, he’s also trying to take over the very independent processes that are supposed to hold his organization’s decisions to account.

All hail King Battistelli!

The above does not merit further comment. We have covered these affairs for years and based on this exclusive new post from Merpel, having failed to send the boards to exile (due to some resistance from the Administrative Council), ENA graduate Sun King is trying a new strategy that can destroy the boards by reducing workload/demand (same tactics which Conservatives in the UK employ against the NHS). It’s all about astronomical price hikes that would make the boards’ reviews too financially prohibitive for most parties. To quote Merpel:

Merpel thought that nothing at the European Patent Office could surprise her any more. How wrong she was. She has now received news of a draft of the latest proposal from the EPO administration to reform the EPO Boards of Appeal. The background is given in her previous post, second and third headings.

As she wrote before, the previous proposals from the EPO President to the Administrative Council for the reform of the Boards of Appeal were criticised since they conflated independence with efficiency and seemed fixated on moving the Boards to another physical location. The new proposal suffers from all the same defects, but now adds another one – the Boards are not sufficiently self-financing, according to Battistelli and his team.


An increase of the appeal fee is suggested in the draft proposal, from the current level of €1880 to €2940 in 2017, and rising to €7350 by 2021.

Merpel thinks that this is completely outrageous.

Firstly, one reason for appeal is that a refusal by the Examining Division is wrong. As examiners are put under greater pressure for productivity, wrong refusals are expected to be more, not less, common. Applicants will be penalised by such a massive fee increase. There is a provision for refund of the appeal fee in the case of a substantial procedural violation, but it is perfectly possible for the examination to be shoddy without amounting to a substantial procedural violation.

Secondly, considering substantial procedural violations, are the Boards now going to be under pressure not to adjudicate that one has taken place, because it will reduce their funding? That would have the complete opposite of the alleged effect, to decrease their independence not increase it.

Thirdly, Merpel has seen no corresponding proposal to decrease other EPO procedural fees to offset the effect. She will be very surprised if one is forthcoming.


The next Administrative Council meeting is at the end of June. Merpel sincerely hopes that this mad proposal will be ditched before then, or rejected by the Administrative Council.

This post has attracted insightful comments pretty quickly, presumably from EPO staff and lawyers/attorneys based on the nature of the comments. Here is why Battistelli should be sacked this month:

This is another example of how Batistelli’s changes result in exactly the opposite of what the AC told him to do and how they go completely against the interests and criticisms of the users.

Here is some discussion about the bogus economics:

More analysis needs to be done on the costs of the boards.

An applicant who appeals a decision refusing the application generates a massive annuity windfall for the office. For an applcation refused after ten years experiencing a four year appeal procedure, the extra annuity payments which the office receives would be €6,000 odd. Similarly, a proprietor in an opposition appeal against a decision revoking the patent effectively generates cash for the EPO thorugh the national renewal fees. Once these have been factored in, I am sure the 4% figure would rise to around the 25% mark

And more on the costs:

CA/90/13 (point 31) seems to indicate that the recent increase in appeal fees from €1240 to €1860 would result in a “cost coverage per appeal” of about 6%. Was this found to be overly optimistic or is 4.2% an outdated figure? One assumes that the further increase from €1860 to €1880 did not make much difference. Presumably, neither the 4.2% nor the 6% figures include any renewal fees. This seems unfair since it would seem that a significant portion of those renewal fees result from applications that would be refused (or granted, resulting in shared fees) without the appeal, such that the fees would not reach the office if the appeal was not filed.

The following comment echoes what we have warned about for many years (almost a decade), using the USPTO as a warming sign/testament. Having doubled the number of granted patents there, the USPTO is not much different anymore from a registration/filing system (92% of applications wind up being accepted to be granted). Here is the comment in full:

I think that Merpel has got this right apart from one glaring error. The increasing productivity demands on examiners are far more likely to lead to an increase in “wrong grants” rather than “wrong refusals.” The purpose of the the productivity increases is to raise renewal fee revenue and there are no renewal fees for refusals. The whole system is set up to pressure examiners to grant more patent, so from a production point of view, it is still far easier for an examining division to grant a patent than to refuse it. The German Federal Patents Court and English Patents Courts both revoke the vast majority of hi-tech patents that come before them. Of the ones that survive, it is rare for the claims to survive in the form in which they were granted. That would appear to suggest that the EPO examination is becoming redundant.

My guess would be that in the future, the EPO will be refusing very few patent applications. They may even stop examining (or pretending to examine) them at all. So, let’s not worry too much about the BoAs. They will probably redundant in a few years anyway.

More comments on this take into account renewal fees:

As others have commented here, if the Office really wants to fund the Boards differently, then it would seem equitable to credit the Boards with at least a proportion of the renewal fees earned while a case is under appeal.

On the other hand, since the Office is obliged by TRIPS to provide recourse to a court/board of appeal, one could instead say that the Office should just suck it up and pay for what is a necessary running cost (part of the “deal” that it has to grant EP patents).

Here is another interesting comment which is probably too much for neoliberal ENA graduates to digest considering the financial bubbles and crises they repeatedly led to for decades:

As far as I understand, presently EPO appeals are funded similarly to a car or health insurance.
For example, in case of car insurance, everybody pays a small amount every month to cover a very rare/expensive case of a car accident.

The same, I guess, happens with an EPO appeal fee.

I.e., everybody pays various fees during patent prosecution. In each of those fees, a small percentage (%) is reserved for a relatively rare case of appeal. In this way, a high one-time appeal payment is avoided by paying it in parts with various ‘office actions’.

A proposed increase of appeal fees would mean decrease of all other EPO fees, respectively?

Putting the costs in perspective:

The suggestion of a five fold increase to cover the costs strikes me as being spin to hide the real intentions behind the suggestion. Raising the appeal fee to such a punitive level will dissuade parties from filing appeals except in the most important of cases. The net result will be a reduction in workload and a corresponding shrinkage in the BoAs. A punishment, therefore, for having dared to say boo to the President.

In response to this we have:

Comparing filing, search, examination, designation and a few year’s renewal fees with the proposed level of appeal fee, the phrase “double or quits” springs to mind.

And here comes a tongue-in-cheek remark:

For the EPO president, the quality of the search and the examination at the European patent Office is the best of the world.
For obscure motivations, a small group of applicants (a minority) is challenging this excellent quality, and are lodging appeals to the BoA.
It is logic that such bad behaviour can not be encouraged. A way to improve the system, is to increase the fees of the appeals.

The obligatory FIFA comparisons:

How is it that, at the AC, a large number of the smaller EPC Member States support BB? Does it not remind you of the support Mr Blatter could count on, within FIFA? Could it be that BB (from his palace on the top floor of the Isar building) just like cunning old Seppie, pays these Member States each year an ever-bigger dividend? At the EPO, how might he do that? Here are some possibilities:

1. Shrug off the costs of DG3 (but keep the filing, prosecution, opposition and annuity fees high).

2. Hold annuity fee income high by giving Applicants the possibility to defer patent grant more or less for ever. Take care though to provide, for those few who want it, a quick and dirty grant (and the huge burden of multiple national annuities that goes with it).

3. Squeeze ever more output from ever fewer highly paid employees. “Never mind the quality, feel the width” as the cynical old saying goes.

Seen through that lens, everything BB does makes sense. Sad isn’t it?

Another reminder that the EPO harms Europeans SMEs and discriminates against them:

I do not know why sloppier examination (i.e. more grants) would reduce the number of appeals. It will certainly cause an increase in the number of oppositions and since the number of oppositions is more or less proportional to the number of appeals with an increase of oppositions also the amount of appeals will increase.

It would be illogical (and indeed I agree with Merpel) injust to ncrease the appeal fees to credit the balance of the costs of DG3. If that would be the case also the fee for opposition should be increased in the same way (but I probably should not raise this, because it might give BB some ideas). Anyhow, the idea to only raise the fees for appeals seems to be very biased.

High costs of appeals indeed would seem very harsh in appeals from decisions of the Receiving Section and/or the Examining Division. But how about appeals in disciplinary cases: do our EQE candidates who want to protest about the decisions of the Exam committees need to suffer by paying an appeal fee that they hardly can afford? Or can we see a reduction scheme? Maybe also some reductions for the poor SMEs?

I would suggest to allocate the budget that is needed for the inventor-of-the-year festival (which can easily be discarded with) to DG3. In any case that will already make up for a large part of the current deficit.

Then comes defeatism:

It is the attitude of the member states that I do not understand. Inside the Office, almost everybody would agree that we are heading against the wall – and still speeding up. Now I can understand that the President and his friends favor short term profits; most likely, he will not be in charge any more when the bubble bursts. But the member states should have long term interests in maintaining the European patent system (and their most cherished unitary patent, which is built on it) alive. Why would they let the President kill the goose that lays the golden eggs and even applaud? I really do not get it. They are either extremely naive (but normally they are not when their national interest is involved) or strangely apathetic. Even the Albanian representative who hardly knows what a patent looks like must understand that his country will get less money once people realize that a German patent might be better value than a European one, must he not?

I am afraid we get the world we deserve.

Waste and abuse is then brought up:

Millipede rightly suggests to allocate the budget that is needed for the inventor-of-the-year festival (which can easily be discarded with) to DG3, which would make up for a large part of the current deficit.
The same applies to the budgets for media “partnerships”, body guards, investigators, “technical” cooperation with members states, “medical care” for AC representatives, incompetent VP´s and secret remuneration of the president and many more. As a result the appeal fee could be dispensed with entirely.

Regarding the above-mentioned “inventor-of-the-year festival”, we will soon publish details about the costs associated with it. In order to help our research, may we suggest that people send E-mails or call up “media partners” of the EPO to figure out the financial arrangements?

People have also just noticed the aforementioned report from The Register:

The Presidium and AMBA have commented on the proposed reforms of the BoAs:


as reported by The Register:


We have got a lot to publish about the EPO today, so stay tuned and please send any relevant/additional material to us (e.g. regarding yesterday’s session in the Bavarian Parliament, which grew worried about the EPO). Things are getting hot on Battistelli’s seat ahead of the Administrative Council’s meeting later this month. As one new comment put it: “So who has the power to fire this guy?” Some compare him to Donald Trump over at The Register. One person responded with: “And more importantly, who has the power to fire the guy who has the power to fire this guy, because he clearly hasn’t been doing his job by not firing this guy, so he’s undeniably either dirty or incompetent, and needs to go along with Mr. Kingie. I’d rather not wait until the guy who has the power to fire the guy who has the power to fire this guy needs firing too for the same offence…”

The problem is, Mr. Kongstad, who is able to get rid of Battistelli, not only fails to do so but also keeps his contracts secret, which makes him rather complicit.

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