The Rule of Law and Justice Don’t Exist Inside the EPO, Confirms the International Labour Organisation (ILO)

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 9:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO screw is loose

Summary: Further analysis of the latest rulings from the ILO — decisions that were long expected

THE EPO does not quite respect the principles of the Rule of Law and justice. It’s a mirage or an illusion. We covered it on Thursday, based on the latest ILO decisions.

The “ILO sends European Patent Office Director Battistelli flying,” EPSU which has been involved recently writes about this judgment (in Twitter earlier this evening), as it “Validates complaints [of] staff…”

This links to an article that a handful of EPO insiders told us about. One person said ““every single internal appeal” handled by the Appeals Committee in its current composition from Oct 14 to today legally flawed…”

William New from IP Watch wrote:

The judgments are “remarkable” for several reasons, said the source who wished to remain anonymous.

First, they show that the ILO is trying to clarify formal errors that upset procedures and cause major problems, said the source. In addition, both express criticism of the current EPO president, the source said.

Judgment No 3796 clarifies that “every single internal appeal” handled by the Appeals Committee in its current composition – from October 2014 to today – is legally flawed, the source said. That means that many cases will have to be dealt with again, after a new internal appeals system is created, the source said. To fix the flaw, the president will have to ask the CSC to nominate members for the committee, but because two members of the Appeals Committee have been demoted after disciplinary procedures were launched against them by the administration, the CSC has refused to act. “The ILO judgment puts pressure on” Battistelli to make concessions to the CSC, the source added.

In addition, under Judgment No. 3785, complaints by several hundred staff members against the new career system will have to be revisited, and those judgments will be delayed. Both decisions will likely figure into the 14-15 December AC meeting “since they show that employees’ justice is currently denied at the Office,” the source noted.

All of this is “bad for the reputation and credibility” of the European patent system, said the source. It’s also bad for the image of responsible governments such as France, the Netherlands and Germany, so “there will be a lot of pressure on the delegations to finally fix some issues.”

The latest fictional diary from the EPO is based on the above. Many people are likely to speak about this for quite some time to come.

A Day in the Life of… Battistelli’s Banana Republic

Posted in Europe, Humour, Patents at 8:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: This is part 5 of a fictional diary from the EPO

November 2016 was looking so good right up to the end. And then came those stupid, stupid judgments from the ILO.

A man of my greatness doesn’t deserve such humiliations. I’ve had a fabulous year. A few morons in the Administrative Council thought they would stand up to me. Well, they soon realised how hopeless their efforts were when all my friends stood shoulder to shoulder with me and pressed the right buttons when it came to the vote. When I say “friends”, I mean it in the political sense, of course. It’s not as though they had any choice. I made it quite clear to them what would happen to their “co-operation” money if they pressed the wrong button.

Once I’d taken care of those hopeless revolutionaries in the Council, I was free to get back to my favourite pastime – bullying staff reps. I’ve made it so easy for myself with all the changes I’ve introduced, almost too easy. It’s like a cat playing with a half-dead mouse. But hey, it’s still fun watching them suffer. I just loved signing that decision to fire Prunier. Not only did I feel a great surge of satisfaction at his pain, but I was also sticking up my middle finger to the clowns in the Council. It was wonderful.

Being unfair to others is part of my nature. It’s a real pleasure to me. Of course, there is nothing like a bit of competition to add some spice and some extra motivation to my evilness. And that is why I like Frankie Boy in Geneva so much. We have a private bet on who can get away with the biggest and most obvious crimes and violations of the rights of others, without getting fired or ending up in jail.

It is not really the challenge, though, that I would like it to be. Firstly, because Frankie foolishly agreed that Lutz the Klutz could be the judge deciding who wins. Secondly, because I am well ahead in the race. Sure, I never ordered to take DNA samples to identify a wrongdoer, and I am a bit jealous that I didn’t think of it first. But, let’s face it, I don’t need scientific gimmicks to catch the scum I want to get rid of. I know myself who’s guilty: the people I dislike. I simply give Elodie their names, she tells the Investigation Unit what they have to do, and they do it. Any kind of garbage is enough, since I am the judge anyway. And – thanks to my immunity – I am clearly a truly independent judge. That gives me the moral authority to explain to the public why the accused is guilty as sin. The public then sees me as a benevolent, loving leader, and admires my leniency in the softness of the punishment I impose.

If it weren’t for Frankie Boy, I’d like to call my system the EPO Kangaroo Court but that would almost sound like I was honouring him and his silly upside-down nationality. Anyhow, whatever you call my clever legal system, thanks to the fact that I can determine myself whether and how to apply the ECHR, all legal requirements are met. That’s at least what I tell my buddy Joff and the Council. They believe everything.

It sometimes happens that Elodie adds a few more names to the list. As in the case of Weaver and Brumme. And that’s good since it leads to persecutions where nobody can understand how I pick my victims. That intensifies the climate of fear in the Office. The higher the level of fear, the higher the production – that’s the secret of my success. The delegations love increasing production numbers since they are addicted to the cash.

Ah, I was having so much fun all month, right up to the end. And then, on the very last day came that idiotic judgment. I must get Klutzy to make an appointment for me with those idiotic judges in Geneva. I bet Frankie Boy has been bribing them to be mean to me. I need to get over there and offer them more than he is paying. Or maybe I’ll take my hunky body guards with me and explain what they can do if they get upset by people being mean to me. I could send them round to Frankie while we’re there. Oh, revenge will be sweet.

So, they think, those scumbag judges, that they have just rendered our Internal Appeal Committee retroactively null and void from the beginning of 2015. Hahahaha. Haven’t they heard of immunity, those fools? What are they going to do if I just ignore them, eh? Oh, this is going to be such fun. I can exploit the situation to my own advantage. After all, they’ve just dramatically increased our appeals backlog, haven’t they? So, I shall just have to be the decisive leader again and put measures in place to reduce the backlog. I shall call it “Early Certainty from Internal Appeals”. The only certainty will be that I refuse ALL of them. HAHAHA – je m’en fous – this is going to be so much fun. I shall prepare a Council document tomorrow, explaining how all internal appeals will be deemed refused. In fact, I shall make them retroactively refused so that the deadline has already expired for taking them to Geneva. I am such a genius. And all the staff can go on suffering.

Being president is so much fun. Je m’en fous.

Links 1/12/2016: Devuan Beta, R3 Liberates Code

Posted in News Roundup at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Science

    • The conservative group behind efforts to intimidate professors

      Last week, a conservative group called Turning Point USA published a “Professor Watchlist” that targets academics accused of pushing a “radical agenda.” But the project is part of the group’s much larger effort to organize young conservatives on college campuses.

      Since its start in 2012, the group has started local chapters at hundreds of universities and high schools across the United States. Founder Charlie Kirk has used the megaphone of social media — he has over 84,000 followers on Twitter — and his regular television appearances as the conservative Millennial to bring attention to his organization and the Professor Watchlist.

      Although much of the The Turning Point USA website is benign, some of its resources claim affirmative action is unfair and suggest being confrontational with groups seeking safe spaces.

  • Hardware

    • Apple’s Bootcamp audio driver can permanently damage the speakers on the new MacBook Pro

      For the past 11 years, Apple has offered formal support for installing Windows on a Macintosh running OS X via its Boot Camp Assistant software. If you need Windows on a Macintosh and don’t want to use virtualization software to run it, Boot Camp will resize your hard drive partition to create a new Windows volume and ships with its own set of drivers for your underlying hardware. Apple tends to aggressively prune support for older operating systems — Boot Camp 6.1, which shipped with macOS 10.12 (Sierra), only supports Windows 10 — but Cupertino’s QA team clearly screwed up its compatibility testing, even with just one operating system to evaluate. Multiple customers who purchased one of Apple’s new MacBook Pros are reporting that the default Boot Camp audio driver can permanently damage the system’s speakers.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO Board May Discuss UN High-Level Panel Report On Medicines Access

      The UN World Health Organization this week clarified that the possibility exists for the WHO Executive Board to discuss a recently released report from a UN Secretary General-appointed panel that makes recommendations for improving global access to medicines.

    • Tobacco giant predicts the end of smoking. Panic ensues

      A few years ago, I interviewed Dr Craig Ventner, the man who decoded the human genome, about his plan to save the planet. Ventner’s goal was to create a drop-in substitute for hydrocarbon fuels, using genetically modified algae.

      His algae facilities would be located beside high CO2 sources, and churn out synthetic oil. This could then be turned into aviation fuel, or petrol.

      It was the first low carbon project Exxon had ever invested in. The beauty of Ventner’s scheme was that much of the world’s transport infrastructure could carry on unmodified, with enormous savings on carbon dioxide emissions.*

    • Man in the Netherlands euthanised due to his alcohol addiction

      A man in the Netherlands has been allowed to die because he could no longer carry on living as an alcoholic.

      Mark Langedijk chose the day of his death and was telling jokes, drinking beer and eating ham sandwiches with his family hours before he passed away.

      He was killed by lethal injection at his parents’ home on 14 July, according to an account of the ordeal written by his brother and published in the magazine Linda.

      The Netherlands introduced a euthanasia law 16 years ago, which is available to people in “unbearable suffering” with no prospect of improvement.

    • Weaver: ‘It makes no sense’ Flint aid stalled

      Flint officials, including Mayor Karen Weaver, renewed their call Monday for Congress to approve aid for the lead-contaminated water crisis before its members break for the holidays.

      In a conference call, Weaver said lawmakers should push ahead for Flint aid in the Water Resources Development Act legislation funding for the city and its long-running water issues in a new budget bill.

      “Flint needs to stay a priority — we cannot let this go away,” she said. “This is November. We’re six months into our third year … that the residents of Flint have not been able to bathe or cool with their water. It makes no sense.”

    • There’s no water in Flint

      The most banal example philosophers use in discussing conceptual analysis is water; from Putnam’s twin earth papers to Kaplan’s two-dimensionalism, this is the classic example that is supposed to illustrate something valuable about the way that concepts work. I won’t delve too much into the traditional analyses, here, though a familiar observer may note this as a fairly strong rebuke of those analyses; I also won’t delve into whether or not water is a better or worse concept for such illustrations than its more problematic sibling, pain.

      Per Kaplan, we take it that any semantic analysis of water has to include two dimensions. The first dimension has to do with our ordinary exposure to water; water is the sort of thing that “plays the water role.” (To borrow Dave Chalmers’ locution.) That is, water is the stuff that functionally behaves like water, in that we drink it, and wash with it, etc. and that occupies the places that we expect water to occupy, e.g. lakes, rivers, bathtubs, etc. This is the ordinary dimension of water.

    • This Is Why the Flint Water Crisis Is Still Ongoing

      Of course you do. It’s the city in Michigan where drinking water was contaminated by lead seeping through pipes in 2014. City officials denied the leakage problem for months, causing a serious problem, NPR reported. High blood lead levels ensued as Flint residents drank the water, which was particularly harmful to children and pregnant women, causing learning disabilities in developing brains.

    • Flint family says Navy is retaliating for speaking out about water crisis

      Lee Anne Walters and her family were the first in Flint, Michigan, to discover that there were astronomically high levels of lead in the water and alert the Environmental Protection Agency. But the family now says her criticism and advocacy during the water crisis has been met with workplace retaliation and harassment against her husband, a sailor with the US Navy.

      “We’re still recovering from Flint. We never thought we’d be in this position again,” Walters said, explaining that she is afraid her husband is in danger of losing his job. “We are afraid now for our livelihoods.”

      Dennis Walters, a 17-year Navy veteran, has filed a complaint claiming mistreatment at work due to his wife’s role in the Flint water crisis.

      In a complaint filed last week, Dennis Walters claims that he has been repeatedly mistreated at the Sewells Point Police Precinct, which is part of Naval Station Norfolk, because his wife has been so outspoken. He claims that the pattern of harassment began in March after she testified in Congress.

      “Since I testified at the state Senate hearing, things got progressively worse,” Lee Anne Walters said. “They threatened to force him into a hardship discharge if he didn’t get me under control.”

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • What Malware Is on Your Router?

      Mirai is exposing a serious security issue with the Internet of Things that absolutely must be quickly handled.

      Until a few days ago, I had been seriously considering replacing the 1999 model Apple Airport wireless router I’ve been using since it was gifted to me in 2007. It still works fine, but I have a philosophy that any hardware that’s more than old enough to drive probably needs replacing. I’ve been planning on taking the 35 mile drive to the nearest Best Buy outlet on Saturday to see what I could get that’s within my price range.

      After the news of this week, that trip is now on hold. For the time being I’ve decided to wait until I can be reasonably sure that any router I purchase won’t be hanging out a red light to attract the IoT exploit-of-the-week.

      It’s not just routers. I’m also seriously considering installing the low-tech sliding door devices that were handed out as swag at this year’s All Things Open to block the all-seeing-eye of the web cams on my laptops. And I’m becoming worried about the $10 Vonage VoIP modem that keeps my office phone up and running. Thank goodness I don’t have a need for a baby monitor and I don’t own a digital camera, other than what’s on my burner phone.

    • National Lottery ‘hack’ is the poster-girl of consumer security fails

      IN THE NEW age of hacking, you don’t even need to be a hacker. National Lottery management company Camelot has confirmed that up to 26,500 online accounts for their systems may have been compromised in an attempted hack, that required no hacking.

      It appears the players affected have been targetted from hacks to other sites, and the resulting availability of their credentials on the dark web. With so many people using the same password across multiple sites, it takes very little brute force to attack another site, which is what appears to have happened here.

    • Mozilla and Tor release urgent update for Firefox 0-day under active attack

      “The security flaw responsible for this urgent release is already actively exploited on Windows systems,” a Tor official wrote in an advisory published Wednesday afternoon. “Even though there is currently, to the best of our knowledge, no similar exploit for OS X or Linux users available, the underlying bug affects those platforms as well. Thus we strongly recommend that all users apply the update to their Tor Browser immediately.”

      The Tor browser is based on the open-source Firefox browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation. Shortly after this post went live, Mozilla security official Daniel Veditz published a blog post that said the vulnerability has also been fixed in a just-released version of Firefox for mainstream users. On early Wednesday, Veditz said, his team received a copy of the attack code that exploited a previously unknown vulnerability in Firefox.

    • Tor Browser 6.0.7 is released

      Tor Browser 6.0.7 is now available from the Tor Browser Project page and also from our distribution directory.

      This release features an important security update to Firefox and contains, in addition to that, an update to NoScript (

      The security flaw responsible for this urgent release is already actively exploited on Windows systems. Even though there is currently, to the best of our knowledge, no similar exploit for OS X or Linux users available the underlying bug affects those platforms as well. Thus we strongly recommend that all users apply the update to their Tor Browser immediately. A restart is required for it to take effect.

      Tor Browser users who had set their security slider to “High” are believed to have been safe from this vulnerability.

    • Firefox 0-day in the wild is being used to attack Tor users

      Firefox developer Mozilla and Tor have patched the underlying vulnerability, which is found not only in the Windows version of the browser, but also the versions of Mac OS X and Linux.

      There’s a zero-day exploit in the wild that’s being used to execute malicious code on the computers of people using Tor and possibly other users of the Firefox browser, officials of the anonymity service confirmed Tuesday.

      Word of the previously unknown Firefox vulnerability first surfaced in this post on the official Tor website. It included several hundred lines of JavaScript and an introduction that warned: “This is an [sic] JavaScript exploit actively used against TorBrowser NOW.” Tor cofounder Roger Dingledine quickly confirmed the previously unknown vulnerability and said engineers from Mozilla were in the process of developing a patch.

    • Mozilla Patches SVG Animation Remote Code Execution in Firefox and Thunderbird

      If you’ve been reading the news lately, you might have stumbled upon an article that talked about a 0-day vulnerability in the Mozilla Firefox web browser, which could be used to attack Tor users running Tor Browser on Windows systems.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • France wants urgent U.N. Security Council meeting on Aleppo

      France called on Tuesday for an immediate United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the situation in Aleppo and said it would press for a U.N. resolution to punish the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

      Speaking ahead of a meeting in the Belarusian capital Minsk on the Ukrainian crisis, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Syrian government forces and their allies would not resolve the Syrian conflict by carrying out one of the “biggest massacres on a civilian population since World War Two.”

    • Women who are captured by Isis and kept as slaves endure more than just sexual violence

      On August 3 2014, Isis attacked the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, as part of their campaign to eradicate the Yazidi people and “purify” the region of non-Islamic influences.

      That same day, Prince Tahseen Said, leader of the Yazidi people, issued an “urgent distress call” to the international community to “to assume their humanitarian and nationalistic responsibilities” and help the 40,000 Yazidis who had fled their homes in the district.

      But it was already too late for Nadia Murad. Aged 19, she lived in the quiet farming village of Kocho, within the area around Sinjar ISIS had selected for “purification”. Before the Isis militants arrived, she lived with her large family of brothers and sisters and was studying at high school, harbouring dreams of becoming a history teacher and perhaps a make-up artist.

      But Nadia’s dreams were shattered as war ravaged Sinjar. Now she was simply an Isis sex slave.

    • Arrested German spy was a onetime gay porn actor — and a secret Islamist

      Two weeks ago, German intelligence agents noticed an unusual user in a chat room known as a digital hideout for Islamic militants. The man claimed to be one of them — and said he was a German spy. He was offering to help Islamists infiltrate his agency’s defenses to stage a strike.

      Agents lured him into a private chat, and he gave away so many details about the spy agency — and his own directives within it to thwart Islamists — that they quickly identified him, arresting the 51-year-old the next day. Only then would the extent of his double life become clear.

    • Reports: Islamic extremist mole found in German intel agency

      A 51-year-old German man working for the country’s domestic intelligence service is reportedly under investigation for allegedly disclosing internal information on Islamic extremist chat sites.

      Der Spiegel magazine reported Tuesday the man’s activities were detected by the intelligence agency, known as the BfV, about four weeks ago. He’s alleged to have been trying to pass on sensitive information while using a false name and also making Islamic extremist comments.

    • Law Enforcement In Ohio Apparently Unable To Sound Out Words To Motive In OSU Attack

      Islam demands the death or conversion of “the infidel,” which, no, isn’t to say that an individual Muslim necessarily practices this way.

      But the Quran is said to have been handed down from Allah to the Angel Gabriel, unlike the Bible, which was written by men. This means that the Quran is said to be unchangeable and unquestionable — including the violence-commanding verses, which “abrogate” (erase) the peaceful verses earlier in the book, from before Mohammed got power. This he did by not just starting a religion but a religion that gave his followers — basically early gang members — the go-ahead to attack and loot passing caravans and then even attack, murder, and rape people living in cities. (The men were slaughtered; the women were turned into sex slaves — as we see with the modern Yazidi women.)

      Here in America, we gave this man a home — this Somali refugee — and he repays us by trying to slaughter Americans.

    • Report: 240,000 Nigerians who fled Boko Haram still outside the country

      Nearly a quarter million Nigerians remain refugees in neighboring countries after fleeing Boko Haram, a government agency reported.

      Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said in a report that it identified 239,834 refugees — including 20,804 in Chad, 80,709 in Cameroon and 138,321 in Niger. It added that 28,951 former refugees have returned to Nigeria.

      The report also cited the humanitarian work of NEMA and the United Nations in bringing relief aid to the displaced Nigerians, the Nigerian newspaper Vanguard reported Tuesday.

    • Was Brussels terror suspect radicalized in Sweden?

      A former Stockholm resident suspected of involvement in the recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels also had links with an extreme Islamist network in the Scandinavian country, SVT’s Uppdrag granskning program reports.

      Mohamed Belkaid was killed during a police raid in Brussels on March 15th. Belgian investigators believe he played a role in the November 13th, 2015 massacres in Paris, as well as organizing the subsequent attack in Brussels, though he was killed before the bombings in the Belgian capital took place.

      The Algerian lived in Sweden between 2009 and 2013. In 2014, he travelled to Syria and signed up for Isis suicide missions, according to leaked records of people who signed up to the terrorist organization between 2013 and 2014 which Uppdrag granskning examined.

    • Suspect Identified in Ohio State Attack as Abdul Razak Ali Artan

      An Ohio State University student posted a rant shortly before he plowed a car into a campus crowd and stabbed people with a butcher knife in an ambush that ended when a police officer shot him dead, a law enforcement official said.

      Abdul Razak Ali Artan, 18, wrote on what appears to be his Facebook page that he had reached a “boiling point,” made a reference to “lone wolf attacks” and cited radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

      “America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially Muslim Ummah [community]. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that,” the post said.

    • Trump Could Pump Tens of Billions Into the Army, Only to Make It Worse

      President-elect Donald Trump wants a much bigger and more powerful US military. More Navy ships. More Air Force fighter planes. And a much bigger Army with tens of thousands of additional soldiers.

      But Trump and his administration should be careful. Lavishing the Army with money might result in a bigger Army, but it won’t necessarily result in a better Army. America’s ground-combat branch has a reputation for dramatically squandering huge cash windfalls.

      Trump hasn’t detailed exactly how he’ll grow the military—or how much it might cost. But outside experts estimate Trump’s Pentagon could cost US taxpayers an additional $900 billion over 10 years compared to President Barack Obama’s current spending plan.

    • Trump is considering a secretary of state with a much worse scandal than Clinton’s emails

      Yesterday, former CIA Director David Petraeus journeyed to Trump Tower, reportedly making an audition for the post. The visit brought to mind the scandal Petraeus has become known for, and invited parallels to Clinton’s misuse of classified information. But Petraeus’ incident, as far as it can be compared, was deemed far more severe by investigators.

      In 2012, Petraeus resigned as CIA Director, and it was later revealed he had provided classified information to his biographer and mistress, Paula Broadwell. Petraeus eventually admitted to providing information from “black books,” which included covert officers’ identities, intelligence capabilities, and notes on meetings with President Obama.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Shrinking glaciers cause state-of-emergency drought in Bolivia

      The government of Bolivia, a landlocked country in the heart of South America, has been forced to declare a state of emergency as it faces its worst drought for at least 25 years.

      Much of the water supply to La Paz, the highest capital city in the world, and the neighbouring El Alto, Bolivia’s second largest city, comes from the glaciers in the surrounding Andean mountains.

      But the glaciers are now shrinking rapidly, illustrating how climate change is already affecting one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

      The three main dams that supply La Paz and El Alto are no longer fed by runoff from glaciers and have almost run dry. Water rationing has been introduced in La Paz, and the poor of El Alto – where many are not yet even connected to the mains water supply – have staged protests.

    • Neil Young, Daryl Hannah Pen Message to Standing Rock Protestors

      Young and Hannah’s Facebook statement comes after police fired rubber bullets and water cannons at protestors at the site of proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, an altercation that sent nearly 20 protestors to the hospital.

      “We are calling upon you, President Barack Obama, to step in and end the violence against the peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock immediately,” the duo wrote.

      “Your growing activism in support of freedom over repression, addressing climate change, swiftly replacing a destructive old industries with safe, regenerative energy, encouraging wholistic thinking in balance with the future of our planet; that activism will strengthen and shed continued light on us all. These worthy goals must be met for the all the world’s children and theirs after them. This is our moment for truth.”

    • NYTimes: Veterans to Serve as ‘Human Shields’ for Dakota Pipeline Protesters

      As many as 2,000 veterans planned to gather next week at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to serve as “human shields” for protesters who have for months clashed with the police over the construction of an oil pipeline, organizers said.

  • Finance

    • GoPro Slashes 15% of Workforce, Shuts Down Entertainment Division [Ed: Microsoft engaged in blackmail and extortion with patents against them this year]

      GoPro announced that it will lay off more than 200 employees and freeze hiring, amounting to a reduction of about 15% of its workforce, and as part of the restructuring is shutting down its entertainment division. In addition, the company said president Tony Bates will be leaving the company.

    • Ericsson confirms close of production in Boras, Kumla [Ed: Well, the company is a patent troll now. Avoid it.]

      Says as previously announced, Ericsson will make significant reductions in its operations in Boras and Kumla

    • Ericsson denies systematic bribery allegations

      Following the broadcast of a radio documentary on Swedish Radio on November 23, telecommunications and networking equipment supplier Ericsson has issued a statement saying that is disagrees with claims made in the media that Ericsson has used bribes deliberately and systematically.

    • Trump is apparently still terrified about financial conflicts so now he’s tweeting about flag-burning and CNN

      Last weekend, the New York Times published an outstanding, meticulously reported investigative story about Trump’s financial conflicts of interest — the sorts of things that could lead to forced divestiture, impeachment, or worse, triggering a tweetstorm from the president-elect about an imaginary, millions-strong cohort of fraudulent voters.

      However, the story about Trump’s conflicts is still in the news — it refuses to die the way that Trump’s $25,000,000 fraud settlement did — so Trump is scraping the barrel for new things to distract the press with.

      One of those subjects is flag-burning, a form of political speech twice deemed constitutionally protected by the Supreme Court (Trump says it isn’t, that people should be imprisoned and stripped of citizenship for participating in). Trump will get to appoint between one and three Supreme Court justices, and he says he’ll opt for a “strict constitutionalist” meaning that his court will uphold the First Amendment protections for flag-burners, so this isn’t a story.

    • A disappointing TTIP human rights assessment

      ECORYS published a final draft human rights assessment of the trade agreement with the US (TTIP). The official name is a Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment (TSIA). I provided feedback on an earlier draft, see here. In my opinion, the final draft is disappointing. I will give two examples.

    • EU Executive to step up efforts to set up international investment dispute settlement system

      EU Executive to step up efforts to set up international investment dispute settlement system

      The European Commission wants to give a strong push within the EU and around the globe for the establishment of a multilateral investment dispute settlement system to replace the controversial ad-hoc arbitration known as the investor to state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. The aim is to set it up as soon as possible even with a small number of countries but with a “dock-in” system for others to join at the later stage.

    • Hundreds Of Civil Society Groups Urge RCEP Negotiators To Reject Imported TPP Clauses

      As 16 Asia and Pacific nations prepare to meet in Indonesia next week for the next round of negotiations for a large regional trade agreement called RCEP, more than 300 civil society groups signed a letter urging negotiators to reject efforts to bring in texts from the separate Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

      The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiation includes the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

    • Goldman shares hit highest level since financial crisis in post-election rally [Ed: Billionaires love having an oligarch who loves them too in the White House]
  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • 5 Signs Donald Trump Is Going To Hate The Next Four Years

      Holy shit you guys, Trump is going to be president. That’s bonkers. Like, I know you’re probably sick of hearing this every week on Cracked, but … Donald Trump is going to be the next president. Our president-elect is a spray-tanned reality TV star celebrated by actual white supremacists and terrorists. That is hilarious on paper, but deeply unsettling in reality … like Muppet rabies, or a wizard masturbating.

      But at least there’s a small silver lining, and it’s that, while the American people certainly don’t want Donald Trump to be president … Donald Trump doesn’t want to be president either. At least, not when the full weight of the job finally hits him, and it becomes chillingly clear that he is in way over his head in every conceivable way. Imagine how he’s going to feel when he realizes …


      I hate to break this to you, future-President Trump (we both know you read all my work), but even popular presidents get booed a whole lot. Obama was a brainy personified bear hug of a man, and even he got 30 death threats a day. Because no matter your charm, there is always going to be a large group of people getting triple-screwed by the system. And policies and party completely aside, Donald Trump has no charm. In fact, Donald J. Trump has all the social and sexual appeal of a maternity ward fire. He’ll be the first president with less charisma than the foam puppet version Gwar slaughters on stage.

    • Trump: The Choice We Face

      With the election of Donald Trump—a candidate who has lied his way into power, openly embraced racist discourse and violence, toyed with the idea of jailing his opponents, boasted of his assaults on women and his avoidance of taxes, and denigrated the traditional checks and balances of government—this question has confronted us as urgently as ever. After I wrote a piece about surviving autocracy, a great many people have asked me about one of my proposed rules: “Do not compromise.” What constitutes compromise? How is it possible to avoid it? Why should one not compromise?

      When I wrote about my great-grandfather in a book many years ago, I included the requisite discussion of Hannah Arendt’s opinion on the Jewish councils in Nazi-occupied Europe, which she called “undoubtedly the darkest chapter of the whole dark story” of the Holocaust. In her book Eichmann in Jerusalem she asserted that without Jewish cooperation Germany would have been unable to round up and kill as many Jews as it did. I quoted equally from the most comprehensive response to Arendt’s characterization of the Judenrat, Isaiah Trunk’s book Judenrat, in which he described the councils as complicated and contradictory organizations, ones that had functioned differently in different ghettos, and ultimately concluded that they had no effect on the final scope of the catastrophe.

    • The No-BS Inside Guide to the Presidential Vote Recount

      There’s been so much complete nonsense since I first broke the news that the Green Party would file for a recount of the presidential vote, I am compelled to write a short guide to flush out the BS and get to just the facts, ma’am.

    • Jill Stein: Recounts are Necessary Because Electronic Voting Invites Tampering, Hacking, Human Error

      Former presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein is continuing her efforts to force recounts in three states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. But on Tuesday the effort faced a setback as a Wisconsin judge refused to order a statewide hand recount. Instead, the judge ruled that each of the state’s 72 county clerks can decide on their own how to carry out the recount. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin by less than 30,000 votes out of 2.8 million cast. The result was even closer in Michigan, where Trump won by just 12,000 votes. Stein is expected to file paperwork in Michigan by today’s deadline to request a recount there. More than 130,000 people have donated more than $6.5 million Stein’s efforts—that’s nearly double how much Stein raised during her presidential effort. We speak to Jill Stein.

    • Trump taps ex-Goldman banker Mnuchin for Treasury post

      President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker who profited from the housing meltdown, as his Treasury secretary, according to an official briefed on the decision.

      Mnuchin’s career has been full of contradictions. He started as a Wall Street insider working for old-line firms before running a series of eclectic businesses — including his own hedge fund and a West Coast consumer bank. In recent years, he has been a Hollywood movie producer.

    • Electoral College voters form group to block Trump presidency

      Electoral College voters based in Colorado have formed a political non-profit to block Donald Trump from the presidency.

      According to The Denver Post, Michael Baca, a Democratic elector, filed paperwork Tuesday with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office to create the “Hamilton Electors,” a group able to fundraise unlimited donations from individuals, corporations and labor unions for political reasons.

      The goal of the group is to convince Republican and Democratic Electoral College voters to unify behind a Republican alternative for President or force an Electoral College deadlock.

      “I was opposed, actually, to raising money because I would prefer to just have this done organically,” Baca told The Denver Post. “But we’ve had people throwing money at us through our website.”

    • Forget Jill Stein’s recount! It’s yet another distraction from the deep structural problems that led to President Donald Trump

      One thing I’ve learned from my infrequent forays into legal gambling is that no matter how rational a person might imagine herself to be, it’s damn near impossible not to fall into superstitious behaviors when you belly up to a craps table.

      You have no control over the dice. You know you have no control over the dice. But in your desperation to win, you start crossing your fingers, kissing the dice or doing other little rituals meant to exert some kind of imaginary control over those tumbling bones, to deceive yourself into thinking that you can escape the heartless mathematical probabilities that say there’s a 1 in 6 chance your roll will be a 7.

    • Why I Support An Election Audit, Even Though It’s Unlikely To Change The Outcome

      Here at FiveThirtyEight, we’ve been skeptical of claims of irregularities in the presidential election. As we pointed out last week, there are no obvious statistical anomalies in the results in swing states based on the type of voting technology that each county employed. Instead, demographic differences, particularly the education levels of voters, explain the shifts in the vote between 2012 and 2016 fairly well.

      But that doesn’t mean I take some sort of philosophical stance against a recount or an audit of elections returns, or that other people at FiveThirtyEight do. Such efforts might make sense, with a couple of provisos.

      The first proviso: Let’s not call it a “recount,” because that’s not really what it is. It’s not as though merely counting the ballots a second or third time is likely to change the results enough to overturn the outcome in three states. An apparent win by a few dozen or a few hundred votes might be reversed by an ordinary recount. But Donald Trump’s margins, as of this writing, are roughly 11,000 votes in Michigan, 23,000 votes in Wisconsin and 68,000 votes in Pennsylvania. There’s no precedent for a recount overturning margins like those or anything close to them. Instead, the question is whether there was a massive, systematic effort to manipulate the results of the election.

    • Security experts join Jill Stein’s ‘election changing’ recount campaign

      More election security experts have joined Jill Stein’s campaign to review the presidential vote in battleground states won by Donald Trump, as she sues Wisconsin to secure a full recount by hand of all its 3m ballots.

      Half a dozen academics and other specialists on Monday submitted new testimony supporting a lawsuit from Stein against Wisconsin authorities, in which she asked a court to prevent county officials from carrying out their recounts by machine.

    • Why is Jill Stein pushing for recounts, again?

      Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein of Lexington has agreed to pay millions for Wisconsin officials to begin recounting ballots, filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania, and indicated she will file for a recount in Michigan (the deadline is Wednesday).

      But why? There’s understandably a lot of confusion over Stein’s intentions for these costly legal proceedings, and both Democrats and Republicans are rolling their eyes at her efforts, which they view as a waste of time.

    • Trump’s team of gazillionaires

      Beyond Trump himself, who claims a net worth of more than $10 billion, the president-elect has tapped businesswoman Betsy DeVos, whose family is worth $5.1 billion, and is said to be considering oil mogul Harold Hamm ($15.3 billion), investor Wilbur Ross ($2.9 billion), private equity investor Mitt Romney ($250 million at last count), hedge fund magnate Steven Mnuchin (at least $46 million) and super-lawyer Rudy Giuliani (estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars) to round out his administration. And Trump’s likely choice for deputy commerce secretary, Todd Ricketts, comes from the billionaire family that owns the Chicago Cubs.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Jeremy Hunt is being accused of censorship over his plan to ban teen sexting

      British health secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for social media companies and messaging apps to ban teen sexting — prompting fury and ridicule from activists and internet users.

      “I just ask myself the simple question as to why it is that you can’t prevent the texting of sexually explicit images by people under the age of 18,” Hunt told a Commons health committee. “Because there is technology that can identify sexually explicit pictures and prevent it being transmitted.”

    • No Jeremy Hunt, you can’t use tech to ban sexting for the under-18s

      Cyberbullying, sexting and all other aspects of online life that cause teenagers misery may seem pretty complex and intractable problems. But not for Jeremy Hunt. Somehow, when not dealing with despairing junior doctors, he’s found the time to devise a simple solution to end them all.

      In case you’ve missed it, the health secretary’s big idea to tackle the – very real – problems of sexting and cyberbullying is to call on social media and tech companies to ban them.

    • Mossberg: Facebook can and should wipe out fake news [Ed: Well, who defines “fake”? Another censorship pretext. Like “hate”. Satire banned too?

      Totally false news isn’t a new thing in the United States. In our fourth presidential election, in 1800, two of our most brilliant founders — John Adams and Thomas Jefferson — faced off in a vicious campaign that involved newspaper editors on the take, and numerous false, often personal attacks. Some historians even claim that partisans for Adams spread the rumor that Jefferson was dead. (He won anyway.)

      But they didn’t have Facebook to present, amplify, and repeat those falsehoods instantly to millions of people. And that’s why the fake news problem is so serious, even outside the context of a presidential election.

    • WeChat Censoring User Messages Even Outside China, Study Says

      Users of the WeChat instant-messaging platform can have their content censored even if they leave China or switch to an overseas phone number, according to a research group.

      WeChat accounts registered with a mainland China-based phone number have keywords filtered out or messages blocked anywhere in the world as long they keep the same user name, according to a study by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab. Accounts created abroad, such as through carriers in Hong Kong or the U.S., don’t face the same restrictions, it said.

      “The idea that you can’t escape a censorship system imposed on you at the time of registration is a troubling one,” said Jason Q. Ng, a research fellow at the Citizen Lab.

    • Universities Strive for Diversity in Everything but Opinion

      My seminar students at McGill University told me that you can’t say anything at this university without being accused of being sexist, homophobic, Islamophobic, fascist, or racist, and then being threatened with punitive measures. They felt silenced by the oppressive atmosphere of political correctness. Nothing significant – sex, religion, relationships, public policy, race, immigration, or multiculturalism – could be discussed. Only the acceptable opinions could be expressed without nasty repercussions.

      It is generally held today in the West, if not elsewhere, that diversity is a good thing. Diversity in origin, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual preference is now regarded as not only desirable, but mandatory. Universities strive to increase their physical diversity. The currently accepted theory in Western academia is that physical diversity reflects diversity of experience and thus an enriching diversity of viewpoint.

      McGill’s committee on diversity proposed that we no longer define excellence as intellectual achievement, but as diversity. Their view is that a university populated by folks of different colours or having different sexual preferences is by virtue of this diversity “excellent.”

    • Russia Turns to China for Help Building Its Own “Great Firewall” of Censorship

      Russia wants to step up its ability to censor the Internet, and it’s turning to China for help.

      China’s “Great Firewall” is the envy of the Putin regime, which has long feared that the rise of online political activism could loosen its grip on power. The government has spent years building a system for filtering the country’s Internet—but it is incomplete, and many U.S.-based Internet companies have thumbed their nose at the Kremlin’s rules.

      That’s now changing. In June, the Russian government passed a series of measures known as Yarovaya’s laws that require local telecom companies to store all users’ data for six months, and hang on to metadata for three years. And if the authorities ask, companies must provide keys to unlock encrypted communications. Human rights watchdog groups were aghast at the measure. Edward Snowden, who is holed up in Russia, called the package the “Big Brother law.”

    • Archive.org Moving To Canada Over Trump Censorship Fears

      The data isn’t in yet on whether Americans are packing for Canada in droves following Donald Trump’s electoral win, but a digital copy of the history of the Internet is going to make the move north.

      Archive.org, a digital library that caches and indexes older versions of websites for the historical record, says it’s creating a backup copy of its collection that it will keep on servers in Canada.

      “We are building the Internet Archive of Canada because, to quote our friends at LOCKSS, ‘lots of copies keep stuff safe’,” Archive.org said in a blog post published Tuesday.

    • Entire internet to be backed up in Canada over fears of Trump censorship
    • The Internet Archive is building a Canadian copy to protect itself from Trump
    • The Entire Internet Will Be Archived In Canada to Protect It From Trump
  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • NSA and FBI Believe They Will Gain More Surveillance Power Under Trump

      Expanded surveillance power will likely be given to the FBI, NSA and CIA under President-elect Donald Trump. The Republican-controlled Congress will help this happen and privacy advocates have already started creating an opposition.

    • FBI, NSA, CIA Poised to Gain increased Surveillance Powers Under Trump

      The FBI, National Security Agency and CIA are likely to gain expanded surveillance powers under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, a prospect that has privacy advocates and some lawmakers trying to mobilize opposition.

      Trump’s first two choices to head law enforcement and intelligence agencies — Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo for director of the Central Intelligence Agency — are leading advocates for domestic government spying at levels not seen since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    • The ‘snooper’s charter’ is a threat to academic freedom

      The UK Investigatory Powers Bill has passed into law. This bill legalises a variety of tools for intercepting and hacking by security services and was waved through without complaint by both houses. Academics should be concerned – and engage in some serious discussion about the (mis-)use of technological advances.

    • IRS Casts Unusually Wide Net for Bitcoin User Data

      A request by the IRS for user data from a bitcoin exchange highlights simmering tensions between compliance and customer privacy for financial institutions and will test how those demands are balanced in the young field of cryptocurrency.

      Under a procedure called a John Doe summons, the IRS this month asked a federal court in California to approve its request for Coinbase to turn over records on any user who had made digital currency transactions between 2013 and 2015.

      At issue is the indiscriminate nature of the request. Coinbase has accumulated nearly 5 million users, according to its website – which could mean the company might be forced to turn over financial records on millions of U.S. taxpayers.

    • ‘Snooper’s charter’ bill becomes law, extending UK state surveillance

      The “snooper’s charter” bill extending the reach of state surveillance in Britain was given royal assent and became law on Tuesday as signatures on a petition calling for it to be repealed passed the 130,000 mark.

      The home secretary, Amber Rudd, hailed the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 as “world-leading legislation” that provided “unprecedented transparency and substantial privacy protection”.

      But privacy campaigners claimed that it would provide an international standard to authoritarian regimes around the world to justify their own intrusive surveillance powers.

    • FBI to gain expanded hacking powers as Senate effort to block fails

      A last-ditch effort in the Senate to block or delay rule changes that would expand the U.S. government’s hacking powers failed Wednesday, despite concerns the changes would jeopardize the privacy rights of innocent Americans and risk possible abuse by the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

      Democratic Senator Ron Wyden attempted three times to delay the changes, which will take effect on Thursday and allow U.S. judges will be able to issue search warrants that give the FBI the authority to remotely access computers in any jurisdiction, potentially even overseas. His efforts were blocked by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican.

      The changes will allow judges to issue warrants in cases when a suspect uses anonymizing technology to conceal the location of his or her computer or for an investigation into a network of hacked or infected computers, such as a botnet.

    • U.S. border agents stopped journalist from entry and took his phones

      Award-winning Canadian photojournalist Ed Ou has had plenty of scary border experiences while reporting from the Middle East for the past decade. But his most disturbing encounter was with U.S. Customs and Border Protection last month, he said.

      On Oct. 1, customs agents detained Ou for more than six hours and briefly confiscated his mobile phones and other reporting materials before denying him entry to the United States, according to Ou. He was on his way to cover the protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline on behalf of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation.

      If Ou had already been inside the U.S. border, law enforcement officers would have needed a warrant to search his smartphones to comply with a 2014 Supreme Court ruling. But the journalist learned the hard way that the same rules don’t apply at the border, where the government claims the right to search electronic devices without a warrant or any suspicion of wrongdoing.

    • Facebook has cut off Prisma’s Live Video access

      Style transfer startup Prisma added support to its iOS app for livestreaming its art filter effects in real-time via Facebook Live earlier this month — but almost immediately the startup’s access to the Live API was cut off by the social media platform giant.

    • Facebook Cuts Off Competitor Prisma’s API Access

      Photo-filter app Prisma, the popular program which makes pictures and video look like painterly art, had its access to Facebook’s Live Video API revoked this month, TechCrunch reports.

      According to Prisma, Facebook justified choking off Prisma’s access by stating, “Your app streams video from a mobile device camera, which can already be done through the Facebook app. The Live Video API is meant to let people publish live video content from other sources such as professional cameras, multi-camera setups, games or screencasts.”

    • China Turns Big Data into Big Brother

      That’s a reimagining of the introduction to George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. But it’s also set to become a reality for citizens of China if the government’s dream of an authoritarian big-data scheme comes to fruition.

      The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chinese government is now testing systems that will be used to create digital records of citizens’ social and financial behavior. In turn, these will be used to create a so-called social credit score, which will determine whether individuals have access to services, from travel and education to loans and insurance cover. Some citizens—such as lawyers and journalists—will be more closely monitored.

      Planning documents apparently describe the system as being created to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” The Journal claims that the system will at first log “infractions such as fare cheating, jaywalking and violating family-planning rules” but will be expanded in the future—potentially even to Internet activity.

    • Intelligence experts urge Obama to end Edward Snowden’s ‘untenable exile’

      Fifteen former staff members of the Church committee, the 1970s congressional investigation into illegal activity by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, have written jointly to Obama calling on him to end Snowden’s “untenable exile in Russia, which benefits nobody”. Over eight pages of tightly worded argument, they remind the president of the positive debate that Snowden’s disclosures sparked – prompting one of the few examples of truly bipartisan legislative change in recent years.

      They also remind Obama of the long record of leniency that has been shown by his own and previous administrations towards those who have broken secrecy laws. They even recall how their own Church committee revealed that six US presidents, from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon, were guilty of abusing secret powers.

    • Uber wants more user data

      The most recent update to Uber’s ride-hailing app allows the platform to track user location data even while the app isn’t in use, according to TechCrunch.

      Earlier versions of the app only tracked user data while the app was running, however, the update requests users’ permission to keep location sharing always on. Uber plans to use the data gained to improve the user experience, like by offering more accurate pick-up times and locations.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • How Stable Are Democracies? ‘Warning Signs Are Flashing Red’

      Yascha Mounk is used to being the most pessimistic person in the room. Mr. Mounk, a lecturer in government at Harvard, has spent the past few years challenging one of the bedrock assumptions of Western politics: that once a country becomes a liberal democracy, it will stay that way.

      His research suggests something quite different: that liberal democracies around the world may be at serious risk of decline.

      Mr. Mounk’s interest in the topic began rather unusually. In 2014, he published a book, “Stranger in My Own Country.” It started as a memoir of his experiences growing up as a Jew in Germany, but became a broader investigation of how contemporary European nations were struggling to construct new, multicultural national identities.

      He concluded that the effort was not going very well. A populist backlash was rising. But was that just a new kind of politics, or a symptom of something deeper?

    • Opinion: National Anthem in cinema halls may go against the very idea of why Supreme Court made it compulsory

      The Supreme Court on Wednesday made playing the national anthem in cinema theatres before the commencement of a film mandatory. The judgement, delivered by a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra underlined that the measure would ‘instil a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism’ in citizens. The root of the new compulsion is instilling a sense of national identity, integrity and constitutional patriotism.

      The top court has, however, made it very clear that the national anthem could not be commercially exploited and that no entity could either dramatise it or use it in abridged form. The national anthem is to be played along with the image of the tricolour and people must stand up in respect. A clarification was inserted here providing an exception for the disabled.

    • Play national anthem in all cinemas before film screening: Supreme Court

      “People now-a-days don’t know how to sing national anthem and people must be taught. We must respect national anthem,” the top court said.

    • UN Panel: WikiLeaks’ Assange a Victim of Arbitrary Detention

      A U.N. panel is sticking by its opinion that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a victim of arbitrary detention, rejecting a request by Britain to review the case.

      The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Britain had not presented enough new information to merit a new examination. The panel made the decision at a meeting last week, the U.N. human rights office said Wednesday.

      In February, the panel found that Britain and Sweden had “arbitrarily detained” Assange, saying he should be freed and entitled to compensation.

    • Julian Assange pleads to be ‘set free’ after UN panel ruling

      A statement on behalf of WikiLeaks said the original decision now stands and the UK and Sweden are once again required to “immediately put an end to Mr Assange’s arbitrary detention and afford him monetary compensation”.

      It continued: “Earlier this year the United Nations concluded the 16 month long case to which the UK was a party.

      “The UK lost, appealed, and today – lost again. The UN instructed the UK and Sweden to take immediate steps to ensure Mr Assange’s liberty, protection, and enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

      “No steps have been taken, jeopardising Mr Assange’s life, health and physical integrity, and undermining the UN system of human rights protection.

    • UN panel rebuffs Britain over Assange ruling

      Swedish prosecutors dropped a sexual assault probe into Assange last year after the five-year statute of limitations expired. But they still want to question him about the 2010 rape allegation, which carries a 10-year statute of limitations.

      Assange insists the sexual encounters in question were consensual.

    • Julian Assange: Ecuador says no ‘quick way out’ of embassy impasse

      The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has no “quick way out” of the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he took refuge more than four years ago, Ecuador’s prosecutor has said.

      An Ecuadorean state attorney accompanied by a Swedish prosecutor questioned Assange at the embassy on 14 November over allegations that he committed rape in Sweden in 2010.

      Ecuador’s prosecutor, Galo Chiriboga, said Ecuadorean officials would send the official transcript of Assange’s evidence to Swedish authorities “in mid-December”.

      Assange, who is Australian, has said he fears deportation to Sweden and the United States, where he could be charged for the publication of hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables.

    • Watergate-Era Church Committee Staffers Urge Leniency for Snowden

      Fifteen staff members who worked on a well-known bipartisan intelligence watchdog committee wrote to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday requesting the administration negotiate a plea agreement with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

      “There is no question that Edward Snowden’s disclosures led to public awareness which stimulated reform,” wrote the staffers who served on the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operation with Respect to Intelligence Activities — called the Church Committee, after its chairman, Idaho Sen. Frank Church.

    • Michigan considered a ‘border zone,’ citizens subject to search, detention, ACLU says

      The ACLU says immigration officials conduct warrantless vehicle searches and detentions in Michigan because the state, surrounded by the Great Lakes, is considered a border zone.

      Federal law gives U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, “extraordinary powers” to search vehicles and detain people who are within a “reasonable distance” of the border, the American Civil Liberties Union said.

      CBP has set the “reasonable distance” at 100 miles, which makes the state the “functional equivalent” of an international border, the ACLU said.

      Customs and Border Protection and Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

    • Burka ban backed by Dutch MPs for public places

      Dutch MPs have backed a ban on the Islamic full veil in some public places such as schools and hospitals, and on public transport.

      The niqab face veil and the burka, which covers the eyes, are included in the ban along with other face coverings such as ski-masks and helmets.

      The Dutch Senate must approve the bill, which has government backing, for it to become law.

      Supporters of the ban say people should be identifiable in public places.

      Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s ruling Liberal-Labour coalition described the bill as “religious-neutral”.

    • Labor abuses rife on Indonesia’s palm oil plantations – Amnesty

      Children as young as eight are working at plantations that supply palm oil to some of the world’s biggest brands, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

      Amnesty’s investigation into plantations in Indonesia also found workers performing dangerous tasks without adequate protection. Others were paid less than the legal minimum wage or exposed to dangerous chemicals.

      The rights advocacy group said it interviewed 120 workers, including supervisors, on Indonesian plantations that supply or are owned by Singapore-based Wilmar (WLMIF), the world’s largest palm oil producer.

    • Malaysia PM Najib Razak expresses support for strict Islamic laws to empower Sharia courts

      Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is facing a backlash over his alleged involvement in a multi-billion dollar scandal, has expressed his support for strict Islamic laws in the country in a bid to woo Malay Muslims.

      Malaysians are reported to be frustrated over corruption and the country’s economy ahead of next year’s election. Najib has fended off calls to quit over the last 18 months over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal that drew widespread anger of Malaysians, including members of the ruling United Malay National Organisation (UMNO).

      Razak called on ethnic Malay Muslims to extend their support to a plan by the rival pan-Malaysian Islamic Party and push for the adoption of an Islamic penal code, called hudud. It is believed to be an Islamic concept that sets out punishment under Sharia law and includes amputations and public stoning.

      “We want to develop Islam,” Najib was quoted as saying by Reuters on Tuesday (29 November). “Non-Muslims must understand that this is not about hudud but about empowering the Sharia courts.”

    • ‘Bogus charges’: Standing Rock activists say they face campaign of legal bullying

      In what appears to be a concerted effort to deter people from joining the Standing Rock protests, North Dakota officials are pursuing serious criminal charges and threatening to levy hefty fines against Native American activists.

      Despite state and federal evacuation orders, a government roadblock, escalating police violence and aggressive prosecutions that attorneys say lack basic evidence, thousands of veterans are preparing to travel to Cannon Ball this weekend to support the growing movement to stop the Dakota Access pipeline.

      Since the demonstrations against the $3.7bn oil project began in April, law enforcement have made more than 500 arrests, with state prosecutors filing serious charges, including rioting and conspiracy, against many of them.

    • German police betrayed by justice system – union chief on ‘Sharia patrol’ ruling

      The head of a major German police union has lashed out at the country’s “failed” justice system, following a number of controversial court rulings. The most recent case involved a ‘Sharia police’ group operating in a suburban town, which was deemed legal.

      “The full force of the law these days often means we determine the identities of offenders, but the judges just let them go free,” Rainer Wendt, head of the German Police Union (DPolG), told the Passauer Neue Presse (PNP) newspaper on Wednesday.

      The official spoke about the recent incident involving the German court system, when a group of Islamists was cleared of charges for forming a ‘Sharia police force,’ a volunteer initiative to patrol the streets and uphold peace in the western German town of Wuppertal in 2014.

      The town is one of Germany’s most popular destinations for Salafists, who follow a very conservative interpretation of Islam and reject any form of democracy.

    • How Cops Use Civil Forfeiture to Keep The Public In The Dark About Surveillance

      Police across Canada are using civil forfeiture laws to seize everything from houses and cars to small amounts of cash from people who sometimes haven’t been convicted of a crime. Some of this money is paying for cutting-edge surveillance equipment, a practice that critics say keeps the public in the dark about police capabilities.

      “We are very suspect about what is being purchased [with forfeiture funds],” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association, in an interview. “We have very little public insight into the kinds of equipment that police are using.”

    • Students get 100 lashes for sex outside marriage in Indonesia

      Nineteen-year-old Indonesian students who received 100 lashes were among a group of people flogged in the conservative province of Aceh, which adheres to Sharia law.

      A total of five people, including two women and three men, were caned outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda Aceh on Monday, according to AFP.

      The 34-year-old woman was flogged with a rattan cane at least seven times for being in close proximity to a man. The 32-year-old male who was with her was also flogged seven times.

      “It hurts so bad,” the woman said, as cited by AFP, raising her arms into the air.

      Among the others who were flogged on Monday were two university students, both 19, who confessed to having sex outside marriage. They received 100 lashes.

      A man found guilty of sex outside marriage was also flogged at least 22 times by the person delivering the punishment, who was dressed in long robes and a hood. His partner, who is two-months pregnant, is still waiting for her fate to be decided.

      In such situations, officials in the province usually order the flogging of women after they give birth.

    • The Government Is Using a No Fly Zone to Suppress Journalism At Standing Rock

      In recent weeks, videos shot by Native American drone pilots have shown percussion grenades launched from an armored vehicle deep into a crowd of people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. They have shown people being knocked backward with a constant barrage of water being shot from fire hoses. They’ve shown a line of body armor-clad cops aiming guns at unarmed water protectors holding their hands high above their heads. Another video, shot at night, shows that construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline continues under the cover of darkness.

      In recent weeks, Dakota Access Pipeline protesters have been tear gassed, sprayed with water cannons in freezing temperatures, and shot with rubber bullets by a police force using military-style vehicles and violent riot suppression tactics. Every suppression apparatus the government has at its disposal has been used—even the National Guard has been called in.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • Dropbox CEO urges Donald Trump to protect net neutrality

      DROPBOX CEO Drew Houston has said that he hopes president-elect Donald Trump will respect the rights of all workers in the country and won’t ditch net neutrality legislation, but admitted nothing is clear for now.

      When quizzed on Trump by INQ at a roundtable event in London, Houston said that it is too soon to tell if Trump will adopt the positions he used to gain election.

      “It’s pretty wild times […] I think a lot of us are sort of waiting to see what actually happens. I mean there’s a lot of speculation about what from a policy standpoint is going to change, or not change,” he said.

    • Trump Appoints Third Net Neutrality Critic to FCC Advisory Team

      President-elect Trump today added yet another fierce critic of net neutrality to his FCC transition team. The incoming President chose Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at the broadband-industry-funded American Enterprise Institute, to help select the new FCC boss and guide the Trump administration on telecom policy. Layton joins Jeffrey Eisenach, a former Verizon consultant and vocal net neutrality critic, and Mark Jamison, a former Sprint lobbyist that has also fought tooth and nail against net neutrality; recently going so far as to argue he doesn’t think telecom monopolies exist.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Report: IP, Access To Science A Troubled Relationship

      A new academic report looks into the relationship between intellectual property and access to science and culture, in the wake of work on the issue by former United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Farida Shaheed. Contributors to the report aimed at reflecting on how the intellectual property system can foster economic growth while encouraging non-economic values and objectives of human development.

    • New Draft Articles For The Protection Of Traditional Knowledge On Table At WIPO

      New draft articles published this morning at the World Intellectual Property Organization committee on traditional knowledge show signs of progress in terms of reducing options. Meanwhile, the United States introduced a proposal for a discussion of what should be protectable and what is not intended to be protected. Delegates have to deliver their take on both documents this afternoon.

    • Copyrights

      • Antigua & Barbuda Threatens to Punish U.S. With Piracy Free-For-All

        A long-running dispute between Antigua and Barbuda and the United States over gambling services has reached a critical point. In a letter to the WTO, the Caribbean nation warns that unless the US either stops blocking or compensates its gambling services, it will lift protection of US intellectual property rights in 2017.

      • UK ISPs to Start Sending ‘Piracy Alerts’ Soon

        Early 2017 will see the long-awaited start of a broad UK anti-piracy effort. With help from copyright holders, ISPs will send email notifications to subscribers whose connections are allegedly used to pirate content. These “alerts” will educate copyright infringers about legal alternatives in the hope of decreasing piracy rates over time.

      • Court Awards Damages Following Bogus DMCA Takedowns

        Topdawg Entertainment Inc., Interscope Records and Universal Music Group must pay damages after issuing false DMCA notices which damaged an artist’s reputation. Montreal hip hop artist Jonathan Emile teamed up with Kendrick Lamar on a track, but the labels wrongfully took it down from YouTube, iTunes and Soundcloud.

Two ILO Decisions on EPO Cases Are Released, at Least One Judgment is Considered Good for Staff

Posted in Europe, Patents at 9:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

International Labour Organisation on EPO
The famous report where ILO complained about EPO-induced workload

Summary: Years later (as justice is too slow, partly because of the EPO, being the principal culprit that clogs up the ILO’s tribunal system) there is a couple of new judgments about EPO abuses against staff

THE DECISIONS we wrote about 2 days ago were released exactly 24 hours ago. For those who haven’t been keeping track, here are the cases in question:

- Case No. 3785: Fritz No. 2 v. EPO
- Case No. 3796: Vermeulen v. EPO

“In many ways, the EPO will struggle in months to come because the ‘Battistelli era’ EPO cases are reaching to the front of the queue (or top of the pile).”Our initial reaction to the summaries was that it’s just too disappointing to even write much about. But upon further inspection, that’s not entirely the case. One reader told us, “you definitely misinterpreted the ILO-AT 3785 case outcome… [as the] 3785 judgememnt is very positive for the staff. [...] Regarding the 3796, it’s too early to give an opinion. Be patient, and wait for the experts evaluating the judgement/s.”

The initial interpretation was that the latest cases got sent back to the kangaroo court of Battistelli and his goons, following a rather disappointing pattern which we also wrote about 2 days ago (separate case and article). We welcome feedback from within the EPO or outside of it. As we noted earlier this week, we rely on people who are very familiar with these cases to explain their ramifications to us.

“The EPO reminds us of and has a lot in common with SCO.”In many ways, the EPO will struggle in months to come because the ‘Battistelli era’ EPO cases are reaching to the front of the queue (or top of the pile). The EPO reminds us of and has a lot in common with SCO. Instead of dropping a failed strategy (acknowledging that becoming a “bad boy” is bad for business), the management takes itself and the entire organisation into the ground, leading to bankruptcy at the end (after spending all the time and resources in the courtroom, not actually producing anything or attracting any clients, who growingly boycott the organisation because of its tasteless actions).

Dutch and French Politicians Complain About the European Patent Office, British Media Coverage Regular Now

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

Philip Cordery

Summary: Pressure from the political systems, the scientific community and from the media is growing, as it becomes abundantly apparent that the EPO cannot go on like this

THE European Patent Office (EPO) has already come under scrutiny from many politicians, but they are unable to do much because of the EPO’s insanely-granted (in retrospect highly irrational) immunity/impunity. Could EPO management get away with robbery, rape and murder as well? Hard to tell unless or until this happens… after 5 suicides the EPO’s management continues to deny authorities access to EPO sites (in order to properly investigate this). For all we know, EPO management can cover anything up, defame the accuser/s, and insist that it is the victim of a “campaign of defamation”. Watch in disgust and recall its appalling response to Bavarian TV coverage about one of the suicides.

Philip Cordery, a French politician who is sympathetic towards EPO staff, has just written in his blog again. To quote the French: “J’ai interrogé ce mercredi 30 novembre, lors de la traditionnelle séance de questions au gouvernement, le secrétaire d’Etat chargé de l’industrie, Christophe Sirugue, sur la situation sociale à l’Office européen des brevets.”

“Could EPO management get away with robbery, rape and murder as well?”We hope that a French-speaking reader can provide us with a reliable translation. Well, perhaps SUEPO will supply translations at some stage, but it doesn’t always happen. More French officials now speak out against the EPO’s management, including Richard Yung, who is also no beginner to this controversy. To quote Yung’s blog post: “M. Richard Yung attire l’attention de M. le ministre de l’économie et des finances sur la dégradation du climat social au sein de l’Office européen des brevets (OEB).”

This one too we could use a complete translation of. Accuracy is important as we strive to maintain a good record and poor translations have betrayed us at least once in the past.

Petra Kramer, our Dutch EPO ‘expert’ (she cares about the EPO’s situation although she does not have any connections to it), translated this new NOS article (like BBC of the Netherlands) for us. Here is a complete translation:

Van Dam: social situation European Patent Office should be better

State Secretary Van Dam wants the European Patent Office (EPO) to take concrete steps to improve the social situation. In a letter to the Lower House, he writes that a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) contains concrete leads to achieve this.

The agency has offices in several cities in Europe, including in Rijswijk. At the institute there are long-lived concerns about the working conditions and the social situation. Staff Office in Rijswijk’s took to the streets to protest several times, even last week. Even the House and the Cabinet have expressed their concerns.

Lack of trust

The EPO has called for the study partly at the insistence of the government. PWC states, several important reforms which have already been implemented, which are successful in part. Named for example, are a sharp drop in sick leave and the introduction of part-time jobs and working from home.

But the researchers are also critical about several issues. They questioned the reforms in the areas of participation and the implementation of the right to strike. They signal an “us-versus-them culture and lack of mutual trust between management and staff.”

Finger on sore spot

According to Van Dam the report puts the finger on the sore spot. The State Secretary is more concerned about the lack of internal trust and will continue to address that issue with the President of the Office.

At the EPO union members have repeatedly been fired, even recently. Van Dam writes that he can not speak about that last particular case, but he believes it is “not a healthy breeding ground for the restoration of social relations.”

Recently, the results of the PWC study were presented to 350 people involved in the EPO. Van Dam states it’s telling that the largest trade union was not invited to that meeting.

“The news is in the last sentence,” Petra Kramer noted. “SUEPO [was] not involved in PWC-study of EPO.”

“Diplomatical approach is certainly not bad,” told us an EPO insider, “however in this case totally useless. Van Dam is a way too subservient!”

Thankfully, the British press (Britain’s leading site in the area of technology) is covering the EPO scandals these days. This is the second time this week (the first one being about the UPC). Kieren McCarthy used the same game of words that we had used, revolving around the word “conCERN”. Here is the latest from McCarthy about Battisetlli’s McCarthyism and the response to it:

CERN concern: Particle boffins join backlash against Euro Patent Office’s King Battistelli

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, better known as CERN, has joined the list of organizations and media outlets calling for action against the president of the European Patent Office (EPO).

In its weekly staff bulletin, the particle physicists’ take issue with Benoit Battistelli for targeting and firing staff. “Over the past three years this organization has been under the rule of a president who imposes productivity targets which hinders the quality of the work done by the intellectual property specialists,” the bulletin notes.

It then accuses him of “degrading” the EPO with behavior “worthy of the 19th century” and endangering both the EPO itself and the European economy.

CERN is not the only organization to use such strong language. The European Public Service Union (EPSU), which represents more than eight million workers in Europe, has written [PDF] to a number of leading French, Dutch and German politicians this week asking them to “re-establish the rule of law” at the EPO citing “continuous threats to union representatives” by Battistelli, and violation of workers’ rights.

If things continue to be this bad, it’s not clear if there is any future at all for the EPO. Some believe that this plays into the hands of UPC proponents, perhaps connected to an attempt to make the EPO a more EU-connected institution, a bit like EUIPO. And speaking of EUIPO, watch the EPO sucking up to it this week [1, 2]; we remind readers that some EPO insiders believe these two institutions will one day be merged.

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