From Bad to Worse: When a Horrible Regime (EPO) Publicly Makes Itself Look Like One

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Total surveillance and stop-and-frisk-like regime, even extending to visitors


Summary: EPO becomes another North Korea and depression rates soar to the point where people take their own lives

With potential culpability for deaths of employees, Benoît Battistelli is in hot legal water, but there is nobody to actually enforce the law against him at Eponia. Recognising the agonising working conditions at the EPO, CERN recently weighed in on numerous occasions. These are world-leading scientists who blasted Battistelli and SUEPO has just published yet another letter (this time in French) from CERN.

Will CERN’s concern be enough to compel Battistelli to resign before the next death? His regime has already cost many people (and families) their lives and it cannot go on like this. Well, technically it can because Battistelli feels elated and above the law. In fact, judging by this tweet (linking to this “news” item at epo.org), the EPO is now becoming more like North Korea, with Battistelli as its “Dear Leader”. Congratulations to Battistelli for turning Europe’s finest institution into Europe’s shame and the subject of scorn from all across the world. He has killed EPO’s reputation, which took almost half a century to earn. Soon there won’t be applicants and renewals either. The EPO and its staff now live in borrowed time, exploiting what’s left of the inertia and the backlog. Mass layoffs are already a growing concern, hence job insecurity (it’s hard for former EPO staff to find a job in their discipline after a long EPO career).

“A range of measures are now being implemented to help ensure our safety,” the EPO said the other night. “Additional security measures are now in place for all visitors.”

Well, will they add safety (suicide) nets maybe? Just like in China? Would they help mask the issue?

“The safeguarding of staff, visitors and business is of paramount importance to the EPO,” the EPO wrote. Is that why EPO management drove people to suicide, having legally bullied them and did them extreme injustice? Words cannot express how disgusting that “news” item from the EPO truly is. What next? Will they build something like a Berlin wall around the Isar facilities, in order to prevent people from getting out?

Remember that the EPO does not obey the law; it doesn’t feel like it needs to, especially under Battistelli the arrogant bully with inferiority complex. Here is something which Florian Müller published yesterday, recalling his days as an activist against software patents:

In 2002, the EC proposed a “directive on the patentability of computer-implemented inventions.” It claimed back then and throughout the years of the legislative process (which ended when the bill got thrown out by the European Parliament in 2005, which is exactly what I had been campaigning for) that patents on “computer-implemented inventions” weren’t software patents. The examples that the supporters of the proposal gave all the time were about computer-controlled washing machines, automated braking systems, and airplanes. They said that the whole plan was only to ensure that innovations in those fields could be patented but software patents? No, they said that our movement was totally wrong since software “as such” was going to be excluded.

It was nothing but a damn lie. A damn lie propagated by the Commission, by the equally-mendacious national governments of the EU member states, large corporations (also including their industry bodies, of course), the European Patent Office (with respect to its credibility, let me just refer you to Dr. Roy Schestowitz’s great work concerning what is going on there), and patent attorneys in private practice.

What frustrated us the most was not even that those who directly or indirectly stood to gain from software patents were dishonest. That was very bad for sure, but the worst part was that news agencies and the general press kept propagating those lies–not merely in the form of quotes but in ways that portrayed the Commission position as the truth and our position as an opposing view by “open source” people. And when we talked to them, they often just referred us to what the European Commission was saying–no matter how much of a lie it was.


Unitary patent propaganda: first published, then taken down

Last year, the IPKat blog dismantled the Commission’s ridiculous propaganda for its unitary patent package (including the Unified Patent Court). Then the Commission pulled its statement, almost certainly due to the IPKat’s competent criticism.

The FFII’s Benjamin Henrion asked, “was it the FAQ of The EP saying unipat [UPC] is not about swpat [] https://media.ffii.org/Fosdem2016/ffii-fosdem2016-unitary-software-patents.pdf … slide 9.”

“I believe the IPKat article was about a different document but not sure,” Müller responded.

We wrote a great deal about the EPO lying regarding the UPC and also doing things that are legally dubious in order to advance the UPC. That’s part of the expected behaviour when one deals with a North Korea-inspired regime. Expect a lot of brainwash, lies, and retribution against anyone who dares even politely questioning these lies (as some SUEPO representatives occasionally did).

EPO President Benoît Battistelli “Should Be in Prison”

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benoît Battistelli prisonSummary: A roundup of takes on the latest situation at the EPO, which is disintegrating before people’s eyes because the Administrative Council cares more about “carrots” (money) from Battistelli than about justice, integrity and the long-term sustainability of the European Patent Organisation

THE EPO is a total catastrophe that only keeps getting worse over time. Somehow the German media continues to ignore all the scandals and instead just covers talking points of the EPO’s management. We could use an English translation of this article by the way, especially parts of it that add new information (if any)…

Skipping the hogwash and the nonsense that Battistelli paid for dearly (not from his own pocket but the EPO’s), let’s look at what insiders and outsiders (like attorneys around Munich) say about the latest terrible exodus, which impacts a lot of people, not just a handful.

“After all,” one person wrote in relation to a comment about Haar being unsuitable for appellants or workers with wheelchairs, “the Isartor S-Bahn station does not have a lift either!”

The original commenter (mentioned here previously) responded with “not if you want to leave the exit on the northern side, only steps there.”

“An ever so slight amount of googling,” another person wrote, “will reveal that there IS a lift at the Haar S-Bahn station. Never let truth get in the way of a good rumor/story… Anybody remember Neuperlach and oral proceedings there…? Big fuss for nothing…”

As if the main question is whether or not the Boards of Appeal will have a lift (elevator) at the building and the nearby public transportation station. What a distraction from the bigger problem.

“True gentlemen are not so easily bought,” noted one person, alluding to delegates whom Battistelli is unable to ‘buy’ (he typically targets corruptible nations whose votes are cheaper to 'buy').

Here is the full comment:

That was a “gentlemen’s agreement”.

But for such an agreement you need to have gentlemen and they seem to be in short supply in the current ranks of the AC.

True gentlemen are not so easily bought.

Here is another:

As I already posted in a comment which hasn’t appeared, that was a “gentlemen’s agreement”.

For a gentlemen’s agreement you need to have gentlemen and they now seem to be in short supply.

True gentlemen are guided by principles not expediency.

Because the 'Mafioso' in chief (or Don), Battistelli, wants nobody but himself left with any power or independence, it seems clear that there’s no room for “gentlemen” anymore. Not even an Irish judge. “We are offering a limited number of one‑month internships with our boards of appeal,” the EPO wrote today. And no full-time jobs? After years of the boards being seriously understaffed? We wrote about this before.

Therein lie the truly alarming developments. The crushing of the boards is an ongoing process and the relocation (exile) to Haar is just one among several methods, such as price hikes that discourage appeals. Battistelli’s ‘bulldog’ used similar tactics in Croatia, in order to render people whom he feared redundant and shut them out.

“Now they are complicit too,” wrote a person about nations that let Battistelli trash the boards, sending them out of Munich to unfamiliar territory and all sorts of other issues:

If the big ones complain about being outvoted by the small countries, why did neither UK, FR,… request a weighted vote?
This has a financial impact, so they have a right to request it…

Now they are complicit too. Referring to “we voted no and lost” is not sufficient anymore!

A plethora of other comments continues to appear in a month-old two-part series from Merpel, who has not mentioned the EPO since.

“Possibly they discussed it behind closed doors,” wrote another person about the suspended judge (on “house ban”). To quote:

…as far as I know, the case of the suspended BoA member was not put on the agenda (which is proposed by the President of the Office). Possibly they discussed it behind closed doors, but I assume not.

Poor guy, I’ll be very interested to see what ILO-AT has to say about this case, once it gets there….

When are decisions about Battistelli’s abuses to be made? When will they discuss him grossly defying orders? Is that off the chapters/script now? All they have accomplished is growing uncertainty for the boards.

Despicable! Since a vacuum is now (at least temporarily) left in administration of the boards we suppose Battistelli can step in and make more of a mess of them, having recently lowered (reportedly halved) the salary of the judge whom he had illegally suspended more than 2 years ago.

What about Prunier (LP), whom Battistelli fired in defiance of clear, direct orders from the Council? Battistelli gets away with everything:

to be clear : IL and LP both NEED to be funded over a long period of time since they are both affected (eg their health condition suffered and they cannot seek for work in their situation) plus they have to organise their defense which will last for years whilst keeping them busy with the EPO, before to perhaps (or not) see their dismissal revoqued and get back at their EPO desk.

According to my information they both welcome small (one-off or monthly) donations which secure their future needs and give them also what they lost : a feeling of stability and material security.

Never mind the fact that ILO recently confirmed that legal proceedings at the EPO are mock trials and have been so for years?

Kieren McCarthy, a British journalist who is becoming ever more immersed in EPO matters, wrote this morning that “States seek to limit Napoleon-like tendencies of Benoit Battistelli” (near byline) and to quote bits from his article:

In response, EPO staff again asked the Administrative Council – which is the only body that can limit the president’s powers – to take action against Battistelli. It, again, failed to do so. Not only but that it also approved the latest proposal put forward by Battistelli to move the EPO’s Boards of Appeal (BoA) away from the EPO headquarters in Munich to a new building in the outskirts of the city, and it handed Battistelli effective control of the appeals committee until June next year.

There is some consternation over the BoA move, which some see as just the latest effort by Battistelli to undermine and downplay the independent body. Regardless, the decision to move the BoA to Haar passed by 21 votes to seven, with another seven countries abstaining. Commentators have noted that the nations that voted in favor are the same ones that repeatedly block efforts to admonish or fire Battistelli. Most represent Europe’s smaller economies.


While Battistelli has the votes to continue to pass reforms that put him into a more powerful position, his self-aggrandizement and the public criticism leveled at him for waging an internal campaign against those that resist his reforms has not gone unnoticed.

In a sign that a number of powerful European states have decided that confinement of the president is the best remaining option, a key lieutenant of Battistelli, Willy Minnoye, announced after the meeting that he would be leaving his post early for “personal reasons.”

As vice president of the EPO’s general operations arm, Minnoye has repeatedly defended the disciplinary proceedings taken against five staff union members and, staff say, is representative of the bullying culture that has taken over the organization. Minnoye most famously said that the EPO would simply ignore a decision against it by the Dutch Supreme Court on whether the EPO was violating its employees’ fundamental rights in how it was conducting internal investigations.

As well as losing Minnoye, Battistelli was dealt a second political blow when Swede was elected as president of the Boards of Appeal.


Despite these small challenges to Battistelli’s authority however, it is clear despite the very public criticisms of his behavior and repeated staff protests and strikes that the EPO Administrative Council will not be taking any direct action against him.

It’s good and reassuring to see yet another confirmation that Minnoye is leaving, having infamously bragged about being above the law. This Vice-President will be remembered as a “greedy manager and a mad hatter when it comes to justice,” said the following new comment:

The VP1 is leaving the EPO in June 2017 following the New Main topping-out ceremony, no surprise at all as a site manager he knows that his production figures will be down at the moment the staff removals start. His legacy will be that of a greedy manager and a mad hatter when it comes to justice, he should leave the EPO with his head down in shame.

Looking at some comments in The Register, one person wrote: “Surely the best way to “limit the tendencies” of an unmitigated thug like Battistelli would be to sack him.

“Or do such remedial measures only apply to we peasants?”

“He [Battistelli] should be in prison,” another person replied. Well, people have been sent to prison by the millions for much lesser offences, some of which if not the majority of which victimless.

“Italy knows how to deal with Dictators,” said a third person.

“Benoit Battistelli is French hence the Napoleon reference in the article,” said a fourth person, so “we’re talking snails and frogs legs here, not pizza and spaghetti.”

A fifth person asked: “Perhaps Britain could suggest the relocation of the office of the President of the EPO to St. Helena?”

We already heard some suggestions that Britain should demand relocation of the boards to Britain, where staff’s rights might be better guarded and Britain’s participation in the EPO can grow (recruitment of Brits by the EPO is down 80%).

“This seems a bit like Sepp Blatter remaining President of Fifa,” said another person, with a mention of alleged bribes included:

This raises further questions

“the decision to move the BoA to Haar passed by 21 votes to seven, with another seven countries abstaining. Commentators have noted that the nations that voted in favor are the same ones that repeatedly block efforts to admonish or fire Battistelli. Most represent Europe’s smaller economies.”

I feel there is some comment missing in this story -

Is there any reason for smaller economies to protect Battistelli?

This seems a bit like Sepp Blatter remaining President of Fifa for so long because the smaller Fifa nations didn’t want to oust him. In that case it was because Blatter kept the gravy flowing to them.

What I can’t work out is what motivation small European economies have to keep Battistelli, this is just a Patent Office – does he provide smaller nations with something that they are worried will be stopped if he is removed?

That last question would be a rhetorical one for EPO insiders. More than once we saw how Battistelli uses EPO/EU budget as “carrots”.

One person noted that “the majority of the European countries are small countries.” The problem is that they have an equal vote; they don’t have many patents and therefore not much at stake at the EPO. Why isn’t that factor accounted for at the Council?

EPO Appeal Boards, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and Other Newsworthy Tidbits

Posted in America, Courtroom, Europe, Patents at 6:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Short roundup of news regarding patents in the United States and the process of handling them, with few comparisons to the EPO

LITIGATION with USPTO patents is down. It is down pretty sharply and this gives ample room for hope. But it does not, however, mean we should take our eyes off the ball.

Patently-O, writing in another recent post, said that “Medgraph’s claims are directed to a set of methods “for improving and facilitating diagnosis and treatment of patients.” See U.S. Patent 5,974,124 and U.S. Patent 6,122,351. The problem is that the claims require actions by both the computer system and also a patient/doctor. This claim structure directly runs headlong into traditional requirement for direct infringement of a patent – that all steps of the claim be performed-by or attributable-to a single entity.”

What’s noteworthy here is the presence of a computer system. We previously wrote about a similar case at the EPO appeal boards (computer conjoined with “medical” and “device” so as to make it look/sound non-abstract and novel). Right now in Europe it’s said to be easier to get (and defend) software patents than it is in the post-Alice US. The judge in the above case, P. Corcoran, thankfully rejected the application. No wonder Battistelli hates the appeal boards so much and strives to destroy them (while still maintaining the appearance or perception he complies with the EPC).

In other news from around the Web, there are formal/procedural changes emanating from CAFC decisions. “A recent decision from the Federal Circuit recognises a privilege between non-attorneys patent-agents and their clients under certain conditions,” says MIP. “Philippe Signore reviews the limits of this patent agent privilege, as well as those of the attorney-client privilege, within the context of the discovery phase of a US litigation,” continues the summary, but the article is behind a paywall.

“Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6 has,” according to this from Patently-O, “since it first allowed for service by electronic means [legal papers served by E-mail, as the EPO attempted to do to me], treated it like other means of service, adding 3 days to the deadline to respond (under some circumstances). It’s now been deleted from the types of service that give the extra there days.”

Writing about a CAFC case, Patently-O also mentioned that “Patent Nos. 6,107,851 and 6,249,876 were not anticipated and were directly and indirectly infringed by Fairchild and that Fairchild’s Patent No. 7,259,972 was not obvious and was infringed by Power Integrations under the doctrine of equivalents (but was not literally infringed or indirectly infringed by Power Integrations). The jury also found Power Integrations’ Patent No. 7,834,605 neither anticipated nor obvious. Following trial, the district court granted judgment as a matter of law that Fairchild directly infringed this patent. The district court granted a permanent injunction against Fairchild and declined to grant an inunction against Power Integrations.”

The term injunction is just a nicer word for embargo and when companies start banning/blocking each other’s products it’s clear who’s not winning: the public.

Software Patents in the US: The Patent Office Gives Blank Checks (Let the Courts Worry About Examination!) and the Patent Microcosm Tries to Undermine Alice, Still

Posted in America, Patents at 6:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Kappos
Source: 2013 interview

Summary: In spite of repeated rejections of software patents by high courts in the United States, those who profit from such patents carry on as if nothing happened and even pay the former Director of the USPTO (David Kappos, pictured above) for lobbying

NOW THAT it’s publicly being stated that the EPO is more software patents-friendly than the USPTO (in spite of the ban; not that Battistelli minds any laws whatsoever) we thought it would be a good time to bring up this new press release that says “Samesurf [...] announces the issuance by the USPTO of five patents relating to co-browsing and synchronized browsing of online content: (1) US Patent No. 8,527,591; (2) US Patent No. 9,171,087; (3) US Patent No. 9,185,145; (4) US Patent No. 9,483,448; and (5) US Patent No. 9,489,353.”

These are of course software patents, so one has to wonder if the USPTO dealt with old applications as though the new rules (Section 101 and whatnot) don’t apply. Of course not, but something is rotten here and it’s very improbable that a high court would accept these patents upon closer examination. After Alice it barely matters if the USPTO puts some stamp on this stuff; courts and appeal boards would likely undo the stamp (it asked/petitioned to do so). So what is Samesurf bragging about really?

Suffice to say, the USPTO still wants to just grant a whole lot of nonsense. It makes the USPTO look “productive” and they probably just label it all “innovation”. Recall the latest echo chamber of the USPTO (not the first of its kind) that promotes software patents and excludes actual software developers. The patent microcosm, which opposes Alice (obviously!), publishes this new article, soon thereafter to be predictably promoted by proponents of software patents including IBM’s patent chief. To quote the key parts:

Section 101 patentability challenges of the 1970’s, in Benson and Flook, culminated in the Diamond v. Diehr decision of 1981, and the roughly contemporaneous Chakrabarty decision of 1980, set out an admirably broad ambit for patentability on the advent of the digital and biotechnological revolutions that have transformed our world these last 35 years. Coming as they did at the foundation of the Federal Circuit, these decisions reinforced a view that the US patent system was capable of broadly encompassing “anything under the sun that is made by man,” the Chakrabarty Court quoting the Senate Committee report on the 1952 Patent Act.


To address this situation through legislation, I suggest something along the lines of adding a straightforward sentence at the end of Section 101:

101. Inventions patentable. Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title. For purposes of this section, it is irrelevant whether the invention or any of its claimed elements, is otherwise unpatentable under sections 102, 103 or 112.

I believe something this simple, or its equivalent, accompanied by clear legislative history, could help undo so much of the new troubling jurisprudence that imports these other conditions of patentability at the outset, and restore 101 to the minimal, simple threshold for inventions of the useful arts to which it was always intended.

The patent microcosm is trying to change the law and even the former Director of the USPTO was recruited for this task. They just want more and more patents on everything and lower quality control, obviously.

Don’t lose sight of these people. Their malicious agenda is a detriment to software development. They don’t even develop any software.

Boris Teksler Jumps From Ericsson’s Patent Troll to Microsoft’s

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 5:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A ‘master’ troll, Boris Teksler

Boris Teksler
Credit: Japanese media

Summary: Leadership shuffled in ever-changing (morphing) patent satellites that typically prey on Linux/Android

EARLIER THIS MONTH we wrote about patent trolls of Microsoft and Ericsson “trying to tax everything, especially Linux devices.”

Watch who’s in the news again after a rename, which is a common practice among notorious patent trolls that are a front for someone else (usually a large company). It’s Ericsson’s patent troll that already operates in Europe (London) as well, thanks to the EPO which repeats the USPTO‘s errors.

IAM is writing about this patent troll that paid IAM (without disclosure in the article). This is the second time in about a month (without disclosure) and the latest blog post says that “former boss of Unwired Planet, Boris Teksler, has been appointed the new CEO of Conversant, in a move that sees the Candian NPE’s current head John Lindgren step down after more than nine years in charge.”

Conversant is the new name of MOSAID, which Microsoft passed many of Nokia‘s patents to. We also wrote a great deal about Unwired Planet, back when it was known as Openwave. “Openwave has changed its name to Unwired Planet,” as Wikipedia puts it.

Speaking of Linux-hostile trolls, IAM writes about more of them today. To quote one relevant part:

Whether it’s Microsoft’s link-up with Xiaomi or Huawei’s surprising partnership with InterDigital, licensing deals with value-added components were the major theme of 2016.

InterDigital is an anti-Android troll (we have many articles about that) and Xiaomi did not have a “link-up” with Microsoft. It was more like patent extortion, as we explained at the time.

The shell game of patent trolls is extremely important to keep abreast of. Names keep changing; the same goes for Microsoft front groups that lobby on patent law, e.g. Association for Competitive Technology, which goes (and went) by several other names (ATL or stuff with “App” and “FRAND” in it).

Another Data Point Showing Notable Decline in Patent Litigation

Posted in America, Patents at 5:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

US Patent Litigation New Filings By Year
Credit: Patently-O

Summary: The United States sees a decline in litigious activity as Alice sets in and devalues software patents (which many frivolous patent lawsuits have been about)

THE chart above, produced and published without comment by Patently-O earlier today, helps confirm that litigation was (still is) down sharply this year. Good news for everyone but the patent microcosm and patent trolls, right? It does not yet make Crouch’s job irrelevant.

We previously remarked on this trend, based on similar data that demonstrated sharp decline in litigation. Many people attribute this to Alice and Mayo.

Links 19/12/2016: NetworkManager 1.4.4, GNU Hurd 0.9

Posted in News Roundup at 9:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



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        So for those wondering but haven’t asked why the R9 290 hasn’t been used, it’s since there is still that pesky regression… While there was a fix for some, my HIS Radeon R9 290 and that of other select users still are having issues, likely due to differing video BIOS. AMD, meanwhile, reportedly hasn’t been able to reproduce this issue with their hardware.

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      NetworkManager 1.4.4 is the latest stable and most advanced build of the software, which should be used by all Linux-based operating systems that prefer this graphical solution for helping users to easily connect to Wi-Fi and wired networks, as well as Point To Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) or VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections.

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    • 4 Essential Tools to Search the Filesystem

      Desktop search is a software application which searches the contents of computer files, rather than searching the internet. The purpose of this software is to enable the user to locate information on their computer that they just cannot seem to find. Typically, this data includes emails, chat logs, documents, contact lists, graphics files, as well as multimedia files including video and audio.

      Searching a hard disk can be slow, especially bearing in mind the large storage capacities of modern hard disks. To ensure considerably better performance, desktop search engines build and maintain an index database. Populating this database is a system intensive activity. Consequently, desktop search engines can carry out indexing when the computer is not being used.

      One of the key benefits of this type of software is that it allows the user to locate data stored on their hard disk almost instantaneously. They are designed to be fast. They are not integrated with a different application, such as a file manager.

    • Don Libes’ Expect: A Surprisingly Underappreciated Unix Automation Tool

      In this article, I will attempt to convince you that Expect is an extremely underappreciated tool for automating terminal applications in Unix.

      Why do I feel so strongly about this? Well, if you’re like me you know that the best way to make a great impression at a party is to boast about your excellent understanding of the Unix command-line. However, if you really want to be the life of the party, you not only need to show that you know the commands, you must also demonstrate that you can automate everything.

    • Proprietary

      • After ignoring Linux for years, Adobe releases Flash 24 for Linux

        Adobe has just released the first final Adobe Flash Player stable release, Flash Player 24, for GNU/Linux in years.

        The company announced back in September 2016 that it would bring back Flash for Linux from the dead. This came as a surprise as it had ignored Linux for the most part when it comes to Flash.

      • Adobe Brings Flash For Linux Back From The Dead (How Cute)

        After years of neglecting to do so, Adobe has now released Flash Player 24 for GNU/Linux. Now Windows, Mac and Linux are being offered the same version of Flash Player for the first time in ages. But considering Flash is already dying a slow and painful death, this might be too little too late.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine or Emulation

      • The Out-of-Tree Wine Code To Run DOOM On Linux

        It’s sad that DOOM hasn’t seen a native Linux port with id Software having a falling out with Linux in recent years, particularly after they were acquired by ZeniMax. But fortunately there is now a patch for being able to run DOOM with Wine.

      • Second Wine 2.0 Release Candidate Fixes Hitman: Blood Money Crashes, 20 Bugs

        The second Release Candidate (RC) build of the upcoming major Wine 2.0 open-source implementation of Microsoft Windows on Unix-like operating systems arrived for testing.

        Wine 2.0 RC2 comes only one week after the release of the first RC build, and it looks like it’s here to patch even more of the remaining blockers before the final version hits the streets, which might happen just in time for the Christmas holidays if we’re lucky. If not, it will hit the streets in early 2017, as the project is now in code freeze.

      • PlayOnLinux Updated to 4.2.10, Install in Ubuntu/Linux Mint via PPA

        PlayOnLinux is a piece of software which allows you to easily install and use numerous apps and games designed to run with Microsoft Windows. Few apps and games are compatible with GNU/Linux at the moment and it certainly is a factor preventing the migration to this system. PlayOnLinux brings a cost-free, accessible and efficient solution to this problem.

      • World Wine News

        This is the 404th issue of the World Wine News publication. Its main goal is to inform you of what’s going on around Wine. Wine is an open source implementation of the Windows API on top of X and Unix. Think of it as a Windows compatibility layer. Wine does not require Microsoft Windows, as it is a completely alternative implementation consisting of 100% Microsoft-free code, but it can optionally use native system DLLs if they are available.

    • Games

      • Orwell, the surveillance simulation game is now on Linux

        Not long after requesting Linux testers for Orwell [Steam, Official Site], the surveillance simulation game, it’s now officially available on Linux.

      • The open source itch games client has been updated yet again
      • Dota 2 7.00 Benchmarks – Intel Vulkan vs. OpenGL On Linux – Mesa 13.1 + Linux 4.9

        In addition to big end-of-year AMD Radeon Linux benchmarks and the forthcoming NVIDIA data points among other interesting EOY comparisons, there is also ongoing fresh Intel Linux benchmarks as we end out 2016. For your viewing pleasure today are the latest Intel OpenGL vs. Vulkan Linux benchmark results using last week’s Dota 2 7.00 game release.

        Last week were some fresh AMD Dota 2 benchmarks while here are the numbers from Dota 2 with Intel Skylake HD Graphics 530 as of this weekend. Testing was done with the Linux 4.9 kernel and Mesa 13.1-devel as of this past week from the Padoka PPA on Ubuntu 16.10.

      • It Looks Like CryENGINE’s Sandbox Editor Could Eventually Work On Linux

        While the CryENGINE 5.x game engine is supported on Linux, to date their sandbox editor isn’t compatible with Linux but it looks like eventually there could be said support.

        CryENGINE developer David Kaye has been commenting in our forums pertaining to the discussion around CryENGINE 5.3, which sadly didn’t ship with the Vulkan API support as planned. About the lack of Vulkan support in CryENGINE 5.3, the Crytek developer commented, “we looked at the state of Vulkan prior to branching for the stabilisation of 5.3 and decided that we weren’t happy with its level of stability, so we delayed it. This is also the reason the release as a whole was delayed. This prioritisation of stability over new features is something our community have requested.”

      • Political Animals Launches Linux version!

        We’re happy to finally be able to release the game on Linux! Thanks so much to the folks on r/linux_gaming/ for their help in testing the game on multiple distros. We hope you enjoy the game.

        There are a few known issues with Linux which we have shared in our community page. Please let us know if you find any issues and we’ll do our best to sort them out.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • ​XFCE Desktop Environment – A Linux Desktop Environment For Everyone

      One of the strong advantages of Linux over Windows or Mac is freedom. You find freedom in every corner of the Linux operating systems. You have freedom of choosing one out of hundreds of distros. Most new users of Linux are introduced to either Ubuntu or Mint. This helps in reducing the choices users have in terms of the number of distros. But here, we have one more choice to make within the distro itself. As you are already guessing, It is the DE (Desktop Environment).

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Gets A Systemd Genie; KDE Partition Manager 3.0 Released

        There are two noteworthy pieces of KDE news as the weekend comes to an end.

        First up, KDE developer Ragnar Thomsen has shifted his focus from systemd-kcm as the KDE configuration module for managing systemd into its own application: SystemdGenie. SystemdGenie is systemd-kcm turned into its own full-fledged Qt application. With morphing it into its own application, SystemdGenie offers more functionality and more UI options than being a KDE KCM module.

      • Killing the redundancy with automation

        In the past three weeks, the openSUSE community KDE team has been pretty busy to package the latest release of Applications from KDE, 16.12. It was a pretty large task, due to the number of programs involved, and the fact that several monolithic projects were split (in particular KDE PIM). This post goes through what we did, and how we improved our packaging workflow.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • GoboLinux 016 Arrives After 2 Years with Its Own Filesystem Virtualization Tool

        GoboLinux developer Lucas Correia Villa Real has had the great pleasure of announcing the release of the final GoboLinux 016 operating system, an independently-developed GNU/Linux distribution that uses a custom file system hierarchy.

      • 4MRecover 21.0 Beta Ships with PhotoRec and TestDisk 7.0, Based on 4MLinux 21.0

        Polish developer Zbigniew Konojacki, the creator of the independently-developed 4MLinux computer operating system, informed Softpedia today about the release of 4MRecover 21.0 Beta.

        Based on the upcoming 4MLinux 21.0 distribution, which should be out in spring 2017, this Beta release of the 4MRecover 21.0 Live CD ships with the latest TestDisk 7.0 and QPhotoRec 7.0 software, which can be used for recovering lost partitions or photos from damaged disk drives or SD cards of all types and sizes.

        “4MRecover is a small Live CD designed for data recovery. It’s a part of 4MRescueKit, which in turn is one of the three main 4MLinux releases available for download,” said Zbigniew Konojacki in the release announcement. “This version includes TestDisk 7.0 and it uses 4MLinux 21.0 as the base system.”

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • GeckoLinux Static Editions Get Calamares Installer, Based on openSUSE Leap 42.2

        The developers of the openSUSE-based GeckoLinux computer operating system have announced the release of a new set of respined live ISO images of their GNU/Linux distribution, which is now rebased on openSUSE Leap 42.2.

      • openSUSE on ownCloud

        It is Chrismas time and I have got cookie cutters by openSUSE and ownCloud. What can you create as a happy Working Student at ownCloud and an openSUSE Contributor?

        Normally you deploy ownCloud on openSUSE. But do you know the idiom „to be in seventh heaven“ (auf Wolke 7 schweben)?

        I want to show you openSUSE Leap 42.2 on ownCloud 9.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Debian-Based SparkyLinux 4.5.2 Ships Budgie Desktop 10.2.9, Linux Kernel 4.8.15

          The development team behind the Debian-based SparkyLinux GNU/Linux distribution announced today, December 18, 2016, the release and general availability of a new ISO respin, versioned 4.5.2.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Releases Snapcraft 2.24 Snap Creator Tool for Ubuntu 16.04 and 16.10

            Canonical’s Sergio Schvezov had the great pleasure of announcing the release of Snapcraft 2.24, the latest stable version of the tool application developers can use for packaging their apps as Snaps, a universal binary format for Linux OSes.

          • Serious Ubuntu Linux desktop bugs found and fixed

            The good news is that the problems have been patched. So, now that you’re almost done reading this, patch your system already.

            The bad news is there still aren’t enough eyes looking at older open-source code for overlooked security vulnerabilities.

          • Snapd 2.20 Snappy Daemon Brings Support for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Many Other Goodies

            Canonical’s Michael Vogt happily announced the release of the Snapd 2.20 stable build of the Snappy daemon used on Ubuntu Linux operating systems for providing out-of-the-box support for installing and running Snap universal packages.

            Snapd 2.20 was released on the same day with Snapcraft 2.24, the tool app developers can use to package their applications as Snaps for cross-distro distribution. Snapd 2.20 is an important milestone that, for the first time, introduced support for the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) operating system. It’s also available in the repositories of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) and Ubuntu 16.10 (Yakkety Yak).

          • Never Miss a Desktop Notification Again With This Indicator

            Hate missing desktop notifications on Ubuntu? Well, with the Recent Notifications indicator you don’t need to. This handy tool collects and collates all desktop notifications you receive, regardless of whether you see them or not. Then, with one click, you can see and action them.

          • These Unity 8 Desktop Designs Show a Striking New Feature

            New Unity 8 desktop mock-ups shared by the Canonical design team show an interesting new approach to presenting Scopes to desktop users.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • How to upgrade to Linux Mint 18.1

              It is now possible to upgrade the Cinnamon and MATE editions of Linux Mint 18 to version 18.1.

              If you’ve been waiting for this I’d like to thank you for your patience.

            • You Can Now Upgrade From Linux Mint 18 to Linux Mint 18.1, Here’s How to Do It

              After announcing the final release of the highly anticipated Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” operating system, which shipped with Cinnamon and MATE editions, project leader Clement Lefebvre published an in-depth tutorial on how to upgrade from Linux Mint 18.

              As expected, the release of Linux Mint 18.1 also opened the upgrade path for those who are currently using the Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” operating system on their personal computer, allowing them to upgrade to the latest release without to much hassle. But first, the developer urges users to think twice before attempting an upgrade.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Smart Projector With Built-in Raspberry Pi Zero

      You’ve heard of smartphones but have you heard of smart projectors? They’ve actually been around for a few years and are sort of like a TV set top box and projector combined, leaving no need for a TV. Features can include things like streaming Netflix, browsing in Chrome, and Skyping. However, they can cost from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.

      [Novaspirit] instead made his own cheap smart projector. He first got a $70 portable projector (800×480 native resolution, decent for that price) and opened it up. He soldered an old USB hub that he already had to a Raspberry Pi Zero so that he could plug in a WiFi dongle and a dongle for a Bluetooth keyboard. That all went into the projector.

    • Pi Palette- Hacker’s Cosmetics Case

      A Raspberry Pi 3 running Kali Linux in a 3D printed enclosure to disguise it as as a (somewhat chunky) makeup palette.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • SaaS/Back End

    • Workload reference architectures address requirements for deploying OpenStack clouds
    • OpenStack, HPC and public clouds: What’s on the horizon

      Many outsiders probably think that in the world of science and HPC (high performance computing) there’s only room for supercomputers and the magicians who operate them.

      However, while that’s partially true, this area is much closer to the technology as we all know it than one would expect. And nothing proves this better than the fact that the earliest and most prevalent use cases for OpenStack are research and science. (To learn more about them, check out our OpenStack in Science web page.)

      Bringing together a group of technical specialists and researchers to solve the conundrums of how to efficiently use cloud computing technology for workloads, the RCUK Cloud Working Group recently held its second annual workshop in London. The event is an amazing opportunity to bridge the gap between the magicians of science and the magicians of technology to produce better and more efficient solutions by sharing expertise.

    • Pushing the boundaries of OpenStack – Wait, what are they again?

      As a Production Support engineer for many years, I love providing operational support for front- and back-end systems. That love of operations drives me to share knowledge on how you can push the boundaries of OpenStack. To do that, you must first know the boundaries.

    • 11 benefits to running your containers on OpenStack

      Enterprises today must keep up with increasing internal and external customer demand, or die trying.

    • Running containers, reducing complexity, and more OpenStack news
  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • Difference Between Linux And BSD | Open Source Operating Systems

      When you start to get out of the Windows ecosystem, the very first thing you see is macOS. But, chances are less that you may go for it, mostly because of the price tag. Moving further, you come across Linux flaunting its open source badge. Most people confuse Linux as an operating system and it has been a topic of controversy for a long time. Thus, some people refer a Linux operating system as GNU/Linux.

      Soon, you start realizing how diverse is the Linux ecosystem with numerous Linux distributions and their derivatives. You almost believe that Linux and its family is the representative of the open source community. But there is a lesser-known family of operating systems known as the BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution), which also counts as one of the major names in the open source community.

    • The Current State Of OpenMP Offloading In LLVM’s Clang, Try It Today With Clang-YKT

      During last month’s SuperComputing 2016 conference in Salt Lake City was the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure in HPC workshop being hosted for its third year. The slides from that event were recently made available and one of the talks interesting me the most was about the state of Clang OpenMP offloading, including for GPUs.


    • GNU Hurd 0.9 & Mach 1.8 Released: Adds Ethernet Multiplexer, Mach Drops ACPI

      There is an early GNU Christmas with the release of GNU Hurd 0.9 joined by GNU Mach 1.8. Yep, another rare released update to Hurd.

      GNU Hurd 0.9 supports its boot program running as an unprivileged user, an Ethernet multiplexer has been merged to support better virtual interfaces, the addition of the Berkeley Packet Filter (BPF) library, and many bug fixes.

      GNU Mach meanwhile as the microkernel upon which GNU Hurd systems are based, has seen many changes with version 1.8. Mach 1.8 has significantly reworked its memory management system, the virtual memory system now uses a red-black tree for allocations, and improved debugging / error reporting. There are also many bug fixes in Mach and GNU Mach has dropped its partial ACPI support.

  • Public Services/Government

    • 5 initiatives that pushed the free software envelope in Europe in 2016

      The public sector tends to lag—some would say drag—behind the private sector when it comes to adopting new technologies. This is also true when it comes to adopting free software: Although companies widely see free technologies as a boon, government organizations often are still locked into proprietary software and work with closed standards.

      That said, some countries are making progress moving toward open source technologies.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Open Access/Content

      • Ushering in a bold new era for open science

        Earlier this year, the Montreal Neurological Institute announced an ambitious – and, in many ways, unprecedented – commitment to the principles of open science.

        The Neuro will be eschewing patents for its discoveries and doing all it can to make its research findings – and all the data associated with that research – widely available. While there have been other large-scale open science initiatives – usually involving several partners collaborating in a specific area – the Neuro is the first major research institute of its kind to make such a wide-ranging commitment to open science.

        That commitment just received a huge boost, thanks to a $20-million gift from the Larry and Judy Tanenbaum family. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (BA’94) was on hand at a press conference on Dec. 16 to announce the launch of the Neuro’s new Tanenbaum Open Science Institute. “This is a catalyst,” says Neuro director Guy Rouleau of the Tanenbaum gift. “This is really going to allow us to get things done.”

      • McGill Neurology will no longer patent researchers’ findings, instead everything will be open access

        The Neurological Institute at Montreal’s McGill University is host to the “Tanenbaum Open Science Institute,” endowed by a $20M contribution; since last spring, the unit has pursued an ambitious open science agenda that includes open access publication of all research data and findings, and an end to the practice of patenting the university’s findings. Instead, they will all be patent-free and usable by anyone.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Using Blender and Python to 3D print a dress

        The opening ceremony at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio featured snowboarder Amy Purdy wearing a 3D printed dress, wearing prosthetics printed from the same material as the dress, and dancing with a Kuka robotic arm.

        The dance was a statement about the merging of the human spirit and technology. “The backstory, which mainstream media passed over, was the critical role open source software played in the making of the dress: it was created using Blender and Python.

  • Programming/Development


  • Hardware

    • Printer fun

      The current cartridges were running low for a while, but I didn’t need to change them yet. As I printed a user manual at the beginning of the week (~300+ pages in total), I ran out of the black half-way through. Bought a new cartridge, installed it, and the first strange thing was that it still showed “Black empty – please replace”.

      I powered the printer off and turned it on again (the miracle cure for all IT-related things), and things seemed OK, so I restarted printing. However, this time, the printer was going through 20-30 pages, and then was getting stuck in “Printing document” with green led blinking. Waited for 20 minutes, nothing. So cancel the job (from the printer), restart printing, all fine.

      The next day I wanted to print a single page, and didn’t manage to. Checked that the PDF is normal, checked an older PDF which I printed successfully before, nothing worked. Changed drivers, unseated & re-seated the extra memory, changed operating systems, nothing. Not even the built-in printer diagnostic pages were printing.

      The internet was all over with “HP formatter issues”; apparently some HP printers had “green” (i.e. low-quality) soldering, and were failing after a while. But people were complaining about 1-2-4 years, not 9 that my printer worked, and it was very suspicious that all troubles started after my cartridge replacement. Or, more likely, due to the recent sudden increase in printing.

    • That Didn’t Last Long: Samsung 960 EVO NVMe Already Fails

      I now have my first dead NVM Express SSD and it only lasted one week… It’s already time to RMA the Samsung 960 EVO and unfortunately lost a number of benchmarks that I was working on this weekend.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Lidl issues health warning after paint thinner chemical discovered in gravy granules

      Unsafe levels of a paint thinner chemical have been discovered in batches of gravy from Lidl.

      The discount supermarket has recalled two batches of Kania Gravy Granules after they were found to be contaminated with xylene, which occurs naturally in petroleum and crude oil, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said.

      Exposure to the “harmful” chemical poses a health risk, causing irritation of the mouth, throat, nose and lungs and in severe cases leading to heart problems, liver and kidney damage and coma, according to Public Health England.

      An alert posted on the FSA website said: “Exposure to xylene in food products represents a health risk as it can cause adverse effects such as headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

    • Paint thinner chemical found in Lidl gravy by Food Standards Agency

      Unsafe levels of a paint thinner chemical have been found in gravy granules sold at Lidl, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed.

      The contamination affected two batches of Kania Gravy Granules, which were found to contain xylene.

    • Oklahoma Just Passed a Law Requiring Private Businesses to Turn Their Bathrooms Into Billboards for Anti-Abortion Propaganda

      The Oklahoma Legislature has outdone itself this time. In the latest of their absurd and callous efforts to shame and stigmatize women, Oklahoma legislators from both parties have passed into law a requirement that commands thousands of private businesses to turn their bathroom walls into billboards for anti-abortion propaganda.

      As part of a misguided effort to reduce the number of abortions in Oklahoma, Rep. Ann Coody and Sen. AJ Griffin introduced HB 2797 — the “Humanity of the Unborn Child Act.” Among other troubling provisions, the new law requires public schools, hospitals, restaurants, and nursing homes to post signs in their restrooms directing women to services aimed at discouraging abortion.

    • Can sub-Saharan Africa produce enough food to meet growing demand?

      Each year, the planet has to feed more hungry, hungry humans. Right now, projections suggest that we might just be able to meet the challenge of feeding our growing population in 2050, but only if we make better use of the land that we use for agriculture.

      For sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), though, the question gets a little more complicated. Even if there’s enough food globally to go around by 2050, will SSA be able to produce enough to be self-sufficient? A paper in this week’s PNAS suggests that the region might be stuck relying on imports unless it massively expands its croplands. This would be bad news for the environment, and it wouldn’t be easy.

      Every region on Earth relies on food imports to some extent, but importing large amounts of food is only really feasible in countries that are economically developed. For developing countries, affording large quantities of food imports can stifle economic development. Right now, SSA produces around 80 percent of the staple grains that it needs. By contrast, North and South America, Europe, and Australia all produce well above 100 percent of their own needs. And the population of SSA is projected to increase more than that of other regions.

  • Security

    • SELinux, Seccomp, Falco, and You: A Technical Discussion

      One of the questions we often get when we talk about Sysdig Falco is “How does it compare to other tools like SELinux, AppArmor, Auditd, etc. that also have security policies?” To help answer some of those questions, we thought we’d present a summary of other related security products and how they compare to Sysdig Falco.

    • PGP Never Gonna Give You Up

      Seeing that I was planning on carrying my long-term private keys around on my telephone (BlackBerry PRIV, FDE encryption active FWIW), I had to double-check the security of the secret key encryption.

      It turns out that PGP encrypts each of your secret keys with a hash of the passphrase you supply. My passphrase is significantly longer than the average, and consists of random characters (uppercase, lowercase, numbers, symbols). Passphrase length and complexity is by far the most important factor determining the safety of your encrypted secret key.

    • McAfee Virus Scan for Linux

      A system running Intel’s McAfee VirusScan Enterprise for Linux can be compromised by remote attackers due to a number of security vulnerabilities. Some of these vulnerabilities can be chained together to allow remote code execution as root.

    • The Coolest Hacks Of 2016

      No 400-pound hacker here: Lightbulb and ‘do-gooder’ worms, machines replacing humans to hack other machines, and high-speed car hacking were among the most innovative white-hat hacks this year.

      In a year when ransomware became the new malware and cyber espionage became a powerful political propaganda tool for Russia, it’s easy to forget that not all hacking in 2016 was so ugly and destructive.

      Sure, cybercrime and cyber espionage this past year turned the corner into more manipulative and painful territory for victims. But 2016 also had its share of game-changing “good” hacks by security researchers, with some creative yet unsettling ways to break the already thin-to-no defenses of Internet of Things things, as well as crack locked-down computers and hijack computer mice. Hackers even took a back seat to machines in the first-ever machine-on-machine hacking contest this summer at DEF CON.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Right and Wrong in the South China Sea

      John Pilger’s tremendous new documentary The Coming War With China explains Chinese motivations. China is ringed by 200 US military bases and installations, far from any State of the USA, in an unabashed display of American Imperial power. China by contrast has very few military outposts outside China at all and shows remarkably little interest in territorial ambition, given China’s current economic power. The stories of US exploitation and duplicity recounted in the Pilger documentary are overwhelming, and of course the entire venture is a massive transfer of money from struggling US taxpayers to the arms industry. One is left with a feeling of surprise that the Chinese reaction to naked US threat is so calm and not paranoid.

    • China Flexes Military Might After Trump Pokes Taiwan Policy with Stick

      Fears that President-elect Donald Trump’s questioning of the “one China” policy and recent phone conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen would amplify military tensions with China were seemingly confirmed on Thursday after an editorial in the government mouthpiece, The Global Times, called for “use of force” to deter Taiwanese independence.

      “Time will tell after Trump’s team takes over the U.S., whether it will willfully utilize the one-China policy as leverage to blackmail Beijing or restrain itself in actual practice,” the editorial stated, referring to the diplomatic agreement that allows “the U.S. to do business with both China and Taiwan while only recognizing Beijing,” the Guardian explains.

      “In any case,” the editorial continued, “the current farce has made China vigilant.”

      Underscoring the threat, the Chinese navy announced late Thursday that it had, on an “undisclosed date,” carried out large-scale war exercises, using live ammunition, with the nation’s first aircraft carrier.

    • The Cold War, Continued: Post-Election Russophobia

      Mainstream TV news anchors including MSNBC’s Chris Hayes are reporting as fact—with fuming indignation—that Russia (and specifically Vladimir Putin) not only sought to influence the U.S. election (and—gosh!—promote “doubt” about the whole legitimacy of the U.S. electoral system) but to throw the vote to Donald Trump.

      The main accusation is that the DNC and Podesta emails leaked through Wikileaks were provided by state-backed Russian hackers (while they did not leak material hacked from the Republicans). I have my doubts on this. Former U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan and torture whistle-blower Craig Murray, a friend of Julian Assange, has stated that the DNC emails were leaked by a DNC insider whose identity he knows. The person, Murray contends, handed the material over to him, in a D.C. park. I have met Murray, admire and am inclined to believe him. (I just heard now that John Bolton, of all people, has also opined this was an inside job.)

    • ‘Castro Was a Living Reminder of the Limits of American Power’

      Fidel Castro, who died November 25 at age 90, will be remembered as someone whose work changed, not just Cuba, but the wider world. With US media ringing with denunciation—with some left over to denunciate those who aren’t denunciating enough—there’s little oxygen left for discussion of that work, and what it meant and still means.

      We’re joined now for some context on Castro and Cuba by Louis Pérez. He’s professor of history at the University of North Carolina and editor of Cuban Journal, and author of, among other titles, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution. He joins us now by phone from North Carolina.

    • CIA apologises to Turkey over ‘false claims’ of links to Daesh

      Diplomatic sources said that the United States main intelligence service, the CIA, had apologised to Turkey in a written statement for making “false claims” about alleged oil trading between Turkey and Daesh, Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported yesterday.

      The Turkish newspaper said that high-level Turkish diplomatic sources said that the CIA and the US Secretary of State John Kerry had apologised to Turkey following a report provided by the Turkish intelligence service which proved that the US claims were wrong in early 2015.

      According to Daily Sabaha, Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT) officials revealed that the geographic locations in the document that allegedly showed where Daesh’s oil trade was conducted in Turkey in fact showed an asphalt plant in Kilis in southeast Turkey.

      Following the MIT investigation of the CIA’s documents, the CIA apologised for the mistaken allegations at the end of 2015. “We have seen no evidence to support such an accusation. Turkey plays a vital role in the counter-ISIL coalition,” a statement by the CIA said, using another acronym for Daesh.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • How the Trump Administration Could Change the American Landscape, Literally

      With the election of Donald Trump, the management of America’s public lands could shift, altering the landscape in southern Utah and across the Western United States. Extractive projects like the Coal Hollow expansion that have stalled or been rejected under the Obama administration could be given new life. They include drilling in the Arctic, in the North Atlantic, in the forests of Colorado, and around Glacier National Park; uranium mining at the edges of the Grand Canyon; and ramped-up logging in the national forests of the Pacific Northwest.

      The federal government—we, the taxpayers—owns some 640 million acres, and about half of the land in Western states. Those lands are the source of roughly 20 percent of the oil and gas produced in the United States, and 40 percent of coal. Once burned, fossil fuels extracted from public lands account for more than a fifth of America’s greenhouse-gas emissions. Given the amount of carbon still locked in public ground—between 319 and 450 gigatons of potential carbon dioxide, according to a 2015 analysis by Ecoshift Consulting, more than half of the entire world’s carbon budget—increased development there has implications not only for local ecosystems and communities but also for the entire planet.

    • If GOP Gets Climate ‘Science’ From Breitbart, God Help the Planet

      The US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology recently tweeted an article by Breitbart, stating “@BreitbartNews: Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence From Climate Alarmists.”


      Breitbart makes much of the fact that El Niño, a cyclic Pacific Ocean weather phenomenon, has contributed to record temperatures this year and last year—as though the observation that El Niño years are warmer than usual were not a reality understood and acknowledged by every climate scientist.


      These people don’t have any independent expertise in climate science; Smith is a lawyer, Walker has a master’s in political science and Shank’s degree is in aerospace engineering. If they’re getting their information about climate disruption from sites like Breitbart, a fraudulent degree from Trump University would probably be a better education.

    • ‘We Don’t Need to Get to Standing Rock to Be Part of the Front Line’

      The struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux against the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline rivets the attention of people around the world, not only as an environmental story, an emblem of what the fight to address climate change actually looks like, but also as a historic story, a chapter in the resistance of indigenous people to the violent power of state and corporate actors. The announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers would withhold an easement permit for the last part of the Dakota Access Pipeline, pending an environmental impact study, is a significant moment that should nonetheless not be mistaken for the end of either that environmental or that historical story.

    • Investigating Law Enforcement’s Possible Use of Surveillance Technology at Standing Rock

      One of the biggest protests of 2016 is still underway at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, where Water Protectors and their allies are fighting Energy Transfer Partners’ plans to drill beneath contested Treaty land to finish the Dakota Access Pipeline. While the world has been watching law enforcement’s growing use of force to disrupt the protests, EFF has been tracking the effects of its surveillance technologies on water protectors’ communications and movement.

      Following several reports of potentially unlawful surveillance, EFF sent technologists and lawyers to North Dakota to investigate. We collected anecdotal evidence from water protectors about suspicious cell phone behavior, including uncharacteristically fast battery drainage, applications freezing, and phones crashing completely. Some water protectors also saw suspicious login attempts to their Google accounts from IP addresses originating from North Dakota’s Information & Technology Department. On social media, many reported Facebook posts and messenger threads disappearing, as well as Facebook Live uploads failing to upload or, once uploaded, disappearing completely.

    • This Just Became the World’s Cheapest Form of Electricity Out of Nowhere

      Solar power is becoming the world’s cheapest form of new electricity generation, data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) suggests.

      According to Bloomberg’s analysis, the cost of solar power in China, India, Brazil and 55 other emerging market economies has dropped to about one third of its price in 2010. This means solar now pips wind as the cheapest form of renewable energy—but is also outperforming coal and gas.

      In a note to clients this week, BNEF chairman Michael Liebreich said that solar power had entered “the era of undercutting” fossil fuels.

  • Finance

    • Wells Fargo Is on a Losing Streak, But Still Has Some Trump Cards

      The embattled Wells Fargo Bank, famously accused of signing up its customers to multiple accounts without their knowledge, was discovered last week to be doing the same thing with a life insurance product sold in their branches by Prudential. This could prove even more damaging than the original fake account scandal, as bankers are not allowed to sell insurance, much less secretly sign people up for it.

      Then on Tuesday, the bank was suspended from doing any work for the city of San Francisco, its home town. Plus, Wells was the only U.S. bank to have their “living will” — a government-mandated roadmap for how to dismantle the firm in the event of a failure — rejected by federal regulators. This is the third time since 2014 Wells Fargo had its living will denied as not credible, and for the first time, that will lead to sanctions: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Reserve announced they will prohibit Wells Fargo from establishing any international subsidiaries or purchasing any nonbank companies.

    • Whistleblower Vindicated: Massive Trading Firm Knight Capital Charged With Abusing “Naked Shorts”

      Back in September, I wrote a seven-part series at The Intercept chronicling how former Wall Street trader Chris DiIorio, determined to figure out how he lost a small fortune on a penny stock, came to the conclusion that gigantic market-making firm Knight Capital, now known as KCG, repeatedly violated federal regulations meant to prevent abuse in what are known as “naked short sales.”

      It was an explosive allegation. Naked short sales are when you sell a stock you don’t have. That’s illegal most of the time, for obvious reasons. DiIorio found evidence that KCG had illegally conducted nearly two billion dollars’ worth of them.

      It was a bit of a mystery story, with two unanswered questions at the end: Was DiIorio right? And if so, why hadn’t any regulatory authority done anything about it?

      One regulatory authority finally has, and its action would seem to confirm DiIorio’s suspicions.

    • Trump Transition Team Picks Up Yet Another Promoter of Cheap Foreign Labor

      Donald Trump the candidate campaigned on protecting the wages of American workers. In announcing his agenda for the first 100 days, he said he would task his Department of Labor to “investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker.”

      But his transition team doesn’t reflect that perspective. Veronica Birkenstock, who runs a recruitment firm that secures visas for cheap temporary foreign workers, was named to Trump’s Department of Labor landing team — before being mysteriously disappeared after The Intercept reported on it.

      Next, the Trump team chose fast food executive Andy Puzder — an outspoken proponent of legalizing undocumented workers so they can provide cheap, low-skilled labor — to be the administration’s Labor Secretary.

    • 100 CEOs Have as Much Retirement Savings as 116 Million Americans

      While many Americans are facing a “frightening retirement reality,” 100 CEOs are looking at “colossal nest eggs” and can look forward to monthly retirement checks of over $250,000 for the rest of their lives.

      The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) puts a spotlight on this massive savings gap in its new report (pdf), “A Tale of Two Retirements.”

      “While slashing jobs and benefits for ordinary workers, CEOs of large companies have been feathering their own nests,” stated Sarah Anderson, report co-author and director of the IPS Global Economy Project. “It’s no wonder so many American workers are concerned about whether their golden years will be tarnished by financial stress.”

      In fact, these 100 CEOs have retirement funds that total $4.7 billion. That’s as much as the retirement savings of the 41 percent of U.S. families with the smallest nest eggs—that’s 116 million people. The report also notes that 37 percent of U.S. families have no retirement wealth at all.

    • Are we stuck with inequality?

      The latesT study of deepening inequality by three of the most careful scholars of the subject, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saens, and Gabriel Zucman, has prompted another round of shrugs from economists that inequality is just in the nature of the advanced economy.

      Supposedly, these inexorable trends reflect technology, globalization, and increasing rewards to more advanced skills. The poor are paid in correct proportion to their contribution to the national product, which, alas, isn’t much.

      A close look at political history suggests that this widespread inference is convenient nonsense — convenient to economic elites. In fact, the distribution of income and wealth has bounced around a lot in the past century and a half. It was extreme in the first Gilded Age of the late 19th century, a little less so in the Progressive Era, extreme again in the 1920s, and remarkably egalitarian in the period between the New Deal and the early 1970s — and now extreme again.

    • EU Commission ‘exceeded its powers’ in Apple tax case

      The Government has moved to pre-empt the expected publication of the full EU Commission ruling on the controversial €13 billion Apple tax case .

      In a statement early today, it said the commission had misinterpreted Ireland’s tax laws and wrongly ruled that profits not attributable to activity in Ireland should have been taxed here.

      The commission has found that Ireland deliberately decided to forego tax due from the US multinational over many years by giving it favourable tax treatment. But the Government says the commission has misinterpreted Ireland’s tax laws.

    • Apple appeals EU tax ruling, says it was a ‘convenient target’

      Apple (AAPL.O) has launched a legal challenge to a record $14 billion EU tax demand, arguing that EU regulators ignored tax experts and corporate law and deliberately picked a method to maximize the penalty, senior executives said.

      Apple’s combative stand underlines its anger with the European Commission, which said on Aug. 30 the company’s Irish tax deal was illegal state aid and ordered it to repay up to 13 billion euros ($13.8 billion) to Ireland, where Apple has its European headquarters.

    • Apple CFO: “What the [EU] Commission is doing here is a disgrace for European citizens, it should be ashamed”
    • An Analysis of Long-Term U.S. Productivity Decline

      This report from Gallup and the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, “An Analysis of Long-Term U.S. Productivity Decline” was released last week as a 120 page pdf. Here is the table of contents:

      05. HEALTHCARE
      06. HOUSING
      07. EDUCATION

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Zorka Milin on Rex Tillerson, Ethan Nadelmann on Trump’s Drug War

      This week on CounterSpin: More Trump appointments mean more work cut out for public interest advocates. There’s no need to pick which is most worrisome, but a strong contender would be making Rex Tillerson, longtime CEO of Exxon Mobil, secretary of State. We’ll hear about Tillerson from Zorka Milin, senior legal adviser at Global Witness.

    • Trump, Choices, and Qualifications

      Now that some of Donald Trump’s choices for important positions in his administration have been made, it is time to examine the reasons for some of those appointments. An early appointment was that of General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor. He was selected for two reasons: his tenuous relationship with the truth, as shown by his promulgation of fake news over the years, a trait admired by Mr. Trump; and his former status as a general.

    • The Republican Sabotage of the Vote Recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin

      Michigan officials declared in late November that Trump won the state’s count by 10,704 votes. But hold on — a record 75,355 ballots were not counted.

      The uncounted ballots came mostly from Detroit and Flint, majority-Black cities that vote Democratic.

      According to the machines that read their ballots, these voters waited in line, sometimes for hours, yet did not choose a president. Really?

    • Blaming Trump’s Win on the Age Group Least Responsible for It

      “Yes, You Can Blame Millennials for Hillary Clinton’s Loss” was the headline over a piece by the Post‘s Aaron Blake (12/2/16). “Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Thursday that one particular group is especially to blame: Millennials.” Blake quoted another Post story citing Mook’s claim that “younger voters, perhaps assuming that Clinton was going to win, migrated to third-party candidates in the final days of the race.” “That’s why we lost,” Mook said.


      Whoa, wait—”Clinton’s 55–36 margin among those ages 18 to 29″? Yep, Clinton won among voters under 30—the Millennials, basically—by 19 percentage points. Blake doesn’t spell it out, but this is the age group that delivered by far the biggest margin for Clinton. The next-best cohort for Clinton was those aged 39–44, who picked her by a 10-point margin. This is in sharp contrast to the 45–64 and 65+ age groups, who voted for Trump by margins of 8 and 7 percentage points, respectively.

      So who do we blame for Trump—the age group that voted for Clinton by the widest margin, or the ones that voted for Trump? If you’re the Washington Post, the biggest Clinton backers are responsible for Trump, naturally.

      You can play the same statistical games with race, by the way. For example, exit polls suggest that Trump did only 1 percentage point better than Romney among white voters, who went for Trump 58–37 percent. Among African-Americans, he only got 8 percent, but his losing margin was “only” 80 percentage points, as opposed to 87 points for Romney; Trump “overperformed” with black voters by 7 points.

    • No to the Sky deal. The Murdochs can’t be trusted

      Five years ago, after the phone-hacking revelations, the House of Commons unanimously rejected Rupert Murdoch’s bid for 100% of Sky. A year later, Sky was only passed by Ofcom as being fit and proper to hold a communications licence on the basis that there was not full Murdoch ownership and control. Today, the Murdochs want to turn the view of parliament and the regulator on its head. But what’s really changed?

    • North Carolinians Revolt Over Republicans’ Brazen Post-Election Coup

      Refusing to accept Republican lawmakers’ brazen power grab, hundreds of North Carolinians flooded the halls of the General Assembly building in Raleigh Thursday evening to shame the officials as they passed a series of measures aimed at stripping power from Governor-elect Roy Cooper.
      Tweets about #RespectOurVote OR #ncga OR #ncpol

      Twenty people, including one journalist, were reportedly arrested for disrupting the special session, during which the GOP-led legislature passed a number of bills that would limit the ability of the incoming Democratic administration to make appointments and control elections.

    • CNN Praises ‘Diverse Viewpoints’ of Trump’s ‘Bipartisan CEOs’

      On CNN (12/2/16), anchor Carol Costello introduced a story about how Donald Trump is convening a panel of prominent CEOs to consult with on a monthly basis on issues including job growth and taxes.

      CNN reporter Christina Alesci reported excitedly that the panel, assembled by the Blackstone Group’s CEO Stephen Schwartzman, will be made up of a “who’s who” of “bipartisan CEOs,” including GM’s Mary Barra, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Disney‘s Bob Iger, Doug McMillon of Walmart and Jack Welch, former GE CEO.

    • Rick Luttmann, Greg Palast, Nadya Tannous, and Damanjit Singh

      In the first half of the program, mathematician Rick Luttmann discusses ranked-choice voting and why it is superior to the prevalent “plurality voting” system. Also, investigative journalist Greg Palast returns to Project Censored to explain how GOP voter supression tactics may have helped manipulate the outcome of the 2016 presidential election (he calls it a “Jim Crow election”). In the second half of the program, two activists recently returned from Standing Rock describe the violence police there are inflicting on the water protectors and their allies. Nadya Tannous and Damanjit Singh also explain why the Standing Rock confrontation is an anti-colonial struggle.

    • Voting with Risk-Limiting Audits: Better, Faster, Cheaper

      After extensive ups and downs, the election recount efforts in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania have concluded. The main lesson: ballot audits should be less exciting and less expensive. Specifically, we need to make audits an ordinary, non-partisan part of every election, done efficiently and quickly, so they are not subject to emergency fundraising and last-minute debates over their legitimacy. The way to do that is clear: make risk-limiting audits part of standard election procedure.

      After this year’s election, EFF joined many election security researchers in calling for a recount of votes in three key states. This was partly because of evidence that hackers affected other parts of the election (not directly related to voting machines). But more than that, it was based long-standing research showing that electronic voting machines and optical scanners are subject to errors and manipulation that could sway an election. In response to that call, Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s campaign raised more than $7 million to fund the recounts.

    • From Reagan to Trump: Reflecting on Three Disastrous Elections

      Like millions of Americans, I am alarmed that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. While Barack Obama’s record as president is mixed, Trump has peddled hatred and suspicion, threatening to reverse everything positive that Obama has accomplished. But along with worrying about what is to come, I’ve been reflecting on some past elections that were also shocking or wrong, elections that brought great harm — but not quite the end of civilization as we know it. The chances are that’s what will happen this time too.

    • The First Amendment requires the Pennsylvania recount

      Jill Stein and a handful of voters might succeed in forcing a recount that would make Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States.

      I say that on the basis of my experience testifying before the Florida Legislature’s Select Joint Committee on the Manner of Appointment of Presidential Electors in the 2000 Florida recount. I had been asked by Committee to provide advice on whether the many lawsuits filed by Democrats around the state could come to a conclusion in time for the Electoral College’s meeting and vote on December 18, 2000.

      If the lawsuits could not be timely concluded, a serious risk existed that Florida’s 25 electoral votes would not be counted. That would leave George w. Bush with just 246 electoral votes to Al Gore’s 266. The Committee asked for my view because I had handled hundreds of lawsuits, including many that involved expedited matters.

    • GOP electors cite rural voice in Electoral College

      When the Constitution was written, some signers wanted direct election of the president. Others wanted state legislatures or Congress to choose the executive. The Electoral College was the end result: Each state got a slate of electors numbering the same as its delegation in Congress. Electors vote, with rare exception, for whichever candidate won the most votes in their state — effectively meaning the presidential election is 51 separate popular votes.

    • Yes, Trump can lose the Electoral College — but then what?

      The Electoral College has remained a topic of hot conversation since Nov. 8.

      There has been much discussion about faithless electors abandoning their traditional role, Hamilton Electors and what happened in the past when electors have been thrown out during ballot counting by the House and Senate, such as in 1872, when Louisiana and Arkansas’ electors were thrown out.

      How could this happen again?

    • Rex Tillerson revealed as former director of US-Russian oil company in Bahamas

      Leaked documents show Donald Trump’s appointed secretary of state was a director of a Bahamas-based US-Russian oil company.

      Rex Tillerson, whose suitability for the top government position was already under question due to his potential conflicts of interest with the energy industry and his ties to Russia, is now revealed to have been the former director of ExxonMobil’s Russian subsidiary.

      Mr Tillerson was named director of Exxon Neftegas in 1998. His name on company filings – RW Tillerson – appears next to other directors based in Texas, Moscow and in far eastern Russia. The company is incorporated in the Bahamas, thousands of miles away from their most important Russian Arctic exploration projects and where the corporation tax rate is zero.

    • Trump anger smashes Vanity Fair’s subscription record

      Vanity Fair has had the last laugh after President-elect Donald Trump blasted the magazine over a snooty review of one of his restaurants: its subscription numbers have broken a company record.

      “Has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of @VanityFair Magazine?” the incoming Republican commander-in-chief asked his 17.4 million followers on Twitter bright and early Thursday.

      “Way down, big trouble, dead! Graydon Carter, no talent, will be out!” he added for good measure in reference to the magazine’s editor, with whom he has a feud dating back decades.

      Only it seems that offending the 70-year-old billionaire real estate tycoon is good for business — at least in the news industry.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Trump Promised To Help Tech Companies. What Does He Want in Return?

      Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet CEO Larry Page, and 10 other technology company leaders trooped to Trump Tower in New York this week, where the President-elect told them they were “amazing” and said, “I’m here to make you folks do well.” He pledged to do “anything we can do to help.” We’re glad to hear it, and we have a few ideas for steps the new administration can take to fulfill that commitment.

      If Mr. Trump wants to help technology thrive, he should start by protecting users and innovation from policies and practices that threaten privacy, civil liberties, and a free Internet. Users are beset by overreaching digital collection and the tracking of personal information on all fronts. We exist in an era of unprecedented government invasions into our private lives, made easier by the digital devices we carry and the servers and cloud storage that hold information about every aspect of our lives—where we go, what we say, what we buy, and with whom who we associate.

    • Trump to Inherit Vast Surveillance Powers

      Many Democrats trusted President Obama with the vast surveillance powers inherited from President George W. Bush, but now the failure to curtail those powers means they pass on to Donald Trump, notes Nat Parry.

    • Facebook Finally Says It Will Not Help Build Muslim Registry [Ed: Nonsense. Facebook ALREADY has a “Muslim Registry”]

      At the beginning of December, The Intercept reported on eight major American technology firms unwilling to state on the record that they would not help the Trump administration create a national Muslim registry. Since then, 22 different advocacy groups petitioned those companies to respond —today, Facebook breaks its silence.

      The following statement was issued to The Intercept by a Facebook spokesperson:

      “No one has asked us to build a Muslim registry, and of course we would not do so.”

    • The New and Improved Privacy Badger 2.0 Is Here

      EFF is excited to announce that today we are releasing Privacy Badger 2.0 for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. Privacy Badger is a browser extension that automatically blocks hidden third-party trackers that would otherwise follow you around the web and spy on your browsing habits. Privacy Badger now has approximately 900,000 daily users and counting.

      Third-party tracking—that is, when advertisers and websites track your browsing activity across the web without your knowledge, control, or consent—is an alarmingly widespread practice in online advertising. Privacy Badger spots and then blocks third-party domains that seem to be tracking your browsing habits (e.g. by setting cookies that could be used for tracking, or by fingerprinting your browser). If the same third-party domain appears to be tracking you on three or more different websites, Privacy Badger will conclude that the third party domain is a tracker and block future connections to it.

      Privacy Badger always tells how many third-party domains it has detected and whether or not they seem to be trackers. Further, users have control over how Privacy Badger treats these domains, with options to block a domain entirely, block just cookies, or allow a domain.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The Lies at the Heart of Our Dying Order

      One should understand why people have lost trust in experts, the media, and politicians.

      It is not difficult, it is the same reason people lost faith in Soviet Communism: Promises were made that turned out to be lies, those promises were not kept.

      Soviet Communism was supposed to lead to a cornucopia and a withering away of the state. Instead it lead to a police state and a huge drought of consumer goods, and often enough, even food. Communism failed to meet its core promises.


      Lying is bad policy. It may get you what you want in the short run, or even the medium run, but it destroys the very basis of your power and legitimacy. Lying is what neoliberal politicians, journalists (yes, yes they are neoliberal), and their experts have done to themselves and they destroyed both their own power and legitimacy and that of the order they supported. No one with sense trusts them: If you trust these people, you have no sense, it is definitional. I always laugh when some idiot says, “But 90 percent of economists think X is bad.”

    • Seth Rogen and Six More White Men Discuss Race, Gender in Animation

      If you’re planning to be asking questions like, “How do you approach different ethnicities and cultures in animation? Are you conscious of running the risk that some group could take offense?” or “Several of your movies have female protagonists. But they’re not looking for a prince,” you’d think that you’d try to get to get some kind of diversity in your panel of animation directors. Failing that, you might point out the monoculture in the room, and what it says about the animation business.

    • Widespread ethnic profiling by police: a call for EU action

      If you have never been stopped and search by the police, you might not see how it can affect those who are systematically stopped and searched, sometimes several times a week, for no apparent reason. Even if you have nothing to be blamed for, it is humiliating and frustrating to be targeted, singled out very often, just because of your perceived race, ethnicity or religion, rather than on the basis of individual behaviour or objective evidence.

      With the tightened border controls over migration concerns and the threat of terrorism, the increased perception of use of ethnic profiling has been reported by anti-racism organisations across Europe.

    • The Rise of White Racial Nationalism

      There is little doubt that white racism played a role in the U.S. presidential election of 2016. As Zach Beauchamp demonstrates in a Nov. 10 article at Vox.com, enthusiastic support for Donald Trump – 10 on a scale of 10 – among white voters in mostly white geographic areas was about 25 percent. However, in areas of growing ethnic and racial diversity, the percentage of all-in Trump support goes way up.

      Beauchamp quotes the research of the University of London scholar Eric Kaufmann, who surveyed Trump’s white supporters. Kaufmann’s original findings are reported in the policy blog of the London School of Economics. One result was that in areas that had experienced a 30 percent rise in Latino population, the number of whites who enthusiastically supported Trump rose to 70 percent.

    • Obama Can Stop the Trump Administration From Targeting and Discriminating Against Muslim and Arab Immigrants

      This Monday, December 12, the ACLU will be joining Color of Change, 18 Million Rising, MomsRising.org, MoveOn, DRUM — Desis Rising Up and Moving, and others to deliver over 280,000 petition signatures calling on President Obama to repeal the special registration system targeting Muslim and Arab immigrants before Donald Trump takes office.

    • The State of Alabama Last Night Tortured a Man While Slowly Snuffing Out His Life

      Alabama cruelly and excessively violated the bounds of human decency last night when it knowingly inflicted torturous pain during Ronald Smith’s botched execution.

      And it should never have come to this.

      Ronald Smith’s jury had voted to spare his life, but the trial judge in the case overrode the jury’s verdict and sentenced him to death under Alabama’s outlier practice. A divided Supreme Court then denied Smith’s request to postpone his execution to review the issue of judicial override, and Alabama moved forward with his execution.

      The execution of Ronald Smith last night took far longer than it should have, 34 minutes, during which time his body heaved as he struggled. He was almost certainly awake when the prison administered the agonizing drugs, whose administration without sedation is an open and shut violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

    • The California Transportation Department Is Cruelly and Unconstitutionally Destroying Homeless People’s Belongings

      Sometimes the trucks arrive early. Sometimes they come with no notice at all. Sometimes, while workers from the California Department of Transportation make their way down the row of tents—seizing property and cherished belongings—people have mere seconds to grab everything they can. Then they stand and watch as their bedding, clothes, tools, bikes, medicine, food, and other things are tossed into a trash compactor and destroyed.

      I’ve heard this story countless times from homeless people in the Bay Area and beyond. My colleagues who work on issues of poverty and inequality have too. For decades, save a few years where good practices and policies were followed because of lawsuit settlements, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and other government agencies in California have been conducting illegal sweeps of homeless encampments, cruelly and unconstitutionally seizing and destroying property.

    • The Dark Side of Christmas: The Impact on Sweatshops

      Television screens are filled with Christmas advertising, propagating the apparent need to buy something, and above all electronics, apparel, toys — the most popular Christmas gifts. The festive countdown is well underway.

      Three points specifically define the ‘festive’ season: advertisements and commercialisation, shopping and spending, and increased revenue for the Western economy. Data from Capgemini and new in the UK’s industry association for e-retail, the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), reveal that in 2015, British retailers took in over £24 billion (roughly $30 billion) during the Christmas period alone, more than the entire GDP of countries like Nepal or Honduras. This spending craze is linked with advertisement and the increasing consumerism promoted by mass-, and now social media.

    • Why Obama should pardon Chelsea Manning

      Today, Saturday 17th December, is Chelsea Manning’s 29th birthday. How will she mark the day? At Fort Leavenworth, the austere military prison in Kansas where she is serving out her 35-year sentence, time passes according to a strict and tedious regime: unlock, work detail, prisoner counts, security checks. There’s little scope for celebrations, and rules against “trafficking” mean other inmates are unlikely to be allowed to shower her with gifts.

      Post is probably as good as it gets, and one hopes the small desk in her cell is overflowing with cards and letters from friends and supporters. Letters might not seem like much but there’s one message, from one man, that could truly make her day. What, after all, would be a better birthday gift for an imprisoned whistle-blower than for Obama, presidential pen in hand, to sign off on her release?

    • Muslim chaplain of Canada’s army explains Quranic verse on wife beating

      Dr. Iqbal Al-Nadvi (Mohammad Iqbal Masood Al-Nadvi) is the Muslim Chaplain of the Canadian army, the Chairperson of Canadian Council of Imams (Canada’s top imam) and the Amir (President) of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Canada, a nation-wide Islamic organization that is striving “to build an Exemplary Canadian Muslim Community” by “total submission to Him [Allah] and through the propagation of true and universal message of Islam.”

      His previous positions include the following: Director of Al-Falah Islamic School in Oakville, Ontario from 2004 to 2011, Imam of Muslim Association of Calgary Islamic Center from 1998-2004 and as a member of the University of Calgary chaplaincy team.

    • Muslim cleric banned in Pakistan is preaching in UK mosques

      A Pakistani Muslim cleric who celebrated the murder of a popular politician is in Britain on a speaking tour of mosques. The news has alarmed social cohesion experts who fear such tours are promoting divisions in the Muslim community.

      Syed Muzaffar Shah Qadri has been banned from preaching in Pakistan because his sermons are considered too incendiary. However, he is due to visit a number of English mosques, in heavily promoted events where he is given star billing.

    • ‘They speak against it by day and cut girls at night’: fighting FGM in southern Kenya

      When Rampei Wuantai and his wife, Angela, decided not to make their daughters undergo female genital mutilation, they were not prepared for the backlash.

      The family live on a small homestead surrounding by acacia trees in the village of Illmotiok, in Kenya’s Kajiado county. Though outlawed in 2011, FGM is still widely practised in the area. The Wuantais were the first to reject the tradition.

      “Our first motivation to go against this culture was religion. We are Christians and the Bible does not tell us to cut our girls,” says Rampei, 53, a pastor and driver. He and his wife have 10 children: four girls and six boys.

      “Here, even chiefs and pastors still cut their daughters,” says Angela. “They speak against it during the day and cut their girls at night.”

      In Kenya, chiefs work under the provincial administration and are in charge of locations and sub-locations, the smallest administrative areas. Their role is to maintain law and order; constitutionally, they have power to arrest anyone breaking the law in their jurisdiction. As Angela points out, however, some turn a blind eye to the continued practise of FGM.

    • In Pakistan, five girls were killed for having fun. Then the story took an even darker twist.

      It was just a few seconds, a video clip of several young women laughing and clapping to music, dressed for a party or a wedding in orange headscarves and robes with floral patterns. Then a few more seconds of a young man dancing alone, apparently in the same room.

      The cellphone video was made six years ago, in a village deep in Kohistan, a rugged area of northwest Pakistan. It was the last time the young women, known only as Bazeegha, Sareen Jan, Begum Jan, Amina and Shaheen, have ever been definitively seen alive.

      What happened to them remains a mystery. Their fates have been shrouded by cultural taboos, official inertia, implacable resistance from elders and religious leaders suspected of ordering their deaths, and elaborate subterfuges by the families who reportedly carried out those orders.

    • Dutch government prepares to ratify EU-Ukraine deal

      The Netherlands’ government moved swiftly Friday to prepare legislation clearing the way for Parliament to vote on ratifying an EU-Ukraine free trade pact, despite Dutch voters rejecting the deal in a non-binding referendum.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • EFF to Supreme Court: Trademarks are Not Government Speech

        Today, together with the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Freedom of Expression, EFF submitted an amicus brief in Lee v. Tam. Our brief discusses an unusual but important question: are registered trademarks government expression? It is important to get the dividing line between government and private speech correct. This is because, while the government doesn’t get to control what you say, it does get to control what it says. As we argue in our brief, categorizing registered trademarks as government expression would threaten speech in many other areas.

        The case involves a rock band from California called The Slants. The band, like Dykes on Bikes®, intentionally chose a name containing a slur to reappropriate the term. The band attempted to register its name as a trademark but United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) refused the registration. The PTO concluded that the mark was not eligible under a statute prohibiting registration of any marks that “disparage” people. The PTO did not care how The Slants, an Asian-American band, intended for its mark to be understood. Rather, the fact that the term, standing alone, could be a slur was sufficient for it to deny registration.

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