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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 2 min 45 sec ago

Links 7/12/2016: ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5, Ubuntu Touch OTA-14

38 min 38 sec ago

Contents GNU/Linux Free Software/Open Source
  • NIPS conference: Google releases open-source, AI, 3D game-development project

    Today, on the opening day of the marquee AI conference Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference in Barcelona, Google announced in a blog post the release of its DeepMind Lab project available to the AI community under open source licensing terms.

    Artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) are the next two computing platforms. DeepMind Lab is a 3D AI platform for building virtual games that bring these two platforms together in multiple dimensions. DeepMind Lab uses a special kind of AI, called machine learning (ML). And within the field of ML, it uses an advanced form of machine learning called deep reinforcement learning (DeepRL).

  • 7 cool little open source projects that stood out in 2016

    In the early days of the open source movement, a lot of the attention was on operating systems, and later on large content management systems. These days, containers are mentioned regularly even in mainstream news outlets. The big tech stories are great, but they miss the other great activity in the niches of the open source space. I’ve rounded up seven interesting lesser-known projects from the past year. You can see more articles about projects like this in my Nooks and Crannies column.

  • The most in demand skills you need for an open source job

    With coding and software development in serious need of talent, it’s essentially a graduate’s market, but you still need the right combination of skills and attributes to beat the competition. When it comes to open source and DevOps, a deeper understanding is essential.

  • Why the Open Source Cloud Is Important

    To this end, foundations such as the Cloud Foundry Foundation, Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and Open Container Initiative (OCI) at The Linux Foundation are actively bringing in new open source projects and engaging member companies to create industry standards for new cloud-native technologies. The goal is to help improve interoperability and create a stable base for container operations on which companies can safely build commercial dependencies.

  • AI Platforms Welcome Devs With Open Arms

    Two leaders in the field of artificial intelligence have announced that they’re open-sourcing their AI platforms.

    After investing in building rich simulated environments to serve as laboratories for AI research, Google’s DeepMind Lab on Saturday said it would open the platform for the broader research community’s use.

    DeepMind has been using its AI lab for some time, and it has “only barely scratched the surface of what is possible” in it, noted team members Charlie Beattie, Joel Leibo, Stig Petersen and Shane Legg in an online post.

  • Open source is so much more than free code

    In 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs officially moved its most critical software, the VistA electronic health record system, into open source by establishing the Open Source Electronic Health Record Alliance (OSEHRA). Along the way, VA officials solicited and followed advice from numerous open source experts, including Red Hat, Carnegie Mellon University and the Industry Advisory Council.

  • Events
  • Databases
    • SQL Server on Linux signals Microsoft’s changing development landscape [Ed: This headline is wrong. There is no SQL Server on Linux; it runs on a Windows compatibility layer and it's entirely proprietary.]
    • Exploring the Trend Towards Open Source Database Management Systems

      The popularity of open source DBMSs, as measured by the DB-Engines Ranking, has reached a new record. So, we’re going to analyze the underlying details.

      We have 154 open source systems in our ranking, slightly less than the 156 commercial systems. If we add up the popularity scores of all the open source systems, we get 46% of the overall scores, whereas 54% goes to commercial systems.

    • Cloud convenience is killing the open source database

      Open source has never been more important or, ironically, irrelevant. As developers increasingly embrace the cloud to shorten time to market, they’re speeding past open source, making it even harder to build an open source business.

      After all, if open source were largely a way for developers to skirt legal and purchasing departments to get the software they needed when they needed it, the cloud ups that convenience to the nth degree. In Accel’s annual business review, the vaunted venture capital firm writes: “‘Product’ is no longer just the bits of software, it’s also how the software is sold, supported, and made successful.” The cloud is changing the way all software is consumed, including open source.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
  • CMS
    • WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, More: Keeping Up With Open Source CMS

      Due to its organic nature, the world of open source software is in constant flux, which makes it difficult to keep tabs on.

      To keep you in the loop, I’m kicking off a monthly roundup of open source CMS news, starting today.

      Here are your latest open source CMS highlights.

    • 4 open source peer-to-peer marketplaces

      What happens if your startup can’t afford one of these proprietary solutions or you need customized features? You go look for an open source alternative that could open the space for new solutions and modules. Here are four peer-to-peer marketplaces that are working to become the WordPress or Prestashop of their kind.

    • WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan”

      Version 4.7 of WordPress, named “Vaughan” in honor of legendary jazz vocalist Sarah “Sassy” Vaughan, is available for download or update in your WordPress dashboard. New features in 4.7 help you get your site set up the way you want it.

  • Education
    • Pencils down: Why open source is the future of standardized testing

      Administering standardized tests online is trickier than it sounds. Underneath the facade of simple multiple choice forms, any workable platform needs a complex web of features to ensure that databases don’t buckle under the pressure of tens of thousands of test takers at once. On top of that, it also needs to ensure that responses are scored correctly and that it’s impossible for students to cheat.

  • BSD
  • Public Services/Government
  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Why your teams may be failing at the collaboration game

      When we think about skills needed to build open structures and establish open mindsets, collaboration jumps to mind immediately. In order to collaborate effectively, communication—or rather, clear communication—is imperative to making it all work.

      Communication can be defined as a transfer of information from one space or person to another—but it can look like dialogue, conflict resolution, listening skills, or even a knowledge commons. In open organizations, we look for timely transfers of information to all members so that they may do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

    • Open Data
      • Portugal’s AMA publishes two open data guides

        The Portuguese Agency for Administrative Modernisation (Agência para a Modernização Administrativa, AMA) has published two national open data guides.

        As its title implies, the ‘Open Data Introduction Guide’ is aimed at the general public or those interested in learning about the subject.

        The ‘Open Data Guide’ is the official government publication on the subject of public sector data openness. It addresses theoretical issues and practices relevant to the development of open data in Portugal. The topics include open movements, the potential of data openness, processes of opening information, ways of reuse, and an introduction to technical issues. This document is aimed at the various stakeholders in the Portuguese open data ecosystem, such as public agencies, researchers, journalists, citizens and companies interested in reusing or analysing public sector information.

      • Poland looking for new Digital Services and Open Data director

        The Polish Ministry of Digital Affairs is looking for a new director for its Department of Development of Digital Services and Open Data. The director is expected to be a “creative and proactive person who will set out the directions and lead the way for the most important and boldest changes in the state administration”.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • Accelerating Innovation: Michigan Tech patent database/app promotes open-source hardware

        Open-source innovation is making the traditional patent system obsolete. Michigan Technological University associate professor Joshua Pearce and his team work with what is called open-source hardware development.

        “What that means is sort of developing technologies that don’t rely on patents,” Pearce said. “We work collaboratively with engineers and scientists all over the world, and (it’s) fairly successful. And the reason it’s successful is because if you have thousands of people working on something, it tends to get pretty good pretty fast.”

        Pearce said the concept began some time ago with open-source software.

      • Non-profit creates open-source drinking water filter for 1/10th of the cost

        The high-tech vision of open-source software meets low-tech design at non-profit organization OHorizons, an international coalition of innovators working to solve persistent global challenges. The team’s most recent invention is the open-source Wood Mold, designed to allow even the least experienced person to create a BioSand Filter that can deliver clean water at 1/10th of the cost of the traditional method. The Wood Mold is designed to be accessible by anyone who has the DIY, open-source construction manual that OHorizons offers for free online.

  • Programming/Development
Leftovers
  • The Operating System Fountain of Youth: iOS

    When I returned to the store this week, the display was gone. Still, the idea is in the air, the two individuals mentioned didn’t know about the Microsoft product.

    The Microsoft implementation might be too kludgy, or immature, or the concept itself could just be a doomed Rube Goldberg fantasy. Back to reality, we’re likely to pick up fresher clues on iOS direction when new iPads show up, probably next quarter.

  • 15+ Stunning Satellite Photos That Will Change How You See Our World

    Every single day, Grant shares one satellite photo from Digital Globes to change the way we see our planet. “With a focal length 16 times longer than a standard DSLR camera, the cameras are so powerful that you can take a picture of a beach ball on the Golden Gate Bridge in full resolution…from Los Angeles,” Grant told Bored Panda. “I try to present the images with no bias and let people decide what these altered landscapes mean, based on the facts and the visual evidence in the frame. I believe that this perspective is a means to start a conversation about the condition of our planet and how we can better protect it.”

  • Science
    • Teachers’ union ‘concerned’ over Pisa results

      Finland has slipped down the Pisa rankings in recent years, and that trend continued in the latest set of the OECD educational charts released on Tuesday. Although Finland was the only country where girls outperformed boys in science, the number of poor performing students was up and there were fewer high-achievers.

      Finland’s teaching union, the OAJ, says it is concerned about the development in Finnish Pisa results.

      “Finnish results have declined clearly when compared to previous years,” said OAJ expert Jaakko Salo. “The biggest concern in this is that our cornerstone—equality in education—looks to be crumbling.”

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Why is a banned pesticide that harms bees actually being used more?

      Goulson called it “sinister” last week when made aware of the silence, but now concludes it was probably an innocent error. Bob Maurer, chairman of the show, told me the event has never received any sponsorship from the big chemical companies that manufacture neonicotinoids. He believes an accidental “technical hitch” by the video producer was responsible.

      Concern over this coincidence can be dismissed as a conspiracy theory, but what cannot be dismissed is the solid scientific evidence that Goulson is helping to produce, showing how neonicotinoids harm bees and other insects.

    • Civil rights commission to discuss Flint water crisis report

      The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will discuss an early version of its report about the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint at its next meeting.

      The commission, which meets Monday morning at the University of Michigan Detroit center, is expected to check on progress and provide feedback. The report is scheduled to be released next month.

    • California bill would require reporting of ‘superbug’ infections, deaths

      A California state senator introduced a bill on Monday that would mandate reporting of antibiotic-resistant infections and deaths and require doctors to record the infections on death certificates when they are a cause of death.

      The legislation also aims to establish the nation’s most comprehensive statewide surveillance system to track infections and deaths from drug-resistant pathogens. Data from death certificates would be used to help compile an annual state report on superbug infections and related deaths.

      In September, a Reuters investigation revealed that tens of thousands of superbug deaths nationwide go uncounted every year. The infections are often omitted from death certificates, and even when they are recorded, they aren’t counted because of the lack of a unified national surveillance system.

      “The (Reuters) story highlighted some of the problems that have come from the lack of information, the lack of reporting, especially deaths,” said state Senator Jerry Hill, who introduced the bill. “I wasn’t aware that on death certificates, antibiotic-resistant infections have never been called out.”

      Because there is no federal surveillance system, monitoring of superbug infections and deaths falls to the states. A Reuters survey of all 50 state health departments and the District of Columbia found that reporting requirements vary widely.

  • Security
    • HP shutting down default FTP, Telnet access to network printers

      Security experts consider the aging FTP and Telnet protocols unsafe, and HP has decided to clamp down on access to networked printers through the remote-access tools.

      Some of HP’s new business printers will, by default, be closed to remote access via protocols like FTP and Telnet. However, customers can activate remote printing access through those protocols if needed.

    • Google Chrome 55 Fixes Flaws, Blocks Flash
    • Cyberattacks are going to get a lot worse, former NSA official says

      The face of cybercrime is changing. Healthcare has gone from a declared mission of stealing personal data to much more disruptive issues. In fact, healthcare has seen the largest jump in ransomware attacks than in any other industry.

      When Joel Brenner opened the HIMSS Privacy & Security Forum in Boston Monday morning, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology research fellow – who focuses on cybersecurity, privacy and intelligence policy – and former senior counsel at the National Security Agency, didn’t sugarcoat the state of healthcare security.

      The government isn’t going to sort out that problem until we suffer some great losses, Brenner said.

    • Chrome 55 Now Blocks Flash, Uses HTML5 by Default

      Chrome 55, released earlier this week, now blocks all Adobe Flash content by default, according to a plan set in motion by Google engineers earlier this year.

      Back in May, Google’s staff announced that starting with Q4 2016, Chrome would use HTML5 by default, while Flash would be turned off.

      While some of the initial implementation details of the “HTML5 By Default” plan changed since May, Flash has been phased out in favor of HTML5 as the primary technology for playing multimedia content in Chrome.

    • Google Debuts Continuous Fuzzer for Open Source Software

      A new Google program aimed at continuously fuzzing open source software has already detected over 150 bugs.

      The program, OSS-Fuzz, currently in beta mode, is designed to help unearth programming errors in open source software via fuzz testing. Fuzz testing, or fuzzing is when bits of randomly generated code is inputted into programs as a means to discover code and security flaws.

    • Google Opens Up a Powerful FOSS Security Tool

      Back in 2014, public exposure of the OpenSSL Heartbleed security bug created a stage for security experts and commentators to field opinions on the open source error that left an estimated two thirds of the internet unsecured. We followed up back then with a guest post for OStatic from Eren Niazi, founder of Open Source Storage, where he discussed the security implications for the open source community.

    • Google Finally Patches ‘Dirty COW’ Linux Vulnerability With December Android Security Update [Ed: Google patches don’t matter to news sites until there’s some stupid brand with logo and Web site]
    • Google patches Dirty Cow vulnerability in latest Android security update
    • Docker CEO: Docker Already Is a Security Platform (with Swarm, That Is)

      In a reinforcement of his company’s marketing message that containerization as an architecture is more secure by design, Docker Inc. CEO Ben Golub [pictured right above, with HPE Executive VP Antonio Neri] told attendees at HPE’s Discover London 2016 event last Tuesday morning that the Docker platform addresses and ameliorates its users’ security concerns just by its very architecture.

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • On CVE-2016-4484, a (security)? bug in the cryptsetup initramfs integration
  • Defence/Aggression
    • Pentagon buries evidence of $125 billion in bureaucratic waste

      The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

      Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

      The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Julian Assange defies Swedish prosecutors by releasing rape statement

      Julian Assange has thumbed his nose at Swedish investigators, who he says have robbed him of his freedom for six years, by releasing the answers he gave to them under questioning in Ecuador’s London embassy last month.

      The decision to issue the statement, which contains for the first time a detailed account by the WikiLeaks founder of his encounter with a woman in August 2010 who made rape allegations against him, marks a fresh twist in a case in which Assange claims an early leak of information from the Swedish police has shaped opinion.

      The transcript of a police interview with the woman was leaked to media in December 2010, which the Australian, who has not been charged with any crime, says helped to establish an aura of guilt around him.

      Since then, Assange has repeatedly asked to be allowed to tell his side of the story to prosecutors, but until recently they insisted he come to Sweden for questioning. Assange has been confined to Ecuador’s cramped London embassy since June 2012, after claiming asylum to avoid extradition over the allegations.

    • Julian Assange says texts show he is ‘entirely innocent’ of rape; WikiLeaks founder criticises Swedish prosecutor

      The ABC has obtained a copy of the statement the WikiLeaks founder gave prosecutors from his refuge inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on November 14.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • A threat to rainforests in Indonesia: Big banks

      In early 2015, scientists monitoring satellite images at Global Forest Watch raised the alarm about the destruction of rain forests in Indonesia.

      Environmental groups raced to the scene in West Kalimantan province, on the island of Borneo, to find a charred wasteland: Smouldering fires, orangutans driven from their nests, and signs of an extensive release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

      “There was pretty much no forest left,” said Dr Karmele Llano Sanchez, director of the non-profit International Animal Rescue’s orangutan rescue group, which set out to save the endangered primates. “All the forest had burned.”

    • Republicans Vow to Finish the Dakota Access Pipeline Under Trump

      This weekend the Army Corps of Engineers said Dakota Access Pipeline won’t go through as planned since it could have destructive environmental consequences. But, as activists know, that doesn’t mean Republicans are done fighting for the oil pipeline.

      President-Elect Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan were among pipeline supporters who emphasized their commitment to the project, and promised to approve the project in the next term. Trump has suggested in prior speech he would push an oil pipeline through during his first 100 days in office, according to the Wall Street Journal.

    • Five things to watch in Dakota Access pipeline fight

      The Obama administration halted construction on the Dakota Access oil pipeline Sunday, saying it would hold off on granting the final easement for the project while it conducts a thorough environmental review.

      Both the developer and President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team have vowed to finish construction, while protesters say they could bring the conflict to court.

      Here are five things to watch in the unfolding fight.

      Trump’s strategy

      When Trump and his administration take office, approving Dakota Access probably won’t be as simple as signing a piece of paper.

      The Army Corps of Engineers ordered an environmental impact statement for the project Sunday. Experts say that because of that, Trump’s administration will have to either complete the yearslong process or find a way to remove the requirement for testing the environmental impact. Doing the latter, however, would be a rare move that could subject the pipeline to a lawsuit.

    • Melting Permafrost Could Affect Weather Worldwide

      Melting permafrost is causing significant changes to the freshwater chemistry and hydrology of Alaska’s Yukon River and could be triggering global climate impacts, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report released yesterday.

      Researchers say the study, which analyzed more than 30 years of data, sheds light on how climate change is already affecting the Arctic.

      According to the report, the Yukon River and one of its major tributaries have accumulated increasing levels of calcium, magnesium and sulfates over the last three decades due to thawing permafrost.

    • Standing Rock protesters asked to ‘go home’ by Sioux leader

      The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has asked the thousands of “water protectors” gathered in encampments along the Missouri river to “go home” after the US Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the Dakota Access pipeline to drill under the river.

      In a video statement Dave Archambault thanked the thousands of Native American and environmental activists who travelled to North Dakota to help the tribe fight back against the pipeline, which they feared would contaminate their water source and destroy sacred sites.

      But after the “huge victory” of the Army Corps decision, Archambault said: “There’s no need for the water protectors or for anyone to be putting ourselves in unsafe environments.

    • Indonesia takes new step to combat loss of forests, fires

      Indonesia has strengthened its moratorium on converting peat swamps to plantations in a move a conservation research group says will help prevent annual fires and substantially cut the country’s carbon emissions if properly implemented.

      President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s amendment to the moratorium regulation, which was issued on Monday, expands it to cover peatlands of any depth and orders companies to restore areas they’ve degraded.

      Indonesia’s move was welcomed by Norway, which in 2010 pledged $1 billion to help the country stop cutting down its prized tropical forests but has released little of it. As a result of the expanded regulation, Norway said it would give $25 million to Indonesia to fund restoration of drained peatlands and another $25 million once an enforcement and monitoring plan is ready.

      Draining of peat swamps by palm oil and pulp wood companies is a big contributor to destruction of tropical forests in Indonesia and the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The land conversion worsens annual dry season fires that release huge amounts of carbon stored in the peat. Many of the fires are deliberately set to clear land of its natural vegetation.

    • Britain could slash environmental and safety standards ‘a very long way’ after Brexit, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg says

      Britain could slash environmental and safety regulations on imported products after it leaves the EU, a Tory MP has suggested.

      Jacob Rees-Mogg said regulations that were “good enough for India” could be good enough for the UK – arguing that the UK could go “a very long way” to rolling back high EU standards.

      The idea, floated at a hearing of the Treasury Select Committee, was immediately rejected by an economist, who said such a move would likely cause “quite considerable” difficulties.

  • Finance
    • The Soviet Union collapsed overnight. Don’t assume western democracy will last forever

      Below the medieval citadel in Kazan, two vast frozen rivers turn the landscape white. On a Saturday afternoon there are a few hardy locals shuffling through the icy sludge to take selfies against the mosque, the Christmas lights and the Soviet-era statues.

      It’s 25 years since I was last in Russia, trying and failing to revive the left during the chaotic first days of Boris Yeltsin’s economic reforms. Half a lifetime later I am here to address a room full of people who want to talk about replacing capitalism with something better – and suddenly we have something in common: now we both know what it’s like to see a system that once looked permanent collapsing.

      Since I’ve been here, almost everyone who has chosen to come and hear me is involved in either contemporary arts or philosophy. The journalists who want to interview me – a public critic of Putin’s policy in Syria and Ukraine – mainly write for cultural magazines. These, if not exactly the new rock’n’roll, are the safest intellectual spaces in which critical thought can take place.

    • Tar Heel heist: How the charter school industry is hijacking public education

      If the American Dream is still alive – the one that includes a good job and a house with a yard, kids, and a two-car garage – you can see it taking shape in Wake County in the heart of the state of North Carolina. Signs of surging prosperity are everywhere this morning as I make my way to West Lake Middle School in Apex, NC, on the outskirts of Raleigh.

      What were once sleepy two-lane country roads are now teaming with impatient commuters, school busses, and mini-vans. New housing developments, shopping centers, and office buildings are transforming the rolling Piedmont landscape.

    • TPP May Be Dead – But Its Impact Lingers

      Despite the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being – to all-intents-and-purposes – dead in the water, pursuit of some of the most egregious objectives of the corporate interests driving the TPP agenda rolls on. Pharma is persisting in its push for countries to adopt not just TRIPS-Plus, but in some cases even TPP-Plus intellectual property rules – presumably groundwork for the later emergence of a ‘son-of-TPP’ agreement.

    • India ready to resume BTIA talks with EU without preconditions

      Government is committed to an early and balanced outcome of India-EU Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations and is willing to resume talks without any preconditions, Parliament was informed today.

      “The European Union (EU) has expressed willingness to re-engage with India in India-EU Broad based Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) negotiations subject to certain conditions.

    • The Mafia State

      The list of financial titans, including Trump, who have profited from a rigged financial system and fraud is endless. Many in the 1 percent make money by using lobbyists and bought politicians to write self-serving laws and rules and by forming unassailable monopolies. They push up prices on products or services these monopolies provide. Or they lend money to the 99 percent and charge exorbitant interest. Or they use their control of government and the courts to ship jobs to Mexico or China, where wages can be as low as 22 cents an hour, and leave American workers destitute. Neoliberalism is state-sponsored extortion. It is a vast, nationally orchestrated Ponzi scheme.

      This fevered speculation and mounting inequality, made possible by the two ruling political parties, corroded and destroyed the mechanisms and institutions that permitted democratic participation and provided some protection for workers. Politicians, from Reagan on, were handsomely rewarded by their funders for delivering their credulous supporters to the corporate guillotine. The corporate coup created a mafia capitalism. This mafia capitalism, as economists such as Karl Polanyi and Joseph Stiglitz warned, gave birth to a mafia political system. Financial and political power in the hands of institutions such as Goldman Sachs and the Clinton Foundation becomes solely about personal gain. The Obamas in a few weeks will begin to give us a transparent lesson into how service to the corporate state translates into personal enrichment.

    • We don’t need a charter-school lobbyist as education secretary: Stephen Henderson

      In Detroit, parents of school-age children have plenty of choices, thanks to the nation’s largest urban network of charter schools.

      What remains in short supply is quality.

      In Brightmoor, the only high school left is Detroit Community Schools, a charter boasting more than a decade of abysmal test scores and, until recently, a superintendent who earned $130,000 a year despite a dearth of educational experience or credentials.

      On the west side, another charter school, Hope Academy, has been serving the community around Grand River and Livernois for 20 years. Its test scores have been among the lowest in the state throughout those two decades; in 2013 the school ranked in the first percentile, the absolute bottom for academic performance.

    • Jill Stein Takes Long-Shot Recount Campaign to Trump Tower

      Jill Stein went to Trump Tower on Monday to press her case for long-shot recounts in three closely contested states in last month’s presidential election.

      Ms. Stein, the Green Party presidential nominee and now the leader of the recount campaign, appeared emboldened by an early morning federal court ruling that ordered Michigan elections officials — over the protests of President-elect Donald J. Trump and his allies — to begin a recount by noon Monday.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Republican ‘faithless elector’ says he will not cast his vote for Donald Trump as he is ‘unfit for presidency’

      A REPUBLICAN presidential elector has issued the shock claim that he will not cast his vote for Donald Trump in an attempt to block his path to the White House.

      Christopher Suprun said in an article for the New York Times that he could not approve Mr Trump in good conscience as he felt the president-elect was unfit for public office.

      “Mr Trump urged violence against protesters at his rallies during the campaign,” he wrote. “He speaks of retribution against his critics.”

      “I owe no debt to a party. I owe a debt to my children to leave them a nation they can trust.”

    • Trump’s lawyer suggests the president-elect’s fraud claim isn’t true

      As you’ve probably heard, there are progressive efforts underway to force recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania – three traditionally “blue” states where Donald Trump narrowly prevailed. Had these three states, where literally every independent poll showed Hillary Clinton ahead in the months leading up to Election Day, voted Democratic, Trump would’ve lost.

    • Jill Stein charges ahead with recount efforts

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is vowing to move ahead with recount efforts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, despite legal setbacks and growing opposition from Republicans and other Donald Trump allies in each state.

      “We will not give in to intimidation, to legal maneuvering and to bureaucratic obstruction,” Stein said at a news conference outside of Trump Tower on Monday.

      Her vow came as Stein’s campaign on Monday morning filed a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania — an attempt to revive the push there after Stein and other Pennsylvania voters dropped a state-based lawsuit to try to force a recount. They gave up on the state-based lawsuit when a judge raised the bond to $1 million, a price Stein panned as exorbitant .

      But even as she railed against the roadblocks in Pennsylvania, Stein lauded developments in Michigan, which was to begin its recount by noon Monday.

    • Trump’s Threat to the Constitution

      On July 7, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, met privately with House Republicans near the Capitol. I was present as chief policy director of the House Republican Conference. Mr. Trump’s purpose was to persuade the representatives to unite around him, a pitch he delivered in a subdued version of his stream-of-consciousness style. A congresswoman asked him about his plans to protect Article I of the Constitution, which assigns all federal lawmaking power to Congress.

      Mr. Trump interrupted her to declare his commitment to the Constitution — even to parts of it that do not exist, such as “Article XII.” Shock swept through the room as Mr. Trump confirmed one of our chief concerns about him: He lacked a basic knowledge of the Constitution.

    • Michigan recount begins, as Jill Stein’s legal battle moves to Pennsylvania

      Presidential candidate Jill Stein’s fight to force presidential recounts in three states focuses Monday on Pennsylvania, where her Green Party is seeking an emergency federal court order for a statewide recount, and Michigan, where a federal judge has ordered a hand recount to begin by noon.

      The recount is underway in Wisconsin.

      President-elect Donald Trump narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in all three states. The recounts were not expected to change enough votes to overturn the result of the election.

      Stein says her intent is to verify the accuracy of the vote. She has suggested, with no evidence, that votes cast were susceptible to computer hacking.

    • The Frankfurt School Knew Trump Was Coming

      Shortly after the Presidential election, a small piece of good news came over the wire: the Thomas Mann villa in Los Angeles has been saved. The house, which was built to Mann’s specifications in the nineteen-forties, went on the market earlier this year, and it seemed likely to be demolished, because the structure was deemed less valuable than the land beneath it. After prolonged negotiations, the German government bought the property, with the idea of establishing it as a cultural center.

      The house deserves to stand not only because a great writer lived there but because it brings to mind a tragic moment in American cultural history. The author of “Death in Venice” and “The Magic Mountain” settled in this country in 1938, a grateful refugee from Nazism. He became a citizen and extolled American ideals. By 1952, though, he had become convinced that McCarthyism was a prelude to fascism, and felt compelled to emigrate again. At the time of the House Un-American Activities Committee’s hearings on Communism in Hollywood, Mann said, “Spiritual intolerance, political inquisitions, and declining legal security, and all this in the name of an alleged ‘state of emergency.’ . . . That is how it started in Germany.” The tearing down of Mann’s “magic villa” would have been a cold epilogue to a melancholy tale.

    • 9 Things Obama Can Do Before Leaving Office to Prepare for the Trump Takeover

      In less than seven weeks, President Barack Obama will hand over the government to Donald Trump, including access to the White House, Air Force One, and Camp David. Trump will also, of course, inherit the infamous nuclear codes, as well as the latest in warfare technology, including the Central Intelligence Agency’s fleet of killer drones, the National Security Agency’s vast surveillance and data-collection apparatus, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s enormous system of undercover informants.

    • Why is Donald Trump delegitimizing an election that he won?

      On the other hand, what he DOES is important. When he settled the Trump University for 25 Million, despite prolonging it for multiple years and putting all of the plaintiffs through years of frustration and debt, the news stories lasted less than 12 hours before being drowned by the Hamilton Tweets. My own reaction to the tweet was reflexively the same as others: Our President-elect is so sensitive that anything even slightly negative is considered an insult. But, you have to work HARD to find a story today talking about the settlement (or the fact that some are contesting it), but the fallout from the tweets lasted days. Looking back, more than once a fundamental issue concerning Trump was obscured by Tweet reactions. Nude underage beauty contestants, Manafort Russian connections, a debate that clearly showed Trump unprepared, unpresidential, and unhinged turned immaterial as the world reacted to his tweets about Alicia Machado.

    • Jill Stein On What’s Next With the Recount Effort in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania

      Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has initiated recount efforts in three states — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a combined margin of 103,519 votes. (A fourth, partial recount is underway in Nevada, by independent presidential candidate Roque De La Fuente).

      Though considered an “extreme long shot” by the New York Times, Stein’s campaign raised her initial goal of $7 million — twice as much as she raised in her failed campaign bid — in just a matter of days. Clinton’s campaign has cooperated with the effort.

    • Bob Dole’s Law Firm Was Paid $20,000 A Month To Lobby For Taiwan

      The Taiwanese representative office in Washington paid the law firm of former Sen. Bob Dole $20,000 a month to advance its interests in Washington, public filings show. Dole said on Monday his firm helped broker a controversial phone call between President-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

      Dole told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that his law firm “may have had some influence” on the phone call, which broke decades of diplomatic precedent, but has been widely praised by China hawks for the tough signal it sends to Beijing. An unnamed Trump transition team official told the paper that Dole had arranged the call.

    • US Power Will Decline Under Trump, Says Futurist Who Predicted Soviet Collapse

      Johan Galtung, a Nobel Peace Prize-nominated sociologist who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, warned that US global power will collapse under the Donald Trump administration.

      The Norwegian professor at the University of Hawaii and Transcend Peace University is recognized as the ‘founding father’ of peace and conflict studies as a scientific discipline. He has made numerous accurate predictions of major world events, most notably the collapse of the Soviet Empire.

    • Half of Detroit votes may be ineligible for recount

      One-third of precincts in Wayne County could be disqualified from an unprecedented statewide recount of presidential election results because of problems with ballots.

      Michigan’s largest county voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but officials couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 610 of 1,680 precincts during a countywide canvass of vote results late last month.

      Most of those are in heavily Democratic Detroit, where the number of ballots in precinct poll books did not match those of voting machine printout reports in 59 percent of precincts, 392 of 662.

    • Mismatched numbers means Mich. precincts can’t be recounted

      A single missing ballot was enough to scuttle the recount of a Michigan precinct Monday.

      The computerized poll book in Rochester Hills precinct 11 listed the names of 848 voters who cast ballots there, but the ballot box contained just 847 ballots. So where is the other ballot? The poll workers’ notes offered no explanation.

      “It didn’t match on the canvass and it doesn’t match now,” said Joe Rozell, Oakland County’s director of elections. “This precinct is not recountable.”

      Two Michigan counties began the recount process Monday, hours after a federal judge ordered the immediate start of the presidential recount. Six counties are expected to start the recount process Tuesday, with the last batch of counties to start Dec. 12.

    • How the Electoral College Really Started
    • Florida voters sue for recount

      Three central Florida voters are mounting an unlikely bid to overturn the presidential election result in the Sunshine State.

      In a lawsuit filed Monday in Leon Circuit Court, they assert that Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, actually won Florida. The plaintiffs, who live in Osceola and Volusia counties, say the state’s official election results were off because of hacking, malfunctioning voting machines and other problems.

      They’re asking for a hand recount of every paper ballot in Florida, at the expense of defendants including Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and the 29 Republican presidential electors from Florida.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • 3 Tips for Teachers to Help Teens Distinguish Fact From Fiction

      The rise in websites dispensing false information has become a problem for Facebook. But for one high school teacher, having students take misinformation at face value is nothing new – though it’s gotten worse.

      “I’m constantly got kids coming to me, ‘Did you know?’ insert whatever conspiracy theory,” says Dave Stuart Jr., who teaches world history at Cedar Springs High School in Michigan. “Ranging from the Apollo missions to the moon never happened, to current events-related stuff.”

      The Common Core standards focus strongly on skills that should prepare students to detect fake news – the standards emphasize the need for students to write and read arguments using and looking for strong reasoning and evidence, says Dana Maloney, an English teacher at Tenafly High School in New Jersey.

    • Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube team up to stop terrorist propaganda

      Four of the largest tech companies—Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and YouTube—are coming together to stop the spread of terroristic content on social media.

      The plan is to create a shared database and track the digital fingerprints of accounts who share propaganda for terror networks helping them identify the content and easily remove photo or videos from their sites.

      “Our companies will begin sharing hashes of the most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos we have removed from our services — content most likely to violate all of our respective companies’ content policies,” the companies announced in a joint statement Monday night.

    • Pakistani Cinema’s Censorship Problem

      Actor Hameed Sheikh, known for his phenomenol performance in Jami’s Moor, spoke about the difficulty he faced while trying to release the movie

    • Hacker News calls for “political detox,” critics cry censorship

      Can social media even exist without political debate? What about trolls? Hacker News, the social news site run by Y Combinator, is trying to find out.

      The head of the Hacker News community since 2014, Daniel Gackle (whose HN handle is “dang”) on Monday initiated a site-wide “Political Detox Week.”

    • With a new Star Trek TV series incoming, we revisit the show’s long history of censorship at the BBC…

      Star Trek is not a franchise you’d normally associate with controversy. Nevertheless, between 1969 and 1994, four episodes of the original series – Empath, Whom Gods Destroy, Plato’s Stepchildren and Miri – were not aired on the BBC, and other episodes were heavily redacted.

    • Internet giants will join forces to stop online sharing of terrorist material

      Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube have announced that they will be working together to curb the dissemination of terrorist material online. The Web giants will create a shared industry database of hashes—digital fingerprints that can identify a specific file—for violent terrorist imagery and terrorist recruitment materials that have previously been removed from their platforms.

      According to a statement the four companies have jointly released, the hope is that “this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online.”

    • I’m a Journalist and I Was Stopped From Covering Standing Rock

      It was an assignment that I barely prepared for. I didn’t think I had to.

      For most reporting trips I have made in the last decade, I would think long and hard about where I was going and what the variables were. If I was heading to a conflict zone, I would need body armor and a trauma kit. If it was a natural disaster, I would bring a satellite phone and spare food. If I was heading to an authoritarian country where journalism was not allowed, I would need a mix of burner phones, encrypted hard drives and a disposable laptop. I felt I was prepared for every eventuality. But I never thought that I would have to think about these things so close to home.

      For my recent assignment heading from Canada to the U.S. to cover the anti-oil pipeline protests in Standing Rock for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, I didn’t prepare for anything extraordinary. But at the border, after handing over my Canadian passport I was taken aside. I wasn’t worried. Why should I be? I had nothing to hide, and I felt like it was the one border in my travels where I could proudly proclaim that I was a journalist to safe ears.

    • Ahead of 2022 World Cup, Qatar doubles down on internet censorship and blocks independent news website

      Last week, an independent news website in Qatar, Doha News, discovered that they had been blocked in Qatar. While there has been no official news on why this block has happened, Doha News stated that they suspect that the block happened at the behest of the government. The news site has a reputation for toeing the line in Qatar, and had previously done such “unprecedented” things in the emirates such as publishing an anonymous article by a homosexual Qatari man. Ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it is more than possible that this is just the first of many censorship actions by Qatar. Another famous international media site that is based in Qatar is none other than Al Jazeera.

      Doha News confirmed that Qatar’s two ISPs, Ooredo and Vodaphone, have blocked Doha News. The independent news source tried to create a new domain name to get past the block but that new website was quickly blocked as well. Doha News’s editor, Shabina Khatri was forced to use a different Medium to communicate after the block.

    • Facebook reportedly testing new tool to combat fake news

      Facebook appears to be testing a tool designed to help it identify and hide so called “fake news” on the social network, in an attempt to quell increasingly vocal criticism of its role in spreading untruths and propaganda.

      The tool, reported by at least three separate Facebook users on Twitter, asks readers to rank on a scale of one to five the extent to which they think a link’s title “uses misleading language”. The articles in question were from reliable sources: Rolling Stone magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Chortle, a news site which reports on comedy.

    • Facebook and Google make lies as pretty as truth

      If you asked Google who won the popular vote just after the election, there’s a chance you would have been sent to a conspiracy blog with bogus results. And the site is likely to have looked as legitimate as any other.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • NSA’s best are ‘leaving in big numbers,’ insiders say

      Low morale at the National Security Agency is causing some of the agency’s most talented people to leave in favor of private sector jobs, former NSA Director Keith Alexander told a room full of journalism students, professors and cybersecurity…

    • Who Are The NSA’s Elite Hackers?

      Last week, a mysterious group calling itself The Shadow Brokers dumped online a series of hacking tools associated with the NSA. The leak provided an unprecedented look into the actual tools that the NSA uses to hack its targets, and in the process, put the spotlight on a little-known team that works inside the spy agency—its elite-hacking unit.

      Known as Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, its existence was barely—if at all—discussed in public until 2009, when intelligence historian and author Matthew Aid described it in his book about the history of the NSA as a “super-secret” unit that taps into “thousands of foreign computer systems” and accesses “password-protected hard drives and email accounts of targets around the world.”

    • Appeals Court to Hear Argument in ACLU Challenge to NSA Internet Surveillance

      A federal appeals court will hear oral argument Friday in Richmond, Virginia, in the case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a broad group of organizations challenging the National Security Agency’s mass interception and searching of Americans’ international internet communications.

    • German Investigation Committee ‘Protracting’ Inquiry Into NSA Spying Scandal

      WikiLeaks published 2,400 documents on the NSA spying affair, according to which Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) was involved in the creation of the spy software that was later used by the NSA to tap top-ranking officials. It was also said that BND used the software in its work.

    • Court upholds warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens under Section 702

      The U.S. federal appeals court has ruled in United States v. Mohamud, a case that began with a 2010 holiday bomb plot and will end with unique implications for the private digital communications of American citizens.

      Digital privacy advocates had hoped that the appeals case might prompt reform for a contentious portion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) known as Section 702. The provision accommodates U.S. surveillance of foreign targets located abroad, although its many detractors argue that Section 702 allows the U.S. government to collect the bulk communications of Americans in the process.

    • United States v. Mohamud
    • No Appeal For US Man Believed Convicted With Warrantless NSA Evidence

      A U.S. man convicted after his emails were revealed by the NSA’s PRISM program, the first public case of its kind, will not have his case overturned, an appeals court has found.

    • German spy agency penetrated by ISIS

      My recent interview about the German domestic spy agency, the BfV – the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, ironically – being allegedly infiltrated by ISIS.

    • Canada Wants Software Backdoors, Mandatory Decryption Capability And Records Storage

      The new Canadian government is looking to further expand its surveillance powers by requiring decryption capabilities for all services, mandatory storage of both internet and phone records for service providers, backdoors that allow interception, and warrantless access to basic subscriber information.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Saudi journalist banned from media after criticising Trump

      Saudi authorities banned journalist Jamal Khashoggi from writing in newspapers, appearing on TV and attending conferences, the Alkhalij Aljadid reported in Arabic.

      This came after Khashoggi’s remarks during a presentation he made at a Washington think-tank on 10 November in which he was critical of Donald Trump’s ascension to the US presidency.

      Two weeks ago, an official Saudi source was cited by the Saudi News Agency as saying that Khashoggi did not represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in his interviews or statements.

    • Michael Coe, associate of hate preacher Anjem Choudary, jailed for 28 months

      An associate of hate preacher Anjem Choudary has been jailed for 28 months for knocking a schoolboy unconscious because he cuddled his girlfriend in the street.

      Michael Coe, a Muslim convert, has a long record of violent offences starting when he was 16, including assaults, burglary, robbery and violent disorder.

      The married father of two was convicted in August of attacking the boy after he took exception to the 16-year-old cuddling his teenage girlfriend in Newham, east London, in April.

    • Coincidence? German Stats Show Surge in Sex Crime Rate Around Refugee Centers

      A group of German activists have carried out a study which found that rates of sexual offenses increase significantly in the vicinity of asylum reception centers, Germany’s Journalistenwatch news portal reported.

    • Afghan migrant woman ‘hunted down to Europe by abusive husband’

      Forced into marrying a man 25 years her senior after he had allegedly raped her, this 23-year-old Tajik woman from Kabul is now in a Greek camp for migrants.

      But Lina told the BBC that the abusive husband she ran away from is now following her, threatening to kill her for disobeying him.

      Her story was corroborated by volunteers for a Spanish refugee charity.

      Lina’s husband is one step behind her and her two small children, having reached the Greek island of Lesbos shortly after she was transported to mainland Greece.

    • Muslims are failing to integrate because men keep marrying abroad, major report warns

      Muslim communities remain isolated even after decades in the UK because men keep marrying foreign wives, a Government adviser has warned.

      Dame Louise Casey said that there is a “first generation in every generation” phenomenon in Muslim communities which is acting as a “bar” to integration.

      The review also accuses Labour and local authorities of having “ignored or even condoned” harmful cultural traditions for fear of being branded “racist or Islamaphobic”.

      It reports concerns that Sharia Courts in the UK have been “supporting the values of extremists, condoning wife-beating [and] ignoring marital rape”.

    • British ‘subjects’ did not deserve legal equality with their colonial masters: Interview with Marieme Helie Lucas on Sharia Courts in Britain

      Today, the British law of the land applies to all citizens, be they Catholics, Protestants, atheists, etc. Not one single citizen is beyond the law. Except for the former ‘natives’, be they actually British citizens or migrants: those – and those only – are, once more, entitled to laws of their own, because, beyond their official citizenship, they are still seen as ‘different’ from – and inferior to – the (former?) colonial master. ‘Let them have their own customs, it is their way’.

      ‘Proper’ British citizens are ruled by laws they have voted on, that they can change if they come together and press their MPs. How can ‘Sharia laws’ be changed by the will and vote of citizens? A significant proportion of British citizens are now under supposedly religious laws that they have neither voted for, nor can change through a democratic process. Democracy for ‘proper’ British citizens but unchangeable ‘tribal native customs’ for others?

    • European Union Directive on counterterrorism is seriously flawed

      European Union Member States must ensure that a new effort to standardise counterterrorism laws does not undermine fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, a group of international human rights organisations said today.

      Amnesty International, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), European Digital Rights (EDRi), the Fundamental Rights European Experts (FREE) Group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Open Society Foundations (OSF) are warning that the overly broad language of the new EU Directive on Combating Terrorism could lead to criminalising public protests and other peaceful acts, to the suppression of the exercise of freedom of expression protected under international law, including expression of dissenting political views and to other unjustified limitations on human rights. The Directive’s punitive measures also pose the risk of being disproportionately applied and implemented in a manner that discriminates against specific ethnic and religious communities.

    • Amber Rudd says EU nationals in post-Brexit UK will need ‘form of ID’

      More than 3 million European Union citizens living in Britain after Brexit will have to be issued with “some form of documentation”, the home secretary has said.

      Amber Rudd told MPs she would not yet set out the details for any new EU ID card, but said: “There will be a need to have some sort of documentation. We are not going to set it out yet. We are going to do it in a phased approach to ensure that we use all the technology advantages that we are increasingly able to harness to ensure that all immigration is carefully handled.”

      The home secretary’s statement came in response to Labour’s Hilary Benn, who told MPs that EU citizens already in the UK would need to be documented so that employers and landlords could distinguish them from EU citizens arriving after Brexit.

      During Home Office questions in the Commons, Rudd also said she was aware of the need to continue the seasonal agricultural workers’ scheme after Brexit, but again ruled out demands to remove international students from the annual net migration target.

    • Diverse yet divided: UK is growing apart, Casey report finds

      The UK is becoming more divided as it becomes more diverse, a Government-commissioned review has claimed.

      In the report by Dame Louise Casey, it is revealed that the ‘pace of immigration in some areas has been too much’.

    • Theresa May’s government condemned for driving ‘more austerity and more racism’ after integration review

      Campaigners have condemned a review of integration for “adding to the politics of racism and scapegoating” after it called for immigrants to swear an oath to the UK and children to be taught “British values” in schools.

      Dame Louise Casey’s review, which was commissioned by the Government, found the country is becoming more divided amid growing “ethnic segregation” and that Muslim women in particular were being marginalised by limited English language skills.

    • Sorry, Louise Casey, but Muslim women are held back by discrimination

      Despite the fact that more British Muslim women than men are getting degrees, we are the most disenfranchised group in the country. Not only are we subject to high levels of unemployment and poverty, but discrimination on the basis of our faith, gender and ethnic background hinders our entry into the labour market.

    • Governor Vetoes Bill That Would Have Allowed Agencies To Withhold Names Of Officers Who Deploy Deadly Force

      Last month, Pennsylvania legislators wrapped up a little gift for the state’s law enforcement agencies: a bill that would have allowed agencies to withhold the names of officers involved in deployments of deadly force for at least 30 days. This was just the mandatory withholding window. The bill never stipulated a release date past that point, meaning “never” was also an acceptable time frame.

      The normal concerns for “officer safety” were given as the reason for the new opacity. Rather than see disclosure as an essential part of maintaining healthy relationships with the communities they served, law enforcement agencies saw disclosure as just another way to hurt already very well-protected officers.

      The DOJ itself — often a defender of entrenched police culture — recommended a 72-hour window for release of this information. State legislators, pushed by local police unions, felt constituents would be better served by being kept in the dark. Given the back-and-forth nature of public sentiment, it was unclear how Governor Tom Wolf would react to the passed proposal.

    • Theresa May urged to raise human rights concerns on Gulf visit

      Theresa May has been urged to confirm she will put human rights reform on her agenda when she meets Saudi and Bahraini leaders on Tuesday, after announcements on her two-day trip to the Gulf were squarely focused on trade and security.

      Rights campaigners in Bahrain argue that although the UK has been assisting Bahrain with judicial and police reform since 2012, current levels ofengagement on rights issues have not prevented crackdowns on journalists and pro-democracy activists in the country.

      May said: “I think the UK has always had the position, and we continue to have the position, that where there are issues raised about human rights, where there are concerns, we will rightly raise those.

    • The terrible human rights records of the countries Theresa May is having dinner with tonight

      Theresa May is visiting Bahrain to meet with leaders of Gulf states, who are in the country for a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

      She will attend a dinner with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman on Tuesday, before addressing the plenary session of the summit on Wednesday.

      The Prime Minister will use the visit to announce a new working group with regional nations to combat the financing of terrorists. The UK will provide three specialist cyber experts to the Gulf states to help deal with extremism.

    • Please, Theresa May, save my husband from death in Bahrain

      In 2014 Mohammed was arrested at Bahrain’s airport where he worked as a police officer. My husband believes in human rights, democracy and transparency. He attended peaceful marches in Bahrain calling for our government to respect these values. As a state employee, he knew that it was risky for him to go to these protests. But he believes in reform and so he went anyway.

      After Mohammed was taken into custody, our family heard nothing for four days – we had no idea where he was, or even if he was alive. Eventually, two weeks later, we were allowed to see him, but only with three guards watching us on a surveillance camera. As soon as we saw him, it was clear that Mohammed had been tortured by the security services.

      Mohammed seemed weak and exhausted, and his body was trembling; this suggested to us that he had been subjected to extreme torture. But no one would tell us the reasons for his arrest or the charges against him.

    • Angela Merkel Calls for Ban on Full-Face Veils in Germany

      To loud applause, Chancellor Angela Merkel told her party members on Tuesday that Germany should ban full-face veils “wherever legally possible” and that it would not tolerate any application of Shariah law over German justice.

      Accepting her party’s nomination as its candidate for another four-year term, the chancellor used the moment to broaden her stance on banning the veil, trying to deflect challenges from far-right forces that have made some of their deepest gains since World War II.

      In welcoming nearly one million asylum seekers to Germany a year ago, Ms. Merkel emerged as a powerful voice for tolerance across a Europe gripped by anxiety over waves of arriving migrants and fears of terrorism.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • Will Donald Trump Dismantle the Internet as We Know It?

      Talking about net neutrality is so boring, the comedian John Oliver once quipped, that he would “rather listen to a pair of Dockers tell me about the weird dream it had” than delve into the topic.

      So it’s unsurprising that Donald Trump—an entertainer with a flair for the dramatic and little interest in wonky details—has stayed away from the issue almost entirely.

      If you want to captivate a nation, discussing thorny telecommunications policy is generally a terrible way to do it. (For those who have managed to avoid reading up on net neutrality thus far, the term refers to open-web principles aimed at curbing practices that give certain companies competitive advantages in how people access the internet. The FCC formally established rules last year that allow the agency to regulate broadband the way it oversees other public utilities. Those rules ban internet service providers from throttling—or slowing—connections to certain content online, and prohibit providers from offering faster connections to corporations that can afford to pay for premium web services. The rules also discourage zero-rating—in which an internet service provider subsidizes a consumer’s cost of going online but often does so in exchange for a competitive advantage.)

    • Millions in US still living life in Internet slow lane

      Millions of Americans still have extremely slow Internet speeds, a new Federal Communications Commission report shows. While the FCC defines broadband as download speeds of 25Mbps, about 47.5 million home or business Internet connections provided speeds below that threshold.

      Dealing with speeds a bit lower than the broadband standard isn’t too horrible, but there are still millions with speeds that just aren’t anywhere close to modern. Out of 102.2 million residential and business Internet connections, 22.4 million offered download speeds less than 10Mbps, with 5.8 million of those offering less than 3Mbps. About 25.1 million connections offered at least 10Mbps but less than 25Mbps.

      54.7 million households had speeds of at least 25Mbps, with 15.4 million of those at 100Mbps or higher. These are the advertised speeds, not the actual speeds consumers receive. Some customers will end up with slower speeds than what they pay for.

  • DRM
    • W3C at a crossroads: technology standards setter or legal arms-dealer?

      The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an amazing, long-running open standards body that has been largely responsible for the web’s growth and vibrancy, creating open standards that lets anyone make web technology and become part of the internet ecosystem.

      Since 2013, the W3C has been working on a very different kind of standard: Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), designed to enable DRM for streaming video, is more than a technology standard. Thanks to US-propagated laws that give DRM makers the right to sue people who break DRM, even for legal purposes, EME will — for the first time in W3C history — give its members the power to sue security researchers, accessibility toolmakers, and competitors who improve EME implementations, regardless of whether these improvements enable copyright infringement or other illegal outcomes.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Pirate Bay Blocking Case Heads Back to Court in Sweden

        In 2015, a coalition of copyright holders lost a court case which demanded an ISP blockade of The Pirate Bay in Sweden. A year later and Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music and Nordisk Film are back, hoping for a victory in a brand new court that could open the floodgates for widespread website blocking.

      • Court: ‘Falsely’ Accused ‘Movie Pirate’ Deserves $17K Compensation

        An Oregon District Court has sided with a wrongfully accused man, who was sued for allegedly downloading a pirated copy of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler. According to the court’s recommendations, the man is entitled to more than $17,000 in compensation as the result of the filmmakers “overaggressive” and “unreasonable” tactics.

      • Wild Boys Sometimes Lose It: Duran Duran fail to reclaim their US copyright

        A few weeks after his eighteenth birthday, Duran Duran co-founder Nick Rhodes signed a music publishing agreement assigning his existing and future copyrights to a publisher, as did the other band members. None of them was aged more than 21 at the time.

      • Aussie Celebrities Join Campaign to Oppose Fair Use

        A campaign has been launched in Australia to prevent proposed changes to copyright law and the introduction of a “fair use” doctrine. Australia currently has a “fair dealing” provision but the royalties and anti-piracy group APRA AMCOS and its celebrity supporters are opposing rules that would provide more freedom.

      • Ten Years in Jail For UK Internet Pirates: How the New Bill Reads

        The Digital Economy Bill is currently at the report stage. It hasn’t yet become law and could still be amended. However, as things stand those who upload any amount of infringing content to the Internet could face up to 10 years in jail. With the latest bill now published, we take a look at how file-sharers could be affected.

The UPC Scam Part VII: A Fine Mess in the Making, as Nothing Can be Made of It Amid/After Brexit

Wednesday 7th of December 2016 12:57:46 AM

Summary: The final part in this multi-part series about UPC, which cannot be implemented in the UK as long as Brexit is on the agenda

IN the previous part we made it more apparent that nothing has changed for prospects of UPC in the UK because the Brexit plan has not been called off and nothing except some words on a Web page can suggest otherwise. To put it bluntly, Lucy (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) is either clueless or delusional. She is blindly saying what CIPA, Battistelli/EPO and few other interest groups urged her to say.

We are still seeing the effects of poor (and EPO-bribed) bits of so-called ‘journalism’ about the UPC. It’s more like churnalism or propaganda and a lot of people are not even realising it. Here is Inovia modifying its own headline to make it even more misleading and make it seem like the UPC has just been authorised by the British government. The UK probably CANNOT ratify the UPC; some words on a Web page — words that contradict everything we know about Brexit — are nothing but an exercise in stupidity, but UPC hopefuls will latch onto anything.

“Ultimatums are no go…”
      –Benjamin HenrionAs always, for good/better insight into UPC in post-Brexit times see comments from those who are not in Team UPC and actually truly grok this domain. Here is what IP Watch wrote, actually quoting some sceptics for a change:

The United Kingdom government is preparing to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement, it said on 28 November. The move took the patent community by surprise but failed to relieve uncertainty about what will happen when the UK finally Brexits the EU, according to patent attorneys in the UK.

A UPC proponent said that “the alternative would have been to say “no” now or until Feb 2017.”

Or even “never”, although that would come across as undiplomatic. “The alternative would be to say wait until we leave the EU,” Tufty the Cat wrote and he is right. IAM previously said something along these lines as well, before it drank some new Kool-Aid.

“Ultimatums are no go,” Benjamin Henrion said, alluding to supposed deadlines imposed by the EPO.

“My guess,” Tufty the Cat wrote, “is it’s simply a way of buying time because @TheCIPA is afraid of the UK being left out.”

To Hell with CIPA. It is just a front/lobbying group of the rich law firms, and it’s so manipulative that it should come under regulatory laws (like most/all lobbyists). May, whom I personally met and chatted with for a long period of time, clearly doesn’t know what she’s doing here, so she probably parrots what CIPA and some patent lawyers told her to say. Not wise. The nuclear industry wants nuclear tensions and maybe war. It’s the same for patent lawyers regarding the UPC. May should recognise that CIPA is not a friend but more like a Trojan horse trying to shift policy in favour of a very small group that put money in its pot.

“[It] is it’s simply a way of buying time because @TheCIPA is afraid of the UK being left out.”
      –Tufty the CatDon’t forget the role of Barnier, either (mentioned in the last part). As one person put it, “I think this is a non-UK politician telling us why UK politicians acted. I have several alternative guesses but not this one.”

Just see his latest UPC lobbying while doing Brexit work. Look at his statements amid Lucy’s and May’s bizarre move. Is he now blatantly interfering in foreign affairs?

Michel Barnier made a career (along with Battistelli) promoting this monster, even back in the days when it wasn’t yet called “UPC”. We wrote a lot about him at the time and here he is writing: “UK will ratify Unified Patent Court Agreement. Clears way to first Unitary patent delivery in 2017. Good for innovating Europe !”

Pardon my French, but BULL-****, Sir. That statement is filled with multiple factual errors, but then again Barnier is a politician. When his mouth/lips move he lies (the same goes for Battistelli, who is also a politician).

Speaking of politicians who lie, see this MIP tweet that reads: “Very good news for European industry & SMEs … entry into force in first part of 2017″ – Commissioner @EBienkowskaEU on #UPC today”

“May should recognise that CIPA is not a friend but more like a Trojan horse trying to shift policy in favour of a very small group that put money in its pot.”This is an utter lie again. It’s consistent with what Bienkowska has been doing for years (we wrote about it when she protected Battistelli's UPC ambitions and belatedly responded to complaints about Battistelli). She is either totally clueless or a liar. We presume the former and we encourage people to explain to her what the UPC really does. SMEs actually oppose the UPC. She was probably lied to by Team UPC, pretending to speak ‘on behalf’ of SMEs (because Team UPC lacks morals, it just has a mission].

Bienkowska spoke again like a drone of Team UPC and MIP quoted her as follows: “We are not speculating about the future” – this is about getting #UPC going after 40 years – @EBienkowskaEU at press conference” (she doesn’t seem to realise what the UPC is, based on such a statement).

The EPO has existed for this long, but the UPC push/ambitions have not, so this is revisionist history.

Writing in response to IPPro Patents, Henrion said that “the only goal is to get it running, who cares what’s next.”

Well, exactly.

“…the only goal is to get it running, who cares what’s next.”
      –Benjamin HenrionThey want reassurance from May and Lucy before those two even check feasibility.

What an embarrassment to our political system.

Dr. Birgit Clark, a German lawyer working in the UK, wrote: “Saying you are continuing with preparations to ratify says “status quo” maintained but not much more?”

It’s nothing but words on some Web page. It is “good for patent trolls,” Henrion wrote, but only if it actually happens at the end (not likely at all).

Here come the liars from the EPO. A UPC hopeful from Germany wrote that “Margot Fröhlinger gives a first hand account how the UK’s intention to ratify came about #brexit #upc #ipsummit pic.twitter.com/ExdxpcT7NZ” (Margot Fröhlinger is Battistelli’s right-hand lobbyist for UPC these days).

Margot Fröhlinger has again been caught in a lie, based on this tweet that says “Fröhlinger: interventions by industry and NGOs brought the #UPC on the political agenda 1/2″

Patent lawyers and multinationals are behind this, not “industry and NGOs” (Henrion even asked “which NGOs?”).

“Saying you are continuing with preparations to ratify says “status quo” maintained but not much more?”
      –Dr. Birgit ClarkMargot Fröhlinger — like the Liars in Chief (Battistelli) — should be assumed to be lying all the time. Henrion told me that he believes CIPA is what Fröhlinger called “NGO”. How comical would that be?

The above about Fröhlinger continued with “This raised awareness for the topic and led to U.K.

The UPC Scam Part VI: The Real Story Which People Missed Due to Puff Pieces Seeded by Battistelli-Bribed Media is That UPC Technically Cannot Come to the UK

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 11:01:30 PM

No, it’s not happening unless one is gullible enough to believe EPO-funded media

Summary: Another long installment in a multi-part series about UPC at times of post-truth Battistelli-led EPO, which pays the media to repeat the lies and pretend that the UPC is inevitable so as to compel politicians to welcome it regardless of desirability and practicability

THE UPC-CENTRIC EVENTS that we are seeing these days, some of which are organised by MIP (Managing IP) and IAM with support from the EPO, are a symptom of a rogue operation. Kluwer Patent Blog, part of Team UPC, continues to lobby for the Unitary Patent in the UK, even when it’s neither doable nor desirable, for reasons we are covering in this long series. Yesterday’s article from Kluwer Patent Blog was titled “Judge Grabinski: ‘Involvement UK is very positive for Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patent’” and it has attracted responses like “No democracy: such amendment would not need a revision of the UPC but could be implemented by the Administrative Com” or “Administrative Committee to replace the role of Parliaments to adapt the UPC in case UK leaves, pretty insane…”

Another part of Team UPC is joining this echo chamber. They are blogging about themselves under the heading “UK signals green light to Unified Patent Court Agreement”. But can they actually do this? No. Not really.

Earlier today we we covered yesterday's so-called 'roundtable' of the USPTO, noting the effect of having events or panels that are stuffed with just one side, barring any opposition from entering or at least speaking. This is what Team UPC has been doing for a long time and many examples were covered here over the years, predating even the name “UPC”. UPC hopefuls write about Brexit and the UPC, but the two are still incompatible. Watch what Darren Smyth, a booster of the UPC, wrote only days ago. Who is he kidding? Following all the misleading coverage from press paid for/bought directly and less directly by the EPO, some people still piggyback the false perception that the UPC will certainly come to the UK. Sorry, that’s not going to happen. Stop living in your bubble, UPC hopefuls…

All those sham debates like the one we wrote about this afternoon may make Team UPC feel confident, but they’re in for a surprise.

“Too many patent lawyers to my taste,” Henrion wrote to us regarding yesterday’s USPTO ’roundtable’. He watched the whole thing and said “Nader was there, but not even a[ny] software developers among the panels.”

Did we ever see any software developers at UPC events? Nope. Just lots and lots of lawyers and sometimes large businesses and executives who hire these lawyers. The EPO also dispatches Margot Fröhlinger to lie to the audience these days. Talk about preaching to the choir… what a pointless exercise in lobbying (to guests like politicians).

“UK government’s intention to ratify the UPC Agreement,” MIP wrote the other day (“Unitary Patent and UPC: A progress report” by Kingsley Egbuonu in London). But that is just meaningless if it cannot be done (it can’t). Here is how Egbuonu summarised it:

The German Federal Ministry of Justice updates Managing IP on Germany’s ratification timeline; IP Federation, BioIndustry Association, EPLAW and the UPC Preparatory Committee respond to UK government’s intention to ratify the UPC Agreement (UPCA); and some of the developments we expect in the coming months

Need we remind readers that MIP, Egbuonu’s employer, is virtually in bed with the EPO? We wrote about half a dozen articles about MIP’s UPC advocacy and relationship with the EPO. Do they really think that the public isn’t seeing this? Do they honestly believe they’re seen as objective observers?

Germany is still needed for intent to ratify the UPC. As Steve Peers put it last week: “UK & DE ratification will bring Unified Patent Court treaty into force treaty: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2013.175.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ:C:2013:175:TOC … ratification: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/documents-publications/agreements-conventions/agreement/?aid=2013001 … https://twitter.com/BrunoBrussels/status/803260415425843202 …”

It’s not as simple as that at all. In fact, if it ever gets this far, the population will quickly learn about what’s going on and then point out that these agreements are not constitutional and that the public is not being informed. It’s going to end up like ACTA and TPP.

Even UPC boosters like Darren Smyth wrote: “This does rather increase focus on the question of where is the German ratification? Are they ready to ratify yet?”

See this first comment on Darren Smyth’s cheerleading a week ago: “”pretty much a certainty” is a pretty bold claim in today’s world Darren!”

Here is another comment addressed at Darren, the UPC pusher (see his role in UPC propaganda events nowadays):

Sorry Darren, but “proceeding with preparations to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA)” does not mean the UK will ratify the UPCA. The ratification is anything but certain.

The move is simply to gain time and to try to have a better bargaining position when the actual Brexit negotiations are starting.

The day UK will sign the protocol on immunities, I will believe that ratification is on its way. Before this, it is just gobbledygook.

In clear it means UPC is further delayed. As long as UK threatens to ratify the UPC, but actually does not do so, the UPCA will be held in limbo. It is meaningless to continue with the preparations if there is no clear will to ratify. The present statement is anything but a guarantee for ratification.

And even if UK would ratify, could any sensible representative advise his clients to go for a unitary patent when it is not clear what the future of the UPC will be once UK has left.

A proper decision on the ratification will not become before the start of negotiations under Art 50 Lisbon. It should be by March 2017, or even later when taking into account the legal battle about the involvement up front of the parliament.

The situation created by this statement is not very pleasant for the remaining contracting states, but that is not to be a surprise. It is like the participation in the EU: we want to participate, not for the sake of being a member, but simply to insure that nothing can happen which goes against our interests.

The only way for the other contracting state to get out the deadlock is to give a time limit to the UK for deciding whether they want to ratify or not.

And it goes on, without exception. Nobody in IP Kat comments has expressed any optimism about the UPC in a post-Brexit UK. The next comment says:

As some other commentators have remarked already, the government statement should not change much for the moment.

Bearing in mind the history of the UPCA and its contents, it is a rather bold claim to say that the UPC was “not an EU institution”. On the other hand, this is pretty much along the lines shown by the UPC proponents from the patent profession. Also, we have repeatedly seen such formalistic sharade being applied in the very same context, e. g. when it comes to the solution on Art. 6-8 or the position of the EPO in relation to unitary patent protection. It is rather characteristic of the project as such, that a government obviously sees itsef forced to rely on positions as weak as these.

Anyhow, the announcement should bring the German ratification procedure back to life shortly. Should it be completed smoothly (which is not certain), I would expect that at least the German ratification instrument will not be deposited until there is a binding solution of the UK ratification issue instead of cloudy declarations of intent.

“I’m forging ahead with my castle-building program for my goldfish,” one person said with the help of a parable, “even though it has been floating on its side for a week.”

“The one about building a castle for my dead goldfish is my favourite,” Tufty the Kat wrote about it in Twitter.

Many people already realise that the UPC bubble is about to burst, no matter what Lucy ("in the Sky With Diamonds") says. Just look at this tweet which seemingly agrees with the comments in IP Kat, even though it comes from Christopher Weber, a self-serving UPC proponent from Kather Augenstein. Recall Lucy with her photo op next to Battistelli -- one that she publicly bragged about. It basically sums it up, does it not? Those two were already pretty close, and one seems to have taken the role of “pawn”. Here is another visual reminder as a photo (or picture) is worth a thousand words:

Dr Luke McDonagh’s remarks in Twitter are also quite noteworthy. Here he says: “PM May: “The UPC is not an EU court. Let’s ratify.” Baldrick: “But the UPC is bound by EU law & CJEU.” PM May: “Shhh, Farage may hear us!””

We know some people who have already contacted UKIP about this and UKIP is aware of the issues. That won’t go down well, will it?

The UPC simply won’t (probably can’t) be ratified in the UK once businesses and people realise what it is and what it can do to them (not for them). McDonagh added: “But leaves UK in a position more enmeshed with EU law than before June 23rd ref; makes hard Brexit yet more awkward…”

“Postpone the difficult questions for later,” one person wrote to explain what May and Lucy do for Battistelli here.

Here is another comment about this unexpected and bizarre move:

What a pointless exercise.

Why should the UK ratify an agreement it may well be forced out of during Brexit negotiations? Is the UK really so naive as to think that the EU is not going to look after itself first?

Without a guarantee the UK should sit still and let the negotiations play out…..

Another person said: “This is beyond exciting. The wheels are still on the bus. It remains to be seen if there is sufficient fuel in the tank to reach the next service station, let us hope the journey is largely downhill and without too many red lights.”

And here comes another: “Wow! A case of the UK sacrificing its UK litigators to help smooth Brexit negotiations? Ratify so as not to block the UPC and then hope (or rather desperately wish) that some fudge deal will be found to allow the UK to participate at some point in the future when no longer an EU state.”

Another one: “Bonkers. Absolutely bonkers. How can we be signing up to the UPC whilst simultaneously leaving the EU and ending the jurisdiction of EU courts over the UK? Nothing about the way Brexit is being pursued by HMG makes sense, but then I guess we shouldn’t expect differently when HMG has been set such an impossible task.”

Like we said earlier, not a single comment is optimistic about this. “So we are going to have UE rights in force across Europe (in the UK) at the time of Brexit,” one person wrote hypothetically. “Will we also get transitional provisions to turn those into UK patents?”

The answer to this rhetorical question is “no”. It makes no sense whatsoever.

“I fear that this is the worst of both worlds for the UK profession,” wrote another person. “I had watched my Trade Mark colleagues who are today in an EU system and who are faced with the prospect of exiting it with a certain smugness until today. Now we have contrived to enter a system that we may need to leave.

“Blinding negotiation tactics too Neville-Rolf!

“Of course it is what CIPA appears to have been pushing for (although who knows what they have been doing really as they move in mysterious ways), either because they are skilled tacticians or terribly naïve. Time will tell which it is.”

Another person called it “Astonishing!”

“Perhaps the conclusion is that this improves the UK’s negotiating position,” this person added, “especially if the court gets well “embedded” in London?

“Not the best outcome for patentees, though. Even more uncertainty added to the UPC (which creates a great deal of uncertainty on its own – particularly during the transitional period). Should be fun working out all of the permutations for this one!”

Now quoting Theresa May herself to highlight the contradictions:

Theresa May. October 2016. Conservative Party Conference.

“Our laws will be made not in Brussels but in Westminster. The judges interpreting those laws will sit not in Luxembourg but in courts in this country. The authority of EU law in Britain will end.”

“We are going to be a fully independent, sovereign country – a country that is no longer part of a political union with supranational institutions that can override national parliaments and courts.”

“But let’s state one thing loud and clear: …. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That’s not going to happen.”

So again, May is contradicting herself. She’s trying too hard to appease CIPA and some law firms.

Then came the epic comment that mentioned Michel Barnier‘s role in the UPC and it is pretty great an observation:

And the roller coaster continues…wow, just wow, haven’t had this much excitement in years, please pass the paper bag, I’m feeling a bit queasy. So according to our illustrious representative for IP, the UK is continuing with its efforts to sign up to a deal that will force sovereignty of the EU court system on its national courts even if it is no longer a member of the EU – can’t imagine how that will go down with the erudite population that so loudly voted to “take back control”…and, in passing, one in the eye for the greedy Italian governement though, eh, thinking its day had come to shine and bask in European institutional glory ? I wonder what Michel Barnier thinks of all this, he was after all, the mouthpiece of the political rationale to cajole the various EU states into agreeing to the UPC in the first place – the mind boggles !

Here is another good comment:

It seems Britain really does want everything: to leave the EU but to remain part of an important new EU patent system (which most of the Europeans outside Germany, France and UK didn’t want anyway). How can it think to ratify the UPCA when is has voted not to be part of the larger EU?
Isn’t this a case of the bureaucratic machinery wanting to plough on when the field has already disappeared in the storm?
Madness indeed and probably a waste of tax payers money..
Sorry to say (as a UK ex-pat lawyer) but the UK government behaving like a big kid that wants to eat the cherries and cream on the top of the cake but has already refused to eat the sponge layers….
A good parent would say, sorry Sweetie but you can’t have it all…

“This is just a pressure release valve,” explained a person, “they had to say something so they’ve said we’re going to keep going. No timescale on actual ratification, or even a commitment actually to ratify.”

And in reply to the above:

I too spotted the absence of a firm commitment to ratify.

If this is simply playing for time, however, it would have been better if the IPO had avoided statements such as “It [the UK] will be working with the Preparatory Committee to bring the Unified Patent Court (UPC) into operation as soon as possible”. If that is not intended to mean what it so clearly implies, then the UK will end up burning a lot of bridges… which would not be the best of starts to exit negotiations with the EU Member States!

So the media, some of it funded by the EPO, missed all these comments from actual insiders who know this stuff. “These are truly astounding news,” remarked a commenter, “that deserve a much wider circulation than the cozy club of patent specialists. But will anyone care in these times that some call “post-truth”?”

Another person asked: “Which department would ratify the Agreement? Is Neville-Rolfe’s or Boris’s?”

Well, they cannot pretend it’s not an EU thing, as the following comment points out:

Perhaps she hasn’t read the opening paragraph of the brochure on the UPC web site helpfully called “An Enhanced European Patent System”

“In December 2012 the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament agreed on two regulations laying the foundation for unitary patent protection in the EU. Shortly afterwards, in February 2013, 25 EU Member States signed the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court (UPC).”

I know she has been busy lately…

Later on another person wrote: “The UPC refers questions to the EU court. So will EU decisions have two incarnations – one ignoring the EU court decisions, and one for continental Europe?”

Still, they cannot simply pretend it’s unrelated to the EU. In the words of another commenter (most are completely anonymous, so there’s no fear or retribution for being honest):

From the official news release: “The UPC itself is not an EU institution, it is an international patent court.”

Ah, sure. Except that Art. 20 of that very agreement you intend to ratify explicitly says that the UPC shall apply European Union law in its entirety and shall respect its primacy, and Art. 21 adds that decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union shall be binding on the UPC.

I knew we had now entered the post-truth era, but we are now into post-logic territory as well…

What would be funny now would be if Germany started dragging its feet on ratification, to get some extra leverage in the Brexit negotiations…

This UPC-related “announcement was devised by little Baldricks,” said the following, “completely clueless…”

I’m with the commenter “do not pull my leg”.

The announcement was devised by little Baldricks, completely clueless how mainland European minds work, who think they know how to “game” the forthcoming BREXIT negotiations, who have their cunning little plans how to come out of it with the best “deal” for England.

To those infected by wishful thinking I would suggest that the announcement reveals no HMG commitment whatsoever, just more playing for time, by an Organisation that hasn’t a clue what to do next.

Another response to the same post called it “bullshit beside reality!”

A longer direct response said:

our comments suggest that you believe that mainland European minds and English minds work differently? At best that sounds like some mild racism, or possibly you adhere religiously to national stereotyping? Without even appreciating which nations are involved: “Brexit means UK exit”. At least for the time being, the little Baldricks are meant to be devising cunning plans for the best “deal” for the UK.

I entirely agree that the little Baldricks don’t actually have any cunning plans and that HMG hasn’t a clue what to do next. Otherwise we wouldn’t need any announcement before actual UK ratification. Perhaps some political justification was required for the continuance of the ongoing UPC project at Aldgate Tower in London?

Responding to the above, one more person wrote: “Actually, it’s much simpler. HMG needed to give a firm decision at yesterday’s Competitiveness Council, because otherwise other European countries were planning to go ahead without us.”

So the consensus seems pretty clear in IP Kat comments. It’s a shame that the media, led by EPO-bribed publications, missed the real story and instead parroted publications like the Financial Times, obviously unaware of its financial ties to the EPO.

IAM has meanwhile been trying to shame Germany into the UPC. It has done this quite blatantly for a while and Benjamin Henrion wrote that they are “working on a Constitutional appeal in Germany. CETA was in the same process.”

“To the extent that the British public cares,” noted another observer, “this is going to be tricky to explain #UPC,” later noting “I say tricky, I mean it’s going to be highly entertaining to see the intellectual contortions necessary.”

“All [?] legislation for participation in #UPC has passed,” this person said later, “so no time for awkward questions in Parl’t”

Actually, there is plenty of time. Just a statement on some Web site is hardly enough to propel the UPC into a reality.

“This is true,” wrote the mouthpieces of Team UPC (MIP), “although it’s hard to think of a lobbying group that would push the anti-UPC case in UK at this time.”

Wait and watch…

It was the same in the days of battles over software patents.

“So Brexit means Brexit,” IAM wrote, “but maybe it’s going to be a bit softer than the rhetoric suggests. UK’s UPC ratification will create much goodwill.”

For who? IAM and its readers? On a separate occasion MIP wrote “UK to ratify UPC. Huge news for Europe, for global patent litigation & maybe an indication that whatever the rhetoric Brexit will be softish” (either way, Brexit means that UPC would be tricky if not impossible to start/maintain).

There were also some responses from other countries (“#EUCouncil #Compet Good news – UK about to ratify the unitary #patent agreement”), but these fail to take into account practical limitations. Who is this good news to? Patent law firms? Patent trolls? Patent bullies? All the above? At whose expense? And are they just building false hopes?

The real casualty here is the media, which Battistelli continues to corrupt as we wrote this morning. No wonder so many people fell for the delusion seeded by the Financial Times (financial ties to the EPO).

EPO Spiraling Down the Drain as Experienced Examiners and Judges Are Seemingly Being Replaced by Interns

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 09:44:40 PM

The Office which was once renowned for a good salary and enviable working conditions is becoming a collective of rookies without job security

Summary: Implementing yet more of his terrible ideas and so-called ‘reforms’, Battistelli seems to be racing to the bottom of everything (patent quality, staff experience, labour rights, working conditions, access to justice etc.)

THE PREDOMINANTLY FRENCH EPO management is a gold mine of scandals, yet German officials seem less interested in these scandals than French officials, seeing what a huge PR disaster Team Battistelli has become for France.

Germany’s Heiko Maas was mentioned here this morning and also last night in a caricature. He is now mentioned in this new article titled “Europäisches Patentgericht: Nun holpert die Vorbereitung in Berlin” (translation from German is needed) and we hope he intends to actually start paying attention to what happens at the EPO right now.

To quote one new comment from today:

I have a question:
How was the situation to begin with? The csc had legally chosen representatives in the appeal committee. Is that correct? Then BB suspended/dismissed those members. Is that correct? But they still remain the legally chosen representatives, wouldn’t they? So when management refuses them to take part in the appeal committee, who is blocking the procedure? Please, can someone explain to me if this is the actual situation? Thank you!

We have actually written about 4 articles about this. Battistelli, as one person explains, “warned (and possibly downgraded) the CSC appointed members. Because they did not vote as instructed…”

Does that sound familiar? Well, Battistelli threatened the independence of the boards, too. Then he wonders why there’s no perception of justice inside the Office? Here is the full reply:

The president warned (and possibly downgraded) the CSC appointed members. Because they did not vote as instructed by the lawyers of the EPO.
The CSC therefore decided, that they cannot appoint new members without a guarantee that they would not be punished for their work.

Formally, the CSC is therefore the blocking party.
Morally, the president.
Any newly appointed members would be tainted and cannot decide freely since those cases.

Speaking of the boards that lost their independence (a judge remains on house ban), watch this new tweet from the EPO, which links to this ‘job’ vacancy (warning: epo.org link). It’s not actually a job but in the words of the EPO: “If you are a national judge in an EPC contracting state you can do an internship at the EPO boards of appeal…”

What kind of judge wishes to explore an internship? The Boards of Appeal (BoA) are SEVERELY (or critically) understaffed, so what the EPO needs is hiring of full-time staff, not interns.

Another new tweet from the EPO, posted today linking to this ‘job’ vacancy (warning: epo.org link), says: “Professional representatives with experience in prosecuting European patent applications should have a look at this…”

Our suspicions seem to have been justified then. Battistelli is getting rid of (or driving away) experienced examiners that are well paid in order to hire low-salary temporary staff on short-term contracts or internships. EPs will be worthless if this carries on. Does the Administrative Council mind at all? They’re supposed to have patent quality on the agenda later this month.

A Lot of News From the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Today, With Some Important Decisions on Patents Coming Soon

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 09:21:28 PM

Summary: A roundup of today’s outcomes from the US Supreme Court, which intends to review and decide on important patent cases

THE evolution of patent law helps determine the rate of innovation and competition. It’s not as simple as “more patents” mean “more innovation”. In fact, some patents help protectionism and actively impede innovation, so these cases are important, especially when they are decided by Justices in the US.

In a publicity stunt from the USPTO, the Office gives something called “Humanity Awards” and paints that as “health” (commonly-used PR trick), just as SCOTUS reassesses the granting of patents on DNA, potentially dealing a blow to rather malicious privatisers of life’s building blocks. Here is the hogwash from the Office:

The four winners are: the US Food and Drug Administration for an improved meningitis vaccine; the Global Good Fund at Intellectual Ventures for a cooler which can preserve vaccines for over a month without outside power source; Case Western Reserve University for creating a low-cost, accurate malaria detection device using magnets and lasers that allows better diagnosis and treatment; and GestVision Inc. for developing a quick, simple diagnosis test for preeclampsia, a potentially life threatening pregnancy complication, for use in developing regions.

There is also this new article about a SCOTUS decision that may end up affecting Life Technologies and Thermo Fisher. Here is an article about the case:

Oral arguments in Life Technologies v Promega are due to take place tomorrow in the US Supreme Court to determine whether the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit correctly defined “substantial portion”.

There was also the Apple case which we have just covered and most prominently a decision (to come) about printer makers with their ripoff ploy (details above in the screenshot). There was no lack of coverage about it, ranging from “company restrict reuse of its ink cartridges”, “Patent Exhaustion with Printer Cartridges”, “Patent Exhaustion Doctrine”, “printer cartridge dispute on patent rights”, “patent exhaustion questions on foreign sales and post-sale restrictions”, “Patent Act—Exhaustion”, “Lexmark V. Impression”, to “Small Business’ Patent Case Against Lexmark” (quoting portions of headlines). Here is a decent new article about it from Courthouse News:

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a closely watched patent case that will determine whether someone can import into the United States and resell a U.S.-patented article purchased abroad.

Generally, the buyer of a patented product has the right to resell that product to a third party, but the case here stems from printer cartridges that Lexmark International sold on the condition that they not be resold.

Lexmark brought a federal complaint in Ohio several years ago, saying Impression Products had acquired its spent cartridges abroad, refilled them and resold them.

For those cartridges that Impression imported into the United States, the products were priced more cheaply than Lexmark charged.

We look forward to this decision as we wrote about this case before and so did the EFF.

In Historic Blow to Design Patents, Apple Loses to Samsung at the Supreme Court

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 08:59:26 PM

Summary: A $399 million judgment against Android devices from Samsung, with potential implications for other Android OEMs, is rejected by SCOTUS

Excellent news came through AP several hours ago: “Supreme Court throws out $399 million judgment against Samsung in company’s patent dispute with Apple over iPhone design.”

There will certainly be plenty of coverage about this, including quite a lot of rants from Apple advocacy sites. Apple lost a design/UI patent case. It has actually lost quite a few cases against Samsung by now. Many other patents in this domain will be generally lost too, by means of precedence (how many patents out there are no longer valid?).

Here is what Professor Crouch, who followed this case pretty closely, had to say:

In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Sotomayor, the Supreme Court has reversed the Federal Circuit in this important design patent damages case. Although the case offers hope for Samsung and others adjudged of infringing design patents, it offers no clarity as to the rule of law.

There is also this bit of news that’s covered a week late and says:

Apple v. Ameranth: Federal Circuit Partially Reverses PTAB and Finds All Claims for Electronic Menus Unpatentable

On November 29, 2016, in Apple Inc. v. Ameranth, Inc. 15-1703, the Federal Circuit affirmed the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) findings of unpatentable independent claims in a Covered Business Method (CBM) review and reversed findings of patentable dependent claims under 35 U.S.C. § 101. On appeal, the Federal Circuit agreed with Apple that there was sufficient evidence to support the finding that dependent claims 3, 6-9, 11 and 13-16 of Ameranth’s U.S. Patent No. 6,982,733 (‘733 patent) were unpatentable as describing insignificant post-solution activities. Despite Ameranth arguing for a substantial evidence standard of review, the Federal Circuit applied a de novo review standard in its reversal of the PTAB’s decision.

Things don’t look too promising for Apple in this CAFC case and another CAFC case, Ameranth, Inc. v. Agilsys, Inc., now gets covered in another site (it’s about PTAB).

Good Riddance. Ray Niro is Dead.

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 08:44:50 PM

Summary: The infamous father of patent trolling is dead, so we need to remember his real legacy rather than rewrite his history to appease his rich relatives (enriched by destroying real companies)

SEVERAL years ago we wrote a lot of articles about the thug and troll Ray Niro, whose ugly legacy we summarised in this Wiki page. We have hardly heard his name for years, but today IP Kat pays respect to this father of patent trolling as if there is a duty to say something nice because he is dead. Our own list of articles about him can say a lot about how horrible a person he was, but obituaries in news sites are unbelievable pieces of hogwash. Won’t they just stop eulogising this thug?

Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean he was benign or even benevolent. He was a malicious person. As someone has just put it in relation to Acacia: “Argh. F****** patent troll. Fired people & sued people who actually made stuff, hence profitable quarter. Patent trolls…”

Niro was the initiator of all this. He has had so many victims. He has done enormous damage to the US, which is now infested by trolls. Speaking of which, IAM and their troll friends, who are hoping to expand in China (and are succeeding at that to some degree), have come to China with their agenda. Once of Intellectual Ventures, the world’s largest patent troll which is connected to Niro, Blumberg played a role in IAM’s extravaganza in the East. To quote the relevant part:

Talking trolls – While the debate around ‘patent trolls’ using poor quality patents to extract low value litigation settlements has dominated IP policy discussions in the US, there has been relatively little focus on it in China. To what extent that might change was brought up in the second plenary session today by Lenovo’s head of IP Ira Blumberg. Asked by session moderator Brian Hinman, the chief IP officer of Philips, to identify the things that keep him up at night, Blumberg said that his long-term concern was that if patent damages awards continued to increase, the number of patents available to buy continued to grow as a result of widespread filing and with preliminary and permanent injunctions available, then ‘patent trolls’ could become a major problem in the Chinese market. “If handled in the wrong way China could be beset by trolls,” he commented. As well as the prospect of higher damages and the growing threat of patent owners obtaining injunctive relief, the real threat to the Chinese market stems from the fact that it is such a large manufacturing hub. That gives patent owners great scope to disrupt a company’s production facility or its supply chain and might mean foreign and local businesses start to look to other jurisdictions to make their products. “If courts give out big awards then the natural reaction will be for companies to relocate their manufacturing,” Blumberg warned. “China needs to be very careful about how its patent system develops.” Once of Intellectual Ventures, Blumberg has become a vocal critic of trolling over recent years. As we have seen in the US, though, the problem with focusing on finding solutions to combat the perceived threat this business model poses often ends up causing a lot of unintended harm. The Chinese authorities would do well to consider that when they hear the kinds of dire warnings issued by Blumberg this morning. He does have a point, but careful, nuanced policy-making is perhaps the best way to solve any problems that arise. Looking to Europe, rather than the US, and finding out why there is no real troll problem there may also be a good idea. What is clear, though, is that as the Chinese patent litigation market does become more high-profile and more high-stakes, the troll debate is going to have to take place in the country.

This disease which is patent trolls needs to be purged. We can only remember Niro as the horrible person who started this disease. After his death many can breathe a sigh of relief, but his death alone isn’t enough to make his legacy of trolls go away.

EPO Suicides Greater in Number Than is Widely Reported, Unjust System a Contributor to These

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 05:00:17 PM

Sometimes making one’s victims miserable (agony/suffering) is a sociopath’s deadly perk


Original photo: Erdoğan, 2012

Summary: The horrible regime of Benoît Battistelli has an enormous human toll (fatalities), far greater than the Office is willing to publicly acknowledge

REMEMBER how earlier this year Bavarian TV reported that Battistelli’s goons contributed a lot to the suicide of at least one employee? Remember how the EPO’s management responded to that? Remember the fact that Battistelli denies access for investigators to get to the bottom of it, perhaps fearing liability for deaths (or inducing deaths by breaking national laws in Germany)? A prominent retired judge from Germany compared this to Guantanamo Bay on Bavarian TV. Eponia is a lawless place. Battistelli is like the Sultan of Brunei and perhaps even like Erdoğan in 2016 (after the coup attempt).

Earlier today we wrote about Battistelli's attempts to retroactively legalise his own abuses so that he won’t have to obey the UN’s (or ILO’s) ruling, much like the British government continues to disobey the UN’s determination on Julian Assange’s fate.

“EPO staff who retired for health reasons have been constantly subjected to harassment and change of their status until they virtually do not know anymore where they are.”
      –AnonymousWriting about the EPO’s “latest ILOAT case law,” one reader told us, “allow me a remark about the latest decision of the ILOAT concerning the wrong composition of the Appeals Committee in the EPO. The statement made by Battistelli in his rebuttal about 100 cases which are affected in wrong. This number doesn’t consider all other cases dealt with by the Appeals Committee in his wrong composition but which were not presented to the ILOAT. Virtually all the cases dealt with by the kangaroo court in the last 2 years. I suggest that all the complainant request to have their appeals re-examined…”

But there are other issues associated with these mistrials. We previously remarked on the toll of abject/utter lack of justice, including the effects on people’s health. Els Hardon even wrote about this explicitly in her gut-wrenching letters. “And there is also another point,” our reader added, “on which I would like to draw your attention, the number of suicides at the EPO. There are cases of suicides NOT reported by the office and concerning non-active /invalid staff. I cannot quote names but check the obituaries section in the last gazette. At least [one] of the persons listed, committed suicide if not two. EPO staff who retired for health reasons have been constantly subjected to harassment and change of their status until they virtually do not know anymore where they are. Is this the way Battistelli wants to get rid of invalids?”

“Contact the delegates and let them know what kind of monster they’ve put in charge of the Office. They’re going to convene again just over a week from now.”We are aware of such stories and cases, but we did not know that these sometimes resulted in suicides. Perhaps it’s time to bring this to the attention of politicians across Europe. In a sense, the EPO can literally kill workers, if not working them to death then driving them to suicide after Team Battistelli ‘pulled an Erdoğan’. Remember that Erdoğan not only wants the death penalty back but also wants his opposition to suffer so much (mental torture) that they would want to take their own lives (but will be denied that request/ability). This was all over the news throughout the year.

“Thanks for all the work you do,” our reader said, but we still rely on readers to disseminate the message. Contact the delegates and let them know what kind of monster they’ve put in charge of the Office. They’re going to convene again just over a week from now.

Lobbying Disguised as ‘Reporting’ by the Patent Microcosm, Which Wants More Patents and More Lawsuits (Lawyers Needed)

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 04:05:13 PM

Confer recent paper from Professor Joshua Pearce, "A Case for Weakening Patent Rights"


A Case for Weakening Patent Rights [PDF] (shown above are the first five pages among 70 in total)

Summary: A rebuttal to some new articles about patents, especially those that strive to increase patent-related activities (usually for personal gain)

THE scope of patents in the US has been tightened by the US Supreme Court under Obama, but there is a growing threat — and belief among patent maximalists — that things will change under Trump (perhaps premature to speculate about this). PTAB is at stake, Alice is at stake, and perhaps more aspects related to AIA and the Supreme Court (where vacancies exist for Justices, not just because of Scalia’s death).

According to this new article, the “Supreme Court Patent Cases Haven’t Hindered Diagnostics Innovation, Preliminary Data Suggest” (article behind paywall). They might be referring to cases like Mayo (Supreme Court) and they need to stop conflating patents with innovation. In some cases, not only do patents contribute nothing to innovation but they actually harm innovation.

“PTAB is at stake, Alice is at stake, and perhaps more aspects related to AIA and the Supreme Court (where vacancies exist for Justices, not just because of Scalia’s death).”Gary D. Colby, writing for the New Jersey Law Journal (behind paywall), has just published and repeatedly pushed an article titled “Software Patent Eligibility May Be Informed by Copyright Law”. The summary/outline says “Dissents in two recently decided cases suggest that patent eligibility of “intangible” inventions finds analogies in copyright eligibility.”

Well, software developers want only copyright to protect their code. Many polls/surveys keep showing this, yet the patent microcosm ignores the findings and pretends that software patents are desirable (to the litigation industry they are definitely desirable, but at whose expense?).

As soon as the week started the patent microcosm started commenting on PTAB and “inventorship” (something the lawyers never did, they only speak about it). To quote the concluding part, “until the PTAB rules definitively that inventorship error is not a ground on which PGR may be based, it is our view that failure to raise that ground in a petition will most likely lead to an estoppel on the issue. See 35 U.S.C. § 325 (e). Thus, for now, any PGR petitioner that thinks it might have a possible basis for challenging inventorship better raise that ground in its PGR petition or risk being estopped from later challenging the patent on that basis.”

“Well, software developers want only copyright to protect their code.”The term “inventorship” totally misses the point that patents are granted not necessarily for inventorship. These sorts of fairy tales that are perpetuated ad infinitum in legal blogs do a lot of harm and software patents propagandists (who do not even know how software works!) call reformists the “patent infringer lobby” because they are trying to undermine Alice and the likes of it. See this disgusting latest article from Watchtroll for example. What is this? Is Watchtroll some kind of a troll? A spokesperson for patent trolls?

One last article worth noting was published by Jason Rantanen about the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and it said this:

As expected, for the fiscal year ending on October 31, 2016, the Federal Circuit docketed more appeals arising from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office than from the district courts. This result will almost certainly hold true for the calendar year as well: from January through October of this year, the Federal Circuit received 471 appeals arising from the district courts and 560 appeals arising from the PTO.

That’s because of PTAB, which is a growing force after AIA (the catalyst that introduced it). Some patent maximalists now use this as an excuse to weaken or lobby to altogether eliminate PTAB, bemoaning the ‘flood’ of appealed PTAB cases (examinations/IPRs) as though it justifies anything but more (new) hirings at CAFC. As is the case with programming (code), sometimes it requires more work to actually remove code than to add/write new code. In this case, what the USPTO needs is less patents, not more patents. It’s worth investing money in invalidation of bad patents. Sometimes less is more (or better quality of patents, higher certainty and so on).

“The term “inventorship” totally misses the point that patents are granted not necessarily for inventorship.”The US is currently in the process of cleaning up a mess created (or culminating) in the David Kappos era and thankfully we now see software patents being invalided by the thousands and patent lawsuits (including the majority of which that are filed by patent trolls) in a freefall.

It’s good for everybody. Except the patent microcosm…

USPTO Echo Chamber That Lacks Actual Software Professionals Deciding on Patentability of Software

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 03:20:12 PM

Imagine one of those infamous panels about poverty and hunger in Africa, where not a single person on the panel is African…


Excluding voices so as to include more patents (wider scope)

Summary: A look at yesterday’s “Roundtable on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility,” which lacked involvement from those actually affected by patents rather than those who sell, trade, and exploit these

ABOUT 24 hours ago the USPTO tried to pretend to be transparent by broadcasting a debate which was barely open to participation (read only, not read/write). As can be expected from such an event, key voices or views were prominently and conspicuously absent. “HAPPENING NOW,” the USPTO wrote in Twitter“, was a “talk on #patent subject matter eligibility until 4 pm ET today. Watch the livestream…”

“Was there anyone at this debate who does not work for a multi-billionaire like Bezos or some law firm?”How about actually speaking with them rather than being mere spectators? Were there any “real software developers [...] on the panel?” That’s what Benjamin Henrion rightly asked them because, as he later put it, “if you can follow the live stream, not many developers around.”

Daniel Nazer from the EFF quoted Jeffrey Dean of Amazon as saying that Alice invalidates patents that “remove more from public domain than they contribute to the public store of knowledge.”

“It sure seems like a lot of these ‘debates’ are happening in the absence of those whom they affect.”We remind readers that Amazon is among the pushers for software patents. Was there anyone at this debate who does not work for a multi-billionaire like Bezos or some law firm? Where are the actual developers? Their voice does not seem to matter at all when laws that apply to them are discussed. Henrion asked Nazer (not a developer), “are you on the chat?” Nazer never responded, but we’re generally used to this kind of conceited (high horse) attitude from EFF lawyers.

Either way, Henrion streamed the debate into a file and proceeded to YouTube uploads because “[t]he videos don’t play in Chromium, maybe MP4 patented format is to be blamed.” (which would be ironic!)

See herein the debate as it was uploaded, having been divided into four parts:

“Loved the slide with the big prime numbers multiplication,” Henrion remarked.

It sure seems like a lot of these ‘debates’ are happening in the absence of those whom they affect the most. To the organisers, that’s a feature, not a bug. Bias by design/composition. We see a lot of that in UPC panels/events/debates/consultations and here we have it when patents on software are at stake. Published earlier today by Juristat (targeting “patent lawyers”, based on its own account description) was this slide about “pros and cons of software patents”; well, judging by their Twitter activity, Juristat is more like a Trojan horse that would not tell the complete story about software patents as there are “many more arguments against them,” to quote Henrion’s response, than there are for them (profitable to patent lawyers etc.), as any software developer can probably tell.

More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft ‘Joined’ (Paid) the Linux Foundation

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 02:32:00 PM


“Agreements” mean patent settlements

Summary: A quick look at the past week’s news and clues about Microsoft’s (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)

THE STATE of patent trolling in the US is pretty bad and to make matters worse China is now emulating the US system by patenting almost everything and harbouring patent trolls that use rubbish patents (not even with their own name on these).

One aggregator of patents (lots of rubbish in one big pool) that we wrote about before is RPX. It’s like a massive patent troll whose members include Microsoft. According to this blog post from IAM, changes are afoot as a Senior Vice-President jumps ship:

Dan McCurdy, senior vice-president at RPX with responsibility for data and technology solutions, is to leave the defensive patent aggregator to become a partner with strategic IP consultancy Quatela Lynch. He will join on 1st January 2017, when its name will also change to Quatela Lynch McCurdy. The move comes just weeks after Laura Quatela, who founded the firm with former Kodak chief IP officer Tim Lynch in 2014, was named as the new chief legal officer of Lenovo, sitting on the executive committee and reporting directly to its CEO. Quatela will remain the majority shareholder of Quatela Lynch McCurdy and will act as a special adviser to the firm on non-conflicting projects.

It is meanwhile worth reminding readers that Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft’s biggest patent troll (with thousands of satellite firms of its own), is imploding, however this extortion and gate-keeping tool, which habitually attacks Linux, still plays a role of in the operations of Linux-based devices (which it taxes).

See this new article that says “a new intellectual property agreement gives Netflix the opportunity to license TiVo’s patent portfolios, as well as patents for over-the-top (OTT) offerings, which are held by Intellectual Ventures.”

How much of that money flows into the pockets of Microsoft and Bill Gates (a stakeholder in the troll at a personal capacity)? It’s hard to tell, but as we noted here before, Microsoft loves Linux patent tax. With China going crazy over patents, Microsoft recently managed to blackmail Xiaomi over its Linux products (we believe that only Huawei remains untainted by this Microsoft tax) and looking into Microsoft’s patent settlement with Xiaomi (they don’t call it a “settlement”, but it is one), IAM writes:

In the opening plenary of the day, featuring Xiaomi’s Paul Lin and Microsoft’s Micky Minhas, the ground-breaking deal announced in May between the two companies was, not surprisingly, the first topic for discussion. IP was a major driver of the agreement, as the Chinese smartphone maker acquired 1,500 patents from the software giant; but the transaction was premised on a much broader collaboration between the pair, with Microsoft applications now set to be included on Xiaomi mobile devices. Minhas, recently appointed as Microsoft’s head of licensing, revealed that the deal had taken a year to unfold after a senior Xiaomi executive had expressed the Chinese’s company’s desire to grow its IP portfolio. He added that one of the key drivers in making it all happen was the relationship between some of the key executives involved in the negotiations. Minhas, Microsoft head of business development Peggy Johnson and Xiaomi’s head of strategic cooperation Wang Xiang, all previously worked at Qualcomm, so there was a level of familiarity; while a face to face meeting between the respective company CEOs in March 2016 largely resolved outstanding issues and advanced the negotiation to the point where it became a matter of getting the contractual terms refined. But what really mattered more than anything, it seems, is that both companies had taken the time to understand each other’s perspectives and needs, and that both were fully focused on finding a win-win outcome. Goodwill, rather than good friendships, are the key to successful IP deal-making. Though, of course, it also helps to get along.

The part about “Microsoft applications now set to be included on Xiaomi mobile devices,” as we explained early in the year, is where patent extortion against Linux comes into play. The ‘new’ Microsoft just tries hard to hide what it does, either attacking Linux through trolls or compelling OEMs to ‘pay’ Microsoft for Linux/Android by shoving Microsoft malware into them (sucking up user data and sending it to Microsoft, never mind vendor lock-in through proprietary formats and code).

Don’t believe Microsoft’s claims that it has changed or that it “loves Linux”. It’s still the same old malicious company. It just learned how to lie/mislead better.

Quite a few GNU/Linux firms and even the Linux Foundation are now being paid by Microsoft (like silence money), so don’t expect them to speak out against this injustice.

Heiko Maas, the SPD “Cash for Access” Affair, and Suspicions of Unwarranted Censorship at IP Kat (Again)

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 01:48:00 PM

Summary: Unsayable views or just a glitch? Readers of IP Kat express concern about a culture of censorship at IP Kat

LAST night we published a caricature about Heiko Maas, whom many inside the EPO accuse of turning a blind eye to the abuses (if no crimes, as per national laws) of Team Battistelli. The growing sentiment against Maas (or mass) inaction can be seen across many spectra, including outside the EPO. Battistelli feels as though he is above the law partly thanks to apathy from Maas et al (deafening silence in spite of many letters and copies of letters).

“Even my defense (from personal attacks) was censored at one point, unlike these attacks.”“Some people at this end,” said a source to us, “have been complaining about failed attempts to post comments on the IP Kat website.”

We too have had such issues and we wrote about the subject several times in the past. Even my defense (from personal attacks) was censored at one point, unlike these attacks.

The comments that are not being suppressed are in no way defamatory. “These comments related to the recent “cash for access” affair surrounding the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) of which Maas is a member,” our source explained to us. “The details of the “cash for access” affair has been widely reported on in the German media recently. A report in English can be found on the website of Deutsche Welle.”

Perhaps the suspicion here is that the silence regarding the EPO — a silence in the German media as well (as we last noted a few days ago) — is part of a broader conspiracy of silence. It’s convenient for Germany not to criticise the EPO because it’s a local cash cow, milked at the expense of the rest of Europe.

“One of the SPD Ministers whose name got mentioned in connection with this affair was the Justice Minister, Heiko Maas,” our source says. “Some satirical postings have also appeared on the Internet poking fun at Maas and his connection to the “cash for access” affair as reported in the media.” We include them at the top and to the right as it’s probably Fair Use (“criticism”).

“It’s convenient for Germany not to criticise the EPO because it’s a local cash cow, milked at the expense of the rest of Europe.”“For some unknown reason,” our source insists, “comments about these matters aren’t making it through the IP Kat comments filter. Is this just a technical glitch or is there some censorship going on behind the scenes?”

IP Kat was at one point censored by the EPO, so maybe it’s just afraid of particular kinds of comments showing up from now on? That would be an example of self-censorship owing to bullying by the EPO. They tried to do this to me.

My experience leaving comments in IP Kat suggests that in the majority of cases my comments won’t show up (even after review), so I’ve altogether quit bothering with it. This unpredictable review policy, in its own right (by virtue of existing), breeds self-censorship among commenters. What’s amazing though is the sheer amount of troll comments that got published there recently, including some inflammatory ones (against EPO staff).

Endgame for Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 01:17:02 PM

Guess Who is Trying to Retroactively ‘Legalise’ His Own Abuses Now…

Summary: Battistelli turns bad into worse by spitting on the very notion of accepting justice (from the highest court in The Hague or even the UN in this case)

THE system in Europe is often assumed to be vastly superior to many of the world’s systems. We used to take pride in the EPO being so much better than the USPTO and, among many things, rejecting software patents. We cannot say this anymore because Battistelli’s role model these days seems to be SIPO in China (where the quality of patents is about as low as it can get, it’s just an assembly line of papers). Battistelli “is boxing out of the corner now,” one reader told us in relation not only to the social issues but also the technical issues (patent maximalism is a disease that keeps spreading to the EPO). Applicants quickly realise that the value of EPs is sinking. Why would they even bother with pricey new applications, let alone renewals? Many of them won't. They’re gradually waking up to the destruction left behind by Battistelli (rushed examination, brain drain, etc.) and the injustices demonstrated by miscarriage of justice not just against clients [sic] but against hundreds if not thousands of EPO employees (approximately/at least a hundred cases in just 2 years, some impacting multiple employees per case).

“Applicants quickly realise that the value of EPs is sinking.”What the EPO does about this "crisis" (in the Board's own words) is the equivalent of shuffling chairs at the deck of the Titanic. Watch what is showing up in today’s news:

The EPO is expected to refuse to record assignments that do not satisfy the foregoing requirements.

Accordingly, we believe that in the future all assignments should be signed by all parties. Regarding the cases where an assignment has been executed but has not been recorded at the EPO, and where the assignment document was only signed by the assignor(s), you may consider obtaining a second signature from a representative of the assignee acknowledging acceptance of the rights. As another alternative, it might be possible for both parties to sign a “confirmatory assignment” to confirm that an assignment that took place on a date prior to the effective date of these new guidelines.

Given the low quality of patents at the EPO (granted in recent years, not the older ones which have not yet expired), putting more barriers and limitations is the last thing that should be on the agenda. Sooner or later, suggest internal figures, the backlog or pile will have dried up, making the Office underworked and rendering thousands of EPO examiners redundant.

Based on the latest decisions from ILO (or ILO-AT), the Office will also have to spend a lot of time and resources on new ‘trials’. This would involve even more people who otherwise should be carrying out their duties as examiners. Look what a sordid mess Battistelli has created. He should resign, but that alone would not solve all the issues.

“Lacking any sense of shame, Battistelli proposes that the Administrative Council, which was supposed to kick him out years ago, should amend the internal law of the EPO relating to not only the Appeals Committee but also lots of other bodies (including the Disciplinary Committees).”Looking at Battistelli’s appalling reaction to these decisions (leaked here yesterday), the lies are beyond amazing. The guy must be crazy and he’s unable to take responsibility. Instead he’s trying to hold unions whom he’s busting accountable. To him, the fact that there was gross injustice for years is the fault of the Central Staff Committee, which was not nominating representatives for the Appeals Committee. Battistelli has publicly (in the Intranet) accused them of “failure to comply with statutory obligations,” in the same way that he defamed various other people or groups in the Intranet as recently as one month ago (we leaked the example about Mr. Prunier).

Lacking any sense of shame, Battistelli proposes that the Administrative Council, which was supposed to kick him out years ago, should amend the internal law of the EPO relating to not only the Appeals Committee but also lots of other bodies (including the Disciplinary Committees). To quote Battistelli, “if the Central Staff Committee, despite an invitation to do so, fails to make appointments to these bodies, the President shall take appropriate steps to ensure and make the necessary appointments, such as calling for volunteers or drawing lots from among eligible staff members.”

“WIPO looks like very small potatoes in comparison to this.”So basically, Battistelli now tries to ‘legalise’ his own abuses after he committed these abuses. How does that not make Eponia a Banana Republic or rogue state way ahead of even Turkey in 2016? The ‘King’ basically places himself above the law, allegedly buys votes, and refuses to accept a simple judgment even from a UN agency (it’s the only tripartite UN agency). WIPO looks like very small potatoes in comparison to this.

To quote (verbatim) what Judgment 3785 actually said on page 6: “While it is true that the fundamental functions of that body must not be paralysed, it is also true that the body itself cannot be changed through a changed composition. The balance sought to be achieved by the composition of this body, which includes members appointed by the Administration and the staff representation, is a fundamental guarantee of its impartiality. That balanced composition is an essential feature underpinning its existence. Without it, it is not the Appeals Committee.”

Les Échos Chamber: Having Corrupted the Media (With EPO Money), Battistelli Now Uses It for More UPC Propaganda

Tuesday 6th of December 2016 12:35:12 PM

EPO chair and budget for personal agenda. Not only Eponia is being ruined by Battistelli but also the integrity of media.


pwn3d by Eponia

Summary: The lies about the Unitary Patent are now being broadcast (Battistelli given the platform) by the publication that Battistelli pays

“SMELLY” behaviour from Battistelli has become so mundane or banal that it usually isn’t worth reporting. It doesn’t merit special attention, but Les Échos is a special case which we wrote about many times before, e.g. in:

“The UPC Scam” series will resume later today and Battistelli’s role in it is clear and is growing.

Here is the latest “blog” post of Battistelli (warning: epo.org link), promoted by the PR people and lying about the prospects of the UPC, as usual. The Liar in Chief took the time to spread UPC misinformation, doing so several days after the very misleading coverage from publications that he bought/paid for directly and less directly. They did this last week, as we mentioned in last week’s articles, and Les Échos too participated in this misleading coverage.

Apparently, one misleading article wasn’t enough as the EPO wants to gets its money’s worth, so now they hand over to the Liar in Chief, again with false predictions (as before, regarding 2016). They are using self-fulfilling prophecies as a method/trick for compelling officials to sell out (wrongly assuming inevitability) and make promises they cannot even commit to (due to constitutional limitations, among other limitations). “Another Mouthpiece EPO Funded Propaganda published by Les Échos,” one EPO insider called it.

Les Échos should be ashamed of itself for being a tool of a vindicative thug, a serial bully, a chronic liar, and the person who is right now the biggest embarrassment to France, according to a growing number of French politicians.

Rumour: EPO in Berlin the Next Casualty of Battistelli’s ‘Reform’ (Organisational Suicide Plan)

Monday 5th of December 2016 11:57:43 PM

Early Certainty from ILO (serving Battistelli the news)

Summary: Months after we learned that a former staff representative in Berlin had been dismissed we come across an anonymous claim that Berlin’s ‘branch’ of the EPO will be folded onto Munich’s

EARLIER THIS year, at around the beginning of September, we repeatedly wrote about claims that Battistelli’s union-busting actions (with bogus accusations and fake trials) had struck Berlin, not just Munich (and thereafter The Hague). It ought to be pretty clear by now, based on the ruling from judges as well, that ‘justice’ does not exist at the EPO; it’s about as legitimate as Turkish courts in 2016 (after a lot of perfectly-legitimate judges were toppled). We’ve carefully read again all the articles about the latest two ILO-AT decisions (it probably takes a lawyer otherwise, in order to understand the ramification for other cases) and we have just noticed that WIPR wrote an article about this almost a week later, following The Register, IP Watch, and Techrights (which was first to report on this).

To quote the article’s first few paragraphs:

The Administrative Tribunal of the International Labour Organization, a UN agency, has set aside two decisions made by the European Patent Office (EPO) and criticised the Administrative Council in the process.

On Wednesday, November 30, the tribunal dismissed the rulings, which had rejected employee challenges to internal rules.

The first decision, judgment number 3785, stemmed from a practice and procedure notice, which concerned the documents that make up European patent applications, issued by the EPO in 2013.

Now that Battistelli shuffles people around in alleged attempts to retaliate (collective punishment), e.g. moving the boards to Vienna, then Haar (not absolutely confirmed yet, except the budget), one should recall what we wrote about Berlin on the first of September, in light of this rumour which says “heard from the Isar building last week that this is exactly what Battistelli has in mind once the “haar-cut” is done: Berlin should be (des)integrated into Munich.”

Can someone confirm? On the right by the way is a photo of EPO staff in Berlin protesting in support of the dismissed staff representatives from Munich, urging Maas to offer support (he never did).

“Officially (usual lullabies) this is to increase efficiency (in reality this is to retaliate on the Berlin sub-office which has refused to submit since the beginning),” the same comment continues.

As we noted here several times before, such relocations can discourage people from staying in their job; some of them have spouses and kids in some job and/or school/kindergarten, respectively. It would be a convenient way to get rid of highly-paid staff without announcing any layoffs. See what happened in the now-understaffed boards.

Caricature: the Maas App

Monday 5th of December 2016 11:27:03 PM

Summary: The failure of Maas to even bother with regulation of Battistelli (among others) earns him this cartoon

Links 5/12/2016: Linux 4.9 RC 8, DeepMind as FOSS

Monday 5th of December 2016 11:19:58 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Eight great Linux gifts for the holiday season

    Do you want to give your techie friend a very Linux holiday season? Sure you do! Here are some suggestion to brighten your favorite Tux fan’s day.

  • More Random Gift Ideas For Linux Enthusiasts & Others Into Tech
  • Which open source gift is at the top of your holiday wish list?
  • 7 Linux predictions for 2017

    Last year I made a set of predictions of events that I thought would happen in the tech world (focused primarily on Linux and free software). I was mostly right. This has emboldened me to make another set of predictions for 2017. I have no inside knowledge on any of these—I am basing this entirely on the twin scientific principles of star maths and wishy thinking.

  • Kernel Space
    • Linux 4.9-rc8

      So if anybody has been following the git tree, it should come as no
      surprise that I ended up doing an rc8 after all: things haven’t been
      bad, but it also hasn’t been the complete quiet that would have made
      me go “no point in doing another week”.

      Extra kudos to Arnd, who actually root-caused the incredibly annoying
      “modversions do not work with new versions of binutils”, bisecting it
      to a particular change to symbol handling in binutils, and then adding
      a small one-liner patch to the kernel to work around the issue. We
      already had other workarounds in place, but it’s always good to know
      exactly what in the tool chain changed to cause things like this.

    • Linux Kernel 4.9 Slated for December 11 Release as Linus Torvalds Outs RC8
    • Linux 4.9-rc8 Kernel Released
    • Linus Torvalds finds 163 reasons to wait a week for a new Linux

      Linus Torvalds told the world that if it wanted a new Linux he needed a quiet week. But he didn’t get it and now the world has an eighth release candidate of Linux 4.9 to consider.

      The Linux Lord’s weekly what’s up with Linux post says “things haven’t been bad, but it also hasn’t been the complete quiet that would have made me go ‘no point in doing another week’.”

    • Linux Foundation’s Blockchain Collective Hyperledger Hits 100 Members

      Hyperledger aims to enable organizations to build robust, industry-specific applications, platforms and hardware systems to support their individual business transactions by creating an enterprise grade, open source distributed ledger framework and code base.

    • The Blockchain Milestone You May Have Missed
    • Sasken becomes member of Automotive Grade Linux

      Sasken Communication Technologies Ltd has announced its membership with Automotive Grade Linux as its bronze member.

      This will enable Sasken to provide solutions to customers on Automotive Grade Linux (AGL). Sasken will provide product development and system integration services for automotive customers spanning in-vehicle infotainment (IVI), instrument cluster, heads-up display and telematics.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Mesa 12.0.4 Promises 15% Performance Boost for Radeon Users on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

        The Mesa problem in Ubuntu Linux is about to be resolved very soon, after the game developers behind the UK-based Feral Interactive video game publishing company urged Canonical to update the software to a most recent version.

        The Mesa 3D Graphics Library is a unique open-source implementation of the OpenGL graphics API for Linux-based operating systems, and it includes drivers for Intel, Radeon, and Nvidia graphics cards. But it looks like Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) was shipping with a pretty old version of Mesa.

      • The Favorite Open-Source Vulkan Projects Of Phoronix Readers
      • Mesa 12.0.5 Released, End Of Road For Mesa 12

        Mesa release manager Emil Velikov announced the availability today of Mesa 12.0.5, just another point release and what he expects will be the last of the Mesa 12.0.x releases.

      • [ANNOUNCE] mesa 12.0.5

        Mesa 12.0.5 is now available.

      • The future of xinput, xmodmap, setxkbmap, xsetwacom and other tools under Wayland

        This post applies to most tools that interface with the X server and change settings in the server, including xinput, xmodmap, setxkbmap, xkbcomp, xrandr, xsetwacom and other tools that start with x. The one word to sum up the future for these tools under Wayland is: “non-functional”.

        An X window manager is little more than an innocent bystander when it comes to anything input-related. Short of handling global shortcuts and intercepting some mouse button presses (to bring the clicked window to the front) there is very little a window manager can do. It’s a separate process to the X server and does not receive most input events and it cannot affect what events are being generated. When it comes to input device configuration, any X client can tell the server to change it – that’s why general debugging tools like xinput work.

      • Please don’t use pastebins in bugs
  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt
      • 7 Things to do After Installing KDE Plasma

        Even for other Linux users, KDE Plasma can seem like a different operating system. Except for a few standards like LibreOffice, the apps are different, and so is the design philosophy, which tends to cram in every possible feature. As a result, once they install, users are likely to wonder what to do next.

      • KDE Framworks 5 Content Snap Techno

        In the previous post on Snapping KDE Applications we looked at the high-level implication and use of the KDE Frameworks 5 content snap to snapcraft snap bundles for binary distribution. Today I want to get a bit more technical and look at the actual building and inner workings of the content snap itself.

        The KDE Frameworks 5 snap is a content snap. Content snaps are really just ordinary snaps that define a content interface. Namely, they expose part or all of their file tree for use by another snap but otherwise can be regular snaps and have their own applications etc.

        KDE Frameworks 5’s snap is special in terms of size and scope. The whole set of KDE Frameworks 5, combined with Qt 5, combined with a large chunk of the graphic stack that is not part of the ubuntu-core snap. All in all just for the Qt5 and KF5 parts we are talking about close to 100 distinct source tarballs that need building to compose the full frameworks stack. KDE is in the fortunate position of already having builds of all these available through KDE neon. This allows us to simply repack existing work into the content snap. This is for the most part just as good as doing everything from scratch, but has the advantage of saving both maintenance effort and build resources.

      • Calligra 3.0 Is Ready As A Qt5 / KDE Frameworks 5 Office Suite

        It’s been quite a while since last having anything to report on the KDE Calligra open-source graphics/office suite while surprisingly this morning it was pleasant to see Calligra 3.0 tagged for release.

      • KDE Applications 16.12 Up to Release Candidate State, Final Arrives December 15

        The KDE development team was proud to announce the availability of the Release Candidate (RC) build of the upcoming KDE Applications 16.12 software suite for the KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment.

        Work on KDE Applications 16.12 started about a month ago, on November 10, when the third and last maintenance update of the current stable KDE Applications 16.08 release was announced, marking the end of life of the series. Until today, KDE Applications 16.12 received a Beta development version, tagged as build 16.11.80, and now we’re seeing the Release Candidate, tagged as build 16.11.90.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • GTK Lands A Big Refactoring Of OpenGL Code

        In addition to Red Hat’s Benjamin Otte working on a Vulkan renderer for GTK4′s GSK, he’s also been working on a big refactoring of the OpenGL code that’s now been merged to master.

        OpenGL is very important for GTK4 as it will play a big role in rendering with GSK. With this “large GL refactoring”, a big clean-up was done of the OpenGL GDK code, affecting the X11, Win32, Wayland, and Mir code too. Some of the specific work includes no longer using buffer-age information, passing the actual OpenGL context, and simplifying the code. More details via this Git commit.

      • A Vulkan Renderer For GNOME’s GTK+ GSK Is In Development

        A Vulkan back-end is in development for GNOME’s GTK’s tool-kit new GTK Scene Kit (GSK) code.

        Benjamin Otte has begun experimenting with a Vulkan back-end for GTK’s GSK code with GTK Scene Kit being one of the big additions in development for the major GTK+ 4.0 milestone. GSK implements a scene graph to allow for more complex graphical control of widgets and other improvements to its graphics pipeline. GSK was merged back in October and currently uses OpenGL for rendering while there is now a branched Vulkan renderer.

      • GNOME loves to cook

        With the upcoming 20th birthday of GNOME next year, some of us thought that we should make another attempt at this application, maybe as a birthday gift to all of GNOME.

        Shortly after GUADEC, I got my hands on some existing designs and started to toy around with implementing them over a few weekends and evenings. The screenshots in this post show how far I got since then.

  • Distributions
    • Linux Top 3: SparkyLinux 4.5, Mageia 5.1 and Peppermint 7

      SparkyLinux is (yet another) Debian based Linux distribution. The SparkyLinux 4.5 update codenamed “Tyche’ was released on December 3, providing users with multiple desktop choice other than GNOME. SparkLinux 4.5 ships with KDE, LXDE, LXQt, MATE and Xfce.

    • Upcoming Linux Distributions Releasing In December 2016

      In December 2016, a big Linux distribution release is taking shape in the form of Linux Mint 18.1 Serena, flavored by Cinnamon 3.2. It’ll be accompanied by the release of security and privacy-focused Anonymous Live CD Tails 2.9.

    • New Releases
      • 4MLinux 20.1 Linux Distro Released with Kernel 4.4.34 LTS to Restore PAE Support

        4MLinux developer Zbigniew Konojacki is happy to inform Softpedia today about the immediate availability of the first point release of the 4MLinux 20 stable series of his independently-developed GNU/Linux distribution.

        4MLinux 20.0 was officially released a month ago, on the first day of November, and it’s currently the most advanced version of the Linux-based operating system, shipping with the long-term supported Linux 4.4 kernel and many recent GNU/Linux technologies and Open Source software applications.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandriva Family
    • OpenSUSE/SUSE
      • openSUSE Leap 42.2 gets 64-bit Raspberry Image

        The latest release from openSUSE has new images available for the Raspberry Pi and joins SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for Raspberry Pi in becoming the initial distributions with 64-bit for the Raspberry Pi 3.

        The 64-bit image of openSUSE Leap 42.2 for the Raspberry Pi 3 has been out for a couple weeks.

        “The ARM and AArch64 Images for openSUSE Leap 42.2 are not a once-only release,” said Dirk Mueller. “They get continuously updated and include fixes as the Leap 42.2 port matures over time. These are the first usable images, and more variants with more fixes will come over time.”

      • OpenSUSE Leap 42.2 Does A 64-bit Spin For The Raspberry Pi 3

        Following SUSE Linux Enterprise Server as being available in a 64-bit edition catered to the Raspberry Pi 3, openSUSE developers have now released a 64-bit image of Leap 42.2 for the RPi3.

      • SUSE Buys HPE’s OpenStack and Cloud Foundry Assets, Talent

        Back in November, the Cloud Foundry Foundation, home of an industry-standard platform for cloud applications, announced that SUSE had increased its engagement and support of Cloud Foundry by becoming a Platinum member.

        Now, SUSE has entered into an agreement with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to acquire technology and talent that will expand SUSE’s OpenStack Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) solution. In addition, the company announced that it will accelerate its entry into the growing Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) market, and said that the acquired OpenStack assets will be integrated into SUSE OpenStack Cloud.

    • Red Hat Family
      • Why Red Hat takes an ‘upstream first’ approach

        Red Hat has been an open source solution provider since 1993 and is 100% open source-focused. Today, the company has more than 80 offices in more than 40 countries around the globe and employs about 10,000 people.

      • Singapore IT Decision Makers Turn to Open Source for Digital Innovation

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the results of a commissioned study by Forrester Consulting, on behalf of Red Hat, about the use of open source in digital innovation initiatives in the Asia Pacific region. The results, highlighted in the study Open Source Drives Digital Innovation revealed that IT decision makers in Singapore are turning to open source to drive better efficiency and digital innovation.

      • Linux Pathshala received Red Hat awards
      • Red Hat OpenStack Platform

        The adoption of OpenStack in production environments has burgeoned, necessitating increased requirements for enhanced management and seamlessly integrated enterprise capabilities.

      • Red Hat’s Paul Smith: Open Source the Basis for Gov’t Digital Transformation

        Paul Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Red Hat‘s (NYSE: RHT) U.S. public sector business, has noted that the government utilizes open source technology as the development model for digital transformation efforts, ExecutiveBiz reported Tuesday.

        “Digital transformation is an unstoppable force as constituents and consumers are demanding more value and a greater user experience,” Smith said Nov. 2 at the 2016 Red Hat Government Symposium in Virginia.

      • Finance
      • Fedora
        • Fedora and GNOME at the Engineering Week of UPIG

          I was invited today to present two Free software projects: GNOME and Fedora at UPIG (Universidad Peruana de Integración Global). They celebrated the event during the whole week the “Engineering Week”. This was the advertisement they used to announce the workshop that last two hours. It was offered free admission with certification fee of s/.25.

        • Fedora 25 review

          Even when dealing with the various Wayland oddities and issues, Fedora 25 is a great distribution. Everything is reasonably polished and the default software provides a functional desktop for those looking for a basic web browsing, e-mail, and word processing environment. The additional packages available can easily turn Fedora into an excellent development workstation customized for a developer’s specific needs. If you are programming in most of the current major programming languages, Fedora provides you the tools to easily do so. Overall, I am very pleased using Fedora 25, but I am even more excited for future releases of Fedora as the various minor Wayland issues get cleaned up.

        • Try Fedora in the cloud for free with Dply

          Fedora 25 is now available on Dply. Dply is a new experimental cloud provider which lets you run an instance for two hours at a time — for free, with no catch. That means that with a few clicks, you can try Fedora 25 from the comfort of your home, school, or coffeeshop.

    • Debian Family
      • My Free Software Activities in November 2016

        This was my ninth month as a paid contributor and I have been paid to work 11 hours on Debian LTS, a project started by Raphaël Hertzog.

      • Derivatives
        • Debian-Based SparkyLinux 4.5 Brings Support for exFAT Filesystems, systemd 232

          The developers of the Debian-based SparkyLinux distribution announced this past weekend the release and immediate availability for download of the SparkyLinux 4.5 operating system.

          SparkyLinux 4.5 comes more than three months after the SparkyLinux 4.4 “Tyche” release and promises to offer users fully updated installation mediums for its KDE, Xfce, LXDE, LXQt, and MATE flavors, which have been synced with the upstream Debian GNU/Linux repositories as of November 29, 2016. The SparkyLinux 4.5 ISO images are powered by Linux kernel 4.8.7.

        • Debian/TeX Live 2016.20161130-1

          As we are moving closer to the Debian release freeze, I am shipping out a new set of packages. Nothing spectacular here, just the regular updates and a security fix that was only reported internally. Add sugar and a few minor bug fixes.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Canonical Releases Snapcraft 2.23 Snap Creator for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and 16.10

            Canonical’s Snappy development team have released a new maintenance version of the Snapcraft 2.x tool that lets applications developers package their apps as Snap packages for Ubuntu and other GNU/Linux distributions that support Snaps.

          • Canonical to sue cloud provider over Ubuntu images

            Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution, has said it plans to sue an European cloud provider for distributing unofficial images of its cloud distribution despite several warnings.

            The company offers certified cloud images of Ubuntu that are guaranteed to run on specific cloud platforms such as AWS, Azure or Google.

            Performance is optimised and integrated with underlying cloud requirements, with input from the host’s cloud engineers.

          • Pico-ITX SBC runs Ubuntu on Braswell

            DFI announced an Intel Braswell based “BW051” Pico-ITX SBC with up to 8GB DDR3L, mini-PCIe, SATA 3.0, mSATA, and Linux support.

            DFI, which earlier this year tapped Intel’s “Braswell” generation of SoCs for its BW968 COM Express Compact Type 6 module, has now chosen Braswell for a Pico-ITX SBC. The 100 x 72mm BW051 ships with 4-6W Braswell processors including dual or quad-core Celeron models, the quad-core 1.6GHz Pentium N3710, and quad-core, 1.04GHz Atom x5-E8000.

          • Must have Ubuntu Packages

            For most people, any default Ubuntu installation will meet their needs. Ubuntu provides users with Web browsing, email, along with various communication tools right out of the box. Heck, even basic backups are provided…although you must take the time to configure it.

            Putting all of that aside for a moment, let’s consider which “must have Ubuntu packages” aren’t included by default. In this article, I’ll share my top list of must have Ubuntu packages and explain why I rely on each of them.

          • Canonical yells at European cloud provider

            Open saucy outfit Canonical is in the middle of a legal dispute with an unnamed “a European cloud provider” over the use of its own homespun version of Ubuntu on their cloud servers.

            Canonical is worried that the implementation disables even the most basic of security features and Canonical fears that when something bad happens, the great unwashed will not blame the cloud provider but will instead blame Ubuntu.

            Writing in the company bog, Canonical said that it has spent months trying to get the unnamed provider to use the standard Ubuntu as delivered to other commercial operations to no avail. It said that Red Hat and Microsoft wouldn’t be treated like this.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • Ubuntu-Based ExTiX OS Updated for Intel Compute Sticks with Improved Installer

              GNU/Linux developer Arne Exton announced this past weekend the release of an updated build of his Ubuntu-based ExTiX Linux distribution for Intel Compute Stick devices.

              Last month, we reported on the initial availability of a port of the ExTiX operating system for Intel Compute Sticks, boasting the lightweight and modern LXQt 0.10.0 desktop environment and powered by the latest Linux 4.8 kernel, tweaked by Arne Exton for Intel Atom processors.

              And now, ExTiX Build 161203 is out as a drop-in replacement for Build 161119, bringing a much-improved Ubiquity graphics installer that should no longer crash, as several users who attempted to install the Ubuntu-based GNU/Linux distro on their Intel Compute Stick devices reported.

            • Should Linux Mint be discontinued?

              Linux Mint has been quite popular with many users for a very long time. But changes to Linux Mint in recent years have one redditor wondering exactly what the point of using it is these days. Distributions like Fedora, Ubuntu and others have also stolen some of Linux Mint’s thunder with notable improvements and popular spins.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source Leftovers
  • Health/Nutrition
  • Security
  • Defence/Aggression
    • 20 houses of Hindus set on fire in Bangladesh

      At least 20 houses of Hindus were set on fire in Bochaganj upazila of Dinajpur in Bangladesh early Saturday.

      A report published in The Daily Star said that houses of seven families of Hindus were set on fire in Railway Colony.

      Fortunately, no one was injured as residents managed to escape on time.

      A person named Jewel was held by the locals, who allegedly set the fire.

    • Exclusive: WikiLeaks documents highlight sinister relations between Erdogan and ISIS

      The connection of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan΄s family with the oil smuggling of the “Islamic State” is revealed after Wikileaks΄ revealing of emails from the Turkish energy minister, and Erdoğan΄s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak. Albayrak΄s emails seem to confirm the not-so-recent accusations, since the energy minister is appealing to be the “unofficial” owner of the oil company Powertrance which is importing oil from the Isis΄ land in Northern Irak to Turkey.

    • 5 Bizarre Groups That Run Entire Foreign Countries

      Nippon Kaigi is an ultra-nationalist group whose members believe the Japanese are a superior race. They want to alter Japan’s history — like denying the rape and pillage of Nanjing, an onslaught with an estimated 200,000 Chinese victims. And they want to change the constitution, scrapping Japan’s pacifist policies, getting rid of foreigners, keeping women at home, bringing back corporal punishment, and generally doing away with a whole bunch of basic human rights, like freedom of speech.

      That headline about how Japan’s PM likes Trump makes a bit more sense now, doesn’t it?

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Police “legally mug” gang boss to grab unlocked iPhone

      The Metropolitan Police have debuted a new tactic to beat Apple’s iPhone encryption—by mugging a suspect while he was making a call and then keeping the screen alive while they downloaded all the data from the phone.

      The technique, which bears all the hallmarks of a real mugging, is apparently legal and seems set to be adopted as a standard means of gathering evidence from devices that might otherwise be locked to investigators.

      The evidence gathered from the tactic helped jail five men involved in a major fake credit card operation. Officers from Operation Falcon, the specialist London unit tackling major fraud and other related online crime, seized the phone from one of the ringleaders, Gabriel Yew, whose gang were suspected of manufacturing false bank and credit cards and using them across mainland Europe to buy luxury goods.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • Federal Officials to Explore Different Route for Dakota Pipeline

      Federal officials announced on Sunday that they would not approve permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a dammed section of the Missouri River that tribes say sits near sacred burial sites.

      The decision is a victory for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of protesters camped near the construction site who have opposed the project because they said would it threaten a water source and cultural sites. Federal officials had given the protesters until tomorrow to leave a campsite near the construction site.

      In a statement on Sunday, the Department of the Army’s assistant secretary for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, said that the decision was based on a need to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.

      “Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Ms. Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

    • Nigeria and Morocco Sign Gas Pipeline Deal to Link Africa to Europe

      Nigeria and Morocco have signed a joint venture to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations as well as some other African countries to Europe, Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs said on Saturday.

      The agreement was reached during a visit by the Morocco’s King Mohammed to the Nigerian capital Abuja, Geoffrey Onyema, the minister, said, adding that the pipeline project would be designed with the participation of all stakeholders.

    • Sanders sings Obama’s praises for stopping Dakota pipeline

      Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders applauded President Obama Sunday evening for halting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

      Sanders, who has been an outspoken opponent of the pipeline, shared his message on Facebook.

      “I appreciate very much President Obama listening to the Native American people and millions of others who believe this pipeline should not be built,” the post read.

      “In the year 2016, we should not continue to trample on Native American sovereignty. We should not endanger the water supply of millions of people. We should not become more dependent on fossil fuel and accelerate the planetary crisis of climate change. Our job now is to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels, not to produce more greenhouse gas emissions.”

    • Sadiq Khan to spend £770m on London cycling initiatives

      London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has promised to spend £770m on cycling initiatives over the course of his term, saying he wants to make riding a bike the “safe and obvious” transport choice for all Londoners.

      Following criticism that Khan has not been as bold as his predecessor, Boris Johnson, in committing to new bike routes, and amid increasing worries about air quality in London, Khan’s office has set out what is described as a hugely ambitious programme to boost cyclist numbers.

      The proposed spending of about £17 per person per year gets near the levels seen in cycle-friendly nations such as the Netherlands and Denmark.

      Among the plans are proposals for two new cycle superhighways, routes on which riders are largely separated from motor traffic by kerbs and dedicated traffic lights, the first of which were built under Johnson and have proved hugely popular.

  • Finance
    • Trump’s pick to lead Treasury tried to kick woman out of her house over 27 cents

      Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s pick to lead the Treasury, worked for Goldman Sachs for 20 years. In 2008 Munchin and his partners founded a bank (funded in part by George Soros) that tried to evict a 90-year-old woman from her home because she underpaid a bill by 27 cents.

    • India’s Modi Defends Clampdown on Cash Economy

      Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday defended his crackdown on the cash economy that has left businesses, farmers and families suffering, saying it was necessary to keep inflation in check and ensure basic amenities for all.

      Modi’s decision last month to scrap 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee banknotes as part of a crackdown on tax dodgers and counterfeiters has caused a currency crunch in a country where most people are paid in cash and buy what they need with cash.

      With a small stock of smaller notes available and new bills of 500 and 2,000 rupee in short supply, Indians are being forced to stand in queues outside banks and cash machines to change their old notes.

    • More farmers going bankrupt

      Eero Vilokki from Kiuruvesi in central Finland lost his family dairy farm after declaring bankruptcy in June when the derivative interest rates his bank suggested on his loans grew impossible to pay. He was kicked off his family farmstead by the new owners in late August.

      The locks on the buildings were changed the very same day.

      “My workers’ belongings and computers, along with my clothing and possessions, were all left behind. All I had was the work clothes on my back. No one bothered to ask if I had a place to stay or food,” Vilokki told Yle.

      Before Vilokki was forced to leave, the farm had been transferred to a company with four equal owners. The value of the farm was estimated at 400,000 euros, with an additional 151,000 euros added on for the property’s office space. The farm’s forest property was valued at 24,000 euros.

      “It was highway robbery. The forest land alone was worth 178,000 euros,” Vilokki said.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • Austria rejects far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in presidential election

      Austria has decisively rejected the possibility of the European Union getting its first far-right head of state, instead electing a former leader of the Green party who said he would be an “open-minded, liberal-minded and above all a pro-European president”.

      Alexander Van der Bellen, who ran as an independent, increased his lead over the far-right Freedom party candidate, Norbert Hofer, by a considerable margin from the original vote in May, which was annulled by the constitutional vote due to voting irregularities.

    • Bernie Sanders: Trump didn’t win the election, the Democrats lost it

      “I look at this election not as a victory for Mr. Trump, who wins the election as the most unpopular candidate in perhaps the history of our country, but as a loss for the Democratic Party.” -Senator Bernie Sanders, speaking to a sold-out crowd in San Rafael, CA.

    • The Democratic Party has Tuned Out the Jihad… if it Ever Tuned it in to Begin With

      Or, to be more precise, for many Americans it did not really happen because they simply don’t care about Islamic theological violence against their fellow Americans. The reason that many Americans, particularly of the progressive variety, tend not to care about this kind of violence is because to do so is considered “racist” by president Obama, the leadership of the Democratic Party, and the elite media.

      Koranically-based attacks on innocent Americans are, therefore, perceived like the weather. A typhoon or a flood or an earthquake may happen now and again, but what can you do? You cannot dwell on such things. They are simply “acts of God” and there is very little to be done or said, for most of us, beyond, “Gee, how unlucky.”

    • Jury finds Brandon Hall guilty of election fraud

      It took less than an hour Wednesday for a jury to convict political activist Brandon Michael Hall on 10 counts of election law fraud, following a day-and-a-half trial in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

      According to the Grand Haven Tribune, the 27-year-old Grand Haven resident, author of the West Michigan Politics blog and self-admitted political junkie, said the verdict wasn’t a surprise.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • The war on ‘fake news’ is all about censoring real news

      Scrambling for an explanation for Donald Trump’s victory, many in the media and on the left have settled on the idea that his supporters were consumers of “fake news” — gullible rubes living in an alternate reality made Trump president.

      To be sure, there is such a thing as actual fake news: Made-up stories built to get Facebook traction before they can be debunked. But that’s not what’s really going on here.

      What the left is trying to do is designate anything outside its ideological bubble as suspect on its face.

    • Academic witch hunts are back: The new McCarthyism, a sign of the stupidity of the post-truth era

      In late November three blocks from the White House, a group of leaders from the so-called alt-right, who many consider to simply be white supremacists, gathered for an annual conference called the National Policy Institute. Their goal was to discuss and debate the opportunities offered by a Donald Trump presidency for their white nationalist plans. In the wake of a rise in hate crimes, the meeting sent a chill throughout the nation.

      But making America whiter “again” is not the only thing we need to fear with a Trump administration. Only two days after the alt-right convention in D.C., Turning Point USA launched Professor Watchlist, a website designed to call out college professors who “discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”

    • The UK government’s latest deluded idea: ‘banning’ underage sexting on social media

      When the UK government is not busy looking for ways to invade internet users’ privacy, it’s looking for ways to restrict what they are able to do online — particularly when it comes to things of a sexual nature.

      The health secretary Jeremy Hunt has made calls for technology companies and social media to do more to tackle the problems of cyberbullying, online intimidation and — rather specifically — under-18-year-olds texting sexually explicit images. Of course, he doesn’t have the slightest idea about how to go about tackling these problems, but he has expressed his concern so that, in conjunction with passing this buck to tech companies, should be enough, right?

    • Defriend everyone on Facebook if you really want to see the world as it is

      Messing around on Facebook recently, I was appalled to see a man I used to work with gleefully posting about Trump’s election win. I went through a mixture of emotions. First, there was the shock that I had allowed myself to be friends with such a man, because my capacity to make everything about me is impressive, even for a comedian. Second, I couldn’t believe that he could have the temerity to post something that disagreed with what we had all agreed on Facebook was “The Official Viewpoint”. Third, I realised that I probably shouldn’t be on Facebook at my wife’s birthday dinner.

      What I should have done was thank him. It was the first time in ages that I had felt anything approaching an emotion on Facebook. Because I’ve only made friends with people who think like me, my newsfeed is nothing but the sound of people high-fiving each other for having the same opinion. It isn’t even an echo chamber. I am basically part of a Borg hive, speaking in unison on everything. If anyone disagreed with me, I would send them to unfriend exile, as if I were running some sort of Facebook North Korea, or Trump’s America.

    • In these turbulent times, take a break from social media to find comfort

      Five days after the election of Donald Trump, I stood in line at the airport wanting to kill time. I glanced at Twitter on my phone, almost by instinct, to snuff out a momentary feeling of boredom. What greeted me shouldn’t have been a surprise, given what I had read all week: a steady stream of hate promised, chronicled, photographed as it was unleashed throughout America, filled my timeline.

      As the plane began its taxi, my mind spiraled down an abyss of dark thoughts. Was the America I knew, loved, and once lived in, now a place I should viscerally fear? Would I witness this hate firsthand? Would I walk by unsettling graffiti, or feel the string of racism shouted as I spoke in front of crowds of strangers? My stomach churned as the plane climbed, and when the seatbelt sign turned off, I had to lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes, taking deep breaths to stop my whole body from shaking.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • UK Police Circumventing Cellphone Encryption By ‘Mugging’ Suspects While Their Phones Are Unlocked

      So, it’s come to this: lawful mugging. Still, it’s not a terrible solution to the problem. Sometimes the best methods are lo-tech, as anyone swinging a $5 Password Acquisition Tool can tell you.

      This method will work in the UK. It may not in the US. UK law enforcement would likely find compelling a suspect to unlock a device a long and possibly fruitless endeavor, but there’s no Riley decision standing in the way of seizing/searching phones on the hoof (as it were).

      Courts here in the US have interpreted the Supreme Court’s Riley decision in diverse ways, but a motion to suppress evidence might succeed if US law enforcement began engaging in this novel form of encryption circumvention. In one case, a judge found that simply opening a flip phone constituted a search under Riley. Keeping a phone “alive” until evidence can be retrieved from it might run afoul of the Fourth Amendment, even if the seizure itself is completely lawful.

      It’s still a better idea than making encryption backdoors mandatory or requiring device manufacturers to make a second set of keys for the government. The solution isn’t elegant but it works. And it will only work in certain circumstances, so there’s not much potential for abuse. It might encourage rougher arrests than usual, if only to separate the cellphone from the suspect, but the small number of arrests where this process would work shouldn’t result in a sharp uptick in excessive force deployment.

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Amazombies: Seven seconds to find an item, every move filmed and blistering 12-hours shifts with timed toilet breaks… what YOUR Christmas order does to your ‘worker elves’

      Amazon was last night accused of ‘dehumanising’ its staff battling to deliver gifts to millions of customers in time for Christmas.

      Workers at the internet shopping giant’s distribution centres face disciplinary action if they lose a punishing race against the clock to track down items ordered by online shoppers.

    • Enclaves of Islam see UK as 75% Muslim

      Britain is an Islamic country where the majority of people share their faith, according to a report to be published this week.

      Evidence gathered by Dame Louise Casey, the government’s community cohesion tsar, will lift the lid on how some Muslims are cut off from the rest of Britain with their own housing estates, schools and television channels.

    • Three surprising ways to challenge violence against women

      It’s been more than 20 years since the UN General Assembly committed to eradicating violence against women. Yet today, it’s estimated that one in three women has experienced some form of sexual or physical violence, often at the hands of an intimate partner. This apparent lack of progress doesn’t mean, though, that people aren’t trying to do something about it – sometimes by pretty creative means.

    • Female Genital Mutilation in Pakistan

      World Health Organization defines Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as “procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” FGM is classified into four types. Clitoridectomy includes partial or total removal of the clitoris. 85% of the FGM procedures are of this type. The second type is excision which is performed to partially or totally remove the clitoris or the labia minora (inner folds of vulva). Infibulation, the third type, refers to the narrowing of the vaginal opening through the creation of a covering seal. The fourth type can include other harmful procedures like piercing, pricking, scraping, incising or cauterizing. More than 200 million girls across the world have undergone the torturous plight of having their genitals sewn up, removed or mutilated.

      The humiliating practice of FGM is carried out in 30 countries of Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is rampant. The migrants from these regions take along their belief-systems, family rituals and customs to their new settlements and influence other people from their communities to practice the same. Many a religious heads, doctors, community leaders and other medically-trained professionals facilitate this oppressive custom either by indulging in genital-cutting or by sanctifying its prevalence. FGM manifests itself in regressive religious practices, community cultures and traditions. The procedural circumcision which is seen as a coming of age custom for a girl in many cultural rituals incurs life-threatening harm to the girl’s body on which it is performed, putting her at a risk of multiple health-hazards and psychological ill-effects. In religious terms, the practice is performed as a mark of entry for a girl-child from childhood to adulthood.

    • “Eliminating FGM is an essential step to realizing other SDGs”—Lakshmi Puri

      Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is one of the most serious violations of human rights of women and girls and no amount of sophistry by its proponents and apologists can change that.

      In 2015, 194 countries at the highest level of government at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit have declared that it must be eliminated and that it’s a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target. So that’s final!

    • The Plot to Sideline Gambia’s First Female Presidential Candidate

      In early September, Gambian feminist activist Isatou Touray stood before a crowd of reporters in the seaside town of Kololi and chastised the administration of President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled over Gambia with an iron fist since he took power through a bloodless coup in 1994. Touray accused Jammeh of pilfering the country’s natural resources for his own benefit, purposely failing to uphold the rule of law and delegating power to a small and exclusive circle of corrupt men.

      Then she declared her plans to push him out of office in the December 1 presidential election by running for his seat herself. “It is time for him to leave,” she said.

    • The Lesson from Standing Rock: Organizing and Resistance Can Win

      Less than two hours earlier, news came that the Army Corps of Engineers had turned down the permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be built under the Missouri River. The company will have to find an alternate route and undergo a lengthy environmental assessment.

      Ever since, the network of camps now housing thousands of water protectors has been in the throes of (cautious) celebration and giving thanks, from cheers to processions to round dances. Here, at the family home of Standing Rock Tribal Councilman Cody Two Bears, friends and family members who have been at the center of the struggle are starting to gather for a more private celebration.

      Which is why the dishes must be done. And the soup must be cooked. And the Facetime calls must be made to stalwart supporters, from Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox to environmental icon Erin Brockovich. And the Facebook live videos must, of course, be made. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard—here as part of a delegation of thousands of anti-pipeline veterans—is on her way over. (“Exhilarated,” is how she says she feels when she arrives.) CNN must, of course, be watched, which to the amazement of everyone here gives full credit to the water protectors (while calling them “protesters”).

    • Analysis: The Assange case in the context of Sweden’s feminist foreign policy for international trade gains

      A previous analysis concluded that Sweden most likely would persist in neither undertaking nor recognizing the international criticism for its rejection of the UN conclusion regarding the arbitrary detention of Mr Julian Assange [See UNGWAD full document in Appendix 1]. That is to say, it will not do so at least in the nearest future.

      Further, the article hypothesizes that –in the eventuality of a positive intervention by the upcoming Trump administration regarding the case Assange – from the Swedish side the case will be likely used as a tool in a bargain including issues of economic interest, support by the US towards Swedish stances in the Security Council (as publicly anticipated by foreign minister Margot Wallström) [1] and other items already put forward by the letter of PM Stefan Löfven to President-elect Donald Trump. [2]

    • Mistrial in murder case against cop who shot Walter Scott

      A South Carolina judge declared a mistrial Monday after jurors said they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case of a white former North Charleston police officer charged with murder in the death of black motorist Walter Scott.

      The mistrial came just a few hours after Circuit Judge Clifton Newman had ordered jurors to continue deliberating. But the jurors reported later that they were hopelessly unable to reach a unanimous consensus, the Associated Press and CNN reported. The jury had deliberated about 22 hours over four days.

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • WIPO Committee On Traditional Knowledge Agrees On Revised Text For Further Discussions

      World Intellectual Property Organization delegates last week agreed on a revised set of draft articles to be further discussed at the next session of the committee working on a potential treaty to protect traditional knowledge. Views differed on the achievements of the week. For the proponents of a binding treaty, the text reflects a better understanding of issues, and some reduction in differences. However, for some developed countries not in favour of a treaty, gaps are still wide open and much work remains.

    • Will The Voice Of Indigenous Peoples Disappear From WIPO Discussions To Protect Their Knowledge?

      What would be the credibility of the World Intellectual Property Organization committee negotiating a system of protection for traditional knowledge held by indigenous peoples, if none of their representatives could participate in the meetings? That has been a recurring question asked by indigenous peoples and the organisation over the years. But now, if no voluntary contributions are made by governments or others, the next committee meeting could very well be first in 16 years held without a single observer from an indigenous community.

    • Copyrights
      • Every Website Needs To Re-register With The Copyright Office, Who Can’t Build A Functioning System

        As we mentioned last month, the Copyright Office — despite being warned this was a bad idea — has decided to implement a brand new system for websites to register DMCA agents, and has done so in a way that will undoubtedly fuck over many websites. It’s already ridiculous enough that in order to be fully protected under the DMCA’s safe harbor rules (that say you’re not liable if someone posts infringing material to your website), you need to register a designated “DMCA agent” with the Copyright Office. The idea behind this is that by registering an agent, copyright holders will be able to look up who to send a takedown notice to. And, sure, that makes sense, but remember that this is the same Copyright Office that supports not requiring copyright holders to register their works, meaning that there may not be any legitimate way to contact copyright holders back.

        The reason for the new system is that the old system was just ridiculous — on that everyone can agree. You had to fill out a paper form, sign it, and send it in. The Copyright Office has been way behind on digitizing everything, so moving to a web based system is a good thing. Also, the old system required payment of over $100, while the new one is just $6. That’s all good. The problem is twofold: first, the Copyright Office has said that it is throwing out all the old registrations, and if you want to retain your safe harbors, you need to re-register. There’s a grace period through the end of next year, but plenty of sites who don’t follow the Copyright Office’s every move are going to miss this, and will no longer have an officially registered agent with the Copyright Office (it’s possible that, should this issue go to court, a platform could reasonably argue that it still did meet the statutory requirements in the original registration, but why force site owners through that hoop in the first place). The second problem, is that this new system will toss out records every three years, so if you forget to renew, you once again can lose your legal safe harbors. This puts tons of websites at serious risk, removing key protections and opening them up to lawsuits from copyright trolls.

Leaked: Battistelli Acknowledges Bunk ‘Justice’ in About 100 Cases at the Internal Appeals Committee of the EPO

Monday 5th of December 2016 12:55:38 PM

‘Damage control’ from the most damaging (to the EPO) President ever!


Click for large version

Summary: A look at Battistelli’s response to the latest from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), exceptionally delivering two decisions at the very end of last month

THE ILOAT recently slammed (albeit politely) the Internal Appeals Committee of the EPO. It has been a sham for a long time, the Tribunal found. This means there was no Rule of Law or justice (no functional access to real justice) at the EPO under Battistelli. Presidential decrees and legal harassment/bullying by the President turned the Office into a laughing stock all across Europe and even the world.

As expected, late on a Friday (the usual) Battistelli responded with more of the usual lies and hogwash. The EPO is experiencing a post-truth era, so why not again? The response can be seen at the top. But it’s all wrong.

Note that in July of this year the EPO, in Judgment No. 3694, was already reminded of the importance of a properly-formed Internal Appeals Committee. The present formation of the Appeals Committee, with the two “volunteer” Staff Representatives, was preceded by a short period where there were no Staff Representatives on the Committee at all. In Judgment No. 3694 [PDF] the ILOAT sent a case complaining about that arrangement back to the EPO “so that the Appeals Committee, composed in accordance with the applicable rules, may examine the appeal.”

Here is some background from the CSC side — a publication from 2014 (four pages).

It’s not too hard to see why the EPO feels as though needs to lie again. It got caught in a scandal — one in which cyclical lies are essential (like the Watergate Scandal). When asked for its response by IP Watch, which wrote an article on the subject, “The European Patent Office has emailed some gobbledygook in response to the article of IP-Watch,” as one person put it.

Earlier today we wrote about the quarrels Battistelli has with French politicians and the latest comments in The Register further reinforce the observation that Battistelli tarnishes the image of France. One person even called it “typical French behaviour” and alleged something to that effect; “I would say Battistelli is a typical Frenchman,” the comment says, “arrogant, does not listen to critique, believes he is superior to the rest of the world. France in a nutshell.”

A new comment in IP Kat says, “according to my info Battistelli also left the office of the German Minister Heiko Mass, with a “connard” (loud enough to be heard by the Minister Maas who speaks FR) – he also clashed with the NL state secretary, with the head of USIPO and JPIPO. to be continued…. Hey bro’ who’s the boss in da EPO ?”

“Let’s hope the AC delegates act before it is too late.”
      –AnonymousA tongue-in-cheek comment said: “Currently being rolled out in the EPO is a PRISMA information security policy, it is not about information theft prevention but information manipulation on a scale never seen before! … BB’s chiefs, HR and the IU are taking key positions and use information control tactics to gain ultimate control over Eponia and any opposition. Let’s hope the AC delegates act before it is too late.”

Look what has become of what used to be the pride of Europe. Time for Battistelli to resign rather than continue his charade of lying and finger-pointing.

The UPC Scam Part V: Unitary Patent Regime a Fantasy of Patent Trolls

Monday 5th of December 2016 11:58:01 AM

Summary: “Good for trolls” is a good way to sum up the Unitary Patent, which would give litigators plenty of business (defendants and plaintiffs, plus commissions on high claims of damages) if it ever became a reality

TODAY marks exactly one week since the bizarre statement from the British government, which enjoyed misleading coverage bought/paid for directly and less directly by Battistelli’s EPO.

In the previous four parts we explained the reality of the situation and in upcoming parts we’ll explain why the UPC is still going nowhere — consistent with what we have been saying for a number of years. Some words on a Web page of the British government are not enough to make the impossible (or barely possible) magically attainable.

It’s worth reminding readers that the legal firm which the EPO unleashed at us for legal threats (in an effort to silence us) is itself part of the UPC's advocacy, which comes to show just how crooked things really are. Basically, a bunch of law firms are attempting to hijack the European patent system by means of endless lobbying, lies, fake (or biased) 'news', and fake job ads (for jobs that don't exist). These are some truly malicious actors. Morals don’t exist because they have a mission and they are willing to combat opponents. Our activism is largely reactionary.

Who is the UPC good for other than some legal firms? “Good news for patent trolls,” said this comment, possibly from Mr. Benjamin Henrion (FFII) by the sound of it.

Several days ago Patently-O wrote about last week’s news, noting that “Europe may overtake the US as patent-litigation-central” if the UPC becomes a reality. Another way to put it is, Europe can become a patent trolls’ hub, complete with software patents and everything they currently enjoy in the US (where they file the lion’s share of lawsuits). The Unitary Patent fantasists include those who can either represent these trolls in court or represent their victims (defendants). What’s not to like, eh?

Earlier today we noted that Microsoft agenda was interjected into an event that’s supposed to be about “International Women’s Leadership Forum” (here is the report about it). Well, Microsoft and even the UPC were interjected into this event. The latter subject was mentioned by “Deanna Kwong of Hewlett Packard Enterprise,” who said that the UPC “will be “fertile ground” for NPEs,” i.e. patent trolls (NPE is a euphemism).

Even MIP took note of it, writing in Twitter: “Consensus at #EUPatentUSA2016 that UPC system will attract troll-type activity – IT/TMT panel with @marksandclerk pic.twitter.com/2cbvgnBeSl”

Henrion replied with “oh really? what a surprise!”

We have been warning about this for years.

Here is the relevant part of the report from MIP:

The last six months (since the UK Brexit vote) have led to great uncertainty for Europe’s planned Unitary Patent and UPC system, said Bethan Hopewell of Powell Gilbert. But much progress has been made with 11 ratifications so far and much work on the IT system, the Rules of Procedure and the financing.

The latest news, she added, is yesterday’s announcement by the UK government that it will proceed with ratification of the UPC Agreement. “What needs to be worked on now is establishing certainty for industry so that the UPC is not undermined when the UK leaves the EU,” she said, adding that the UK’s role in the system post-Brexit remains to be seen.

Deanna Kwong of Hewlett Packard Enterprise said that despite the progress made there remains a lot of “uncertainty”: “I don’t know whether it will be a more favourable forum or not … at the outset it may be a more plaintiff-friendly forum to legitimate it as a forum.” Hopewell predicted it will be “fertile ground” for NPEs in the early years.

Kwong highlighted some differences between the UPC and the US system, including less emphasis on expert evidence, faster injunctions and the possibility to amend claims. “Fee shifting is a really big factor – hopefully that will be a counter-balance to the patentee-friendly aspects of the UPC,” she added.

It seems like both Henrion and I noticed this at the same time. HP is admitting that the UPC would be good for patent trolls. Remember all those who used to deny it and mocked those who even dared to suggest so?

“HP says EU Unitary Patent Court will fuel trolls,” Henrion later wrote.

“This is what patent prosecution & litigation in Europe will look like post-UPC,” MIP added, “says Bethan Hopewell of Powell Gilbert at #ipwomen Forum pic.twitter.com/NXxNaFgAuu”

Yes, “prosecution & litigation”…

Not innovation.

Not sharing.

Not competitiveness.

Remember… “prosecution & litigation”…

That’s all it boils down to and no wonder prosecutors and litigators are lobbying so hard for it. They want ‘nuclear’ legal wars to profit from. It’s obvious at whose expense.

EPO at a Tipping Point: Battistelli Quarrelling With French Politicians, Administrative Council Urged to Act, Staff Unrest Peaking

Monday 5th of December 2016 08:32:16 AM

No career fallback with Nicolas Sarkozy, either

Summary: The latest messages about Battistelli’s regime at the EPO, which faces growing opposition from more directions than ever before

THE EPO seems to be reaching another tipping point, where not only ILO and politicians take the side of EPO staff but a lot of the British media too (definitely not the German media, which seems to enjoy the EPO as a local cash cow). Even a British mouthpiece of the EPO gave a platform to an EPO staff representative a couple of weeks ago. To quote this recent comment, “Mr Prunier’s post on IAM blog : http://www.iam-media.com/blog/Detail.aspx?g=2141acfb-0254-48ab-a380-31fee0da7f97″

Another new comment says that a “reply from the [French] secretary for industry reveals he has even contacted BB to express his discontent.”

The “President of the EPO simply insults the Minister for Industry (responsible for patents in France),” wrote the following comment in reply. Certainly not a way to make friends and allies:

Phillips Cordery was present at the latest demonstration in The Hague. He gave some details in his speech. Christophe Sirugue (Minister for Industry) indeed talked to Battistelli about the social situation. Battistelli answered that he did not care about his opinion.

I could not believe my hears in that demo: there was a MP, talking in public, and announcing that the President of the EPO simply insults the Minister for Industry (responsible for patents in France). But ask anyone present and they will tell you.

What is even more worrying is that Battistelli is probably right. He IS indeed more powerful than a French Minister (or a German, English, Swiss… etc). He has immunity and nobody can do a thing against him.

Phillips Cordery (mentioned above) is the latest among several French politicians who call Battistelli an embarrassment/humiliation/"disgrace"/"damaging to the image of France".

“Tragedy hangs in the air,” said another comment, as “further dismissals ring out.” Well, Battistelli and Bergot have more in the pipeline, but can the Administrative Council or outside intervention put an end to it? Here is the full comment:

It is chilly in the EPO. It is the chill of a fanaticism that has enveloped itself in a harness of principles. Tragedy hangs in the air, further dismissals ring out. A political statement, the scandal of which reverberated far into Europe. BB’s response sounds hollow and hypocritical, ‘No one can escape his duty!’

“Even examiner team managers are showing opposition to the regime” of Battistelli, said the following comment, reinforcing what we heard before (even some Directors join the protests). Here is the comment in its full glory:

Very chilly indeed. Even examiner team managers are showing opposition to the regime: they ignore duties when it comes to completing their examining/oppo duties within the official timescales. The ILO is now pointing at total meltdown. Europe and its innovators deserve much better than this clapped out Enarquien despot. Clean sweep, please.

Perhaps optimistic about the morals of a chinchillas killer, one person believes that the Administrative Council, well paid (or strategically gifted) by Battistelli, will dismiss him:

Why the AC will not dismiss BB?

Because the AC is deeply divided. The AC members from the south – south of France, that is – and from the East – east of Germany, that is – do not care about the internal reputation of BB. Authority and hierarchy are good. And for each and every decision that is even a little bit out of their mandate, they have to Phone home.

At least one of the AC members from some other countries – a rather small country, one of the founders – is rumoured to be very vocal against BB.

But with a divided AC, BB – at the ENA well prepared for politics – will win. The earliest moment BB will leave is with an UMP president in France, probably provided he currently support that candidate (oops, missed the debate tonight…)

The AC wanted someone to put the examiners back to work, work a little harder and pick up files within one to two years after the last letter from the patent attorney – rather than sometimes over six years. The AC made a pact with the devil. The rest is history…

“It’s the end of the EPO as we know it,” another person wrote, “but I feel fine, I’ve got my design.”

Going further back in the comments (over a fortnight backwards), there are many comments which we deem “trolling” or intentionally provocative. We don’t want to draw attention to these as that would only encourage them. Here is one among many responses to such comments:

@ Dry Tears
Why is it that the board members get critisised when they haven’t done anything wrong, unlike the senior management and the Admin Counc who escape your censure. Whose side are you on?

@ the anonymous “Anonymous”
Have you read Merpel’s blog entry? Who is to blame for this mess? The board member you want to see dismissed? Shall we now start dismisssing judges who don’t conform? Why don’t you have a go at getting disciplinary proceedings going against the alleged “enemies of the people” in the UK? Yes, that is the sorry road we all seem to be going down, whether we want to or not.

“Battistelli and his minions have seemingly being drip-feeding information to the press,” noted another person on defaming of the accused board member. Here is the full comment which is actually quite informative:

Also worth reiterating is the fact that, while the suspended Board member is forced to remain incommunicado in the public sphere, BB and his minions have seemingly being drip-feeding information to the press (a) enabling the member in question to be identified without too much difficulty; and (b) containing tantalising hints of the allegations against him, making a mockery of the judicial process.

Namely: without having to look too deeply, it’s possible to find in various sources information about which Board the suspended BOA member comes from; what his nationality is; what his specialism is; and asserting variously that he’s been accused of carrying dangerous weapons within the office, spreading Nazi propaganda, disseminating defamatory information against a certain Croatian Vice-President of the Office, collaborating somehow (in ways curiously unspecified) with at least one of the suspended or fired staff representatives, and so on and so forth.

Some or all of this may be true. We simply don’t know (though I certainly find it doubtful, not least given the public prosecutor’s finding that the allegedly-defamatory press articles were not defamatory). It is surely not right under any reasonable concept of “justice” that the Office is apparently free to cast around such hints and accusations in public while the accused Board member is effectively gagged.

We should also not forget that some of the alleged evidence against the accused was reportedly obtained by means of key logging software or other such spyware installed on computers in public areas of the Office, and that these covert surveillance measures were apparently only authorised retrospectively by the EPO’s data protection officer, after the actions had already been taken.

The seemingly unnecessary plan to move the Boards out of central Munich, too, could do with closer scrutiny. According to some reports I’ve seen elsewhere, this plan has now been backed but only because the majority of AC representatives *abstained* in the crucial vote, thus leading to a “majority” in favour of the plan which actually represents a minority of the delegates. This is outrageous. Abstention is a completely ineffective means of registering a protest if it doesn’t stop the plan going ahead!

“The President has carte blanche and is using it to defeat his only serious opposition – SUEPO,” according to this comment which also relates to the Unitary Patent — a subject we’ll revisit shortly.

No, Anon, a single country cannot interfere, but what about the EU acting as a bloc? It would theoretically be possible for it to command a decisive majority. Indeed it would be very much in its interest in view of the importance to it of the Unitary Patent.

Is this going to happen? Of course not.

Any more than the prescribed ministerial conference is going to happen. When I mentioned the latter in my last post it was because I thought it might at least put some identifiable politicians in front of their responsibilities. But the fact that no-one is responsible for for carrying out this obligation means that it is just a purely theoretical possibility, meant to confer the mere appearance of democratic accountability on the doings of the EPO.

So there is no political entity, country or individual that can intervene. The President has carte blanche and is using it to defeat his only serious opposition – SUEPO.

The next few comments managed to avoid the trolls and stay on target/focus, i.e. the appeal boards. To quote one comment:

One point – an abstention must always be ineffective. It isn’t a vote against but a vote to let the rest decide for whatever reason. The risk is that when too many abstain, the resulting vote lacks authority and also you may then realise how you really felt. In this case if the vote had been against, I’m not sure you would be so agitated.
But I agree with the rest of your points.

A Bundesverfassungsgericht decision is then mentioned as follows:

There are many foul elements to this sorry story, in my view the most disgusting being the possibility for indefinite suspension of BoA members. As Merpel points out, the President no longer needs to go to the trouble of A.23(1) EPC (having spectacularly failed with this 3 times already…) – instead a troublesome BoA member can just be suspended until their tenure runs out. This is absolutely contrary to judicial independence and I look forward to reading the Bundesverfassungsgericht decision on this.

Bit of a risk involving the Bavarian police, no? I wonder if they had anything to say about key-logging / spy cameras, in contravention of German Datenschutzgesetz? Remarkable temerity to involve the police to ask them to act under national law while flouting that same law (sorry – being immune to it) as regards data protection. I don’t believe that such covert surveillance would anyway be admissible before a German court; it would itself be possibly deemed illegal surveillance.

Here is a good explanation of how or why Battistelli has managed to survive in his job so far:

Politicians in the countries, the governments, of Western Europe are fond of patting themselves on the back, when they berate the rest of the world for being unable to maintain The Rule of Law. OK, well then, the Administrative Council of the EPO is an ideal vehicle for them to demonstrate to the rest of the world what they mean by “the Rule of Law” and how it is to be maintained.

And what do we see? Totally supine attitudes. The AC has no backbone. BB is to be held to account by a lump of Plasticine.

No wonder that, these days, authoritarian and lawless regimes all round the world have nothing but scorn for our precious western European democracies. All talk and no action.

Those of us who read Merpel here should try to explain to the honorable profession of journalists what’s going on here, and how the AC story is a good way to demonstrate to the wider general public, in specially simple terms, a practical example of the erosion of our precious rights under a Rule of Law.

“Past tense,” noted another person in relation to the last sentence above is “At EPO the Rule of Law”

Present tense is “At EPO the Rule of Low” (how low can Battistelli stoop before he’s terminated by the Council?)

The whole Organisation is a rogue institution now, not just the Office. As long as the Council is cooperative in this whole charade, one might view it as passively complicit.

“So,” wrote the following commenter, “the EPO has blatantly failed to follow the rule of law.” This has been going on for years actually. Laws are being broken repeatedly, usually to help cover up previous violations of the law. It’s like a Watergate Scandal in slow(er) motion and Battistelli takes the role of Nixon.

So, the EPO has blatantly failed to follow the rule of law. The AC has blatantly failed in its most fundamental role of overseeing the actions of the Office. To add to that, there are numerous rumours circulating about precisely how it is that the President of the Office manages to retain the undying loyalty of certain representatives to the AC.

It is not hard to come to the conclusion that the Office has been entirely captured by a bunch of self-serving career civil servants who care not a jot for the reputation of the Office or the people that work there and merely seek to further their careers (and other self interests).

It seems that we cannot rely upon the current “political” class to “drain the swamp” at the EPO. There is simply too much complicity. My suggestion is that light will serve as the most effective disinfectant here. Does anyone have the number of a good investigative journalist (assuming that such people still exist)?

Here is part of a little debate about “multi-lateral bodies” such as WIPO and the EPO:

I agree with MaxDrei in respect of the general inadequacies of multi-lateral bodies. We just have to look at the impotence of the United Nations in matters far more devastating than this EPO saga.

So-called modern nations can’t combine to police/control despots around the world and many are suffering. Unilateral action by countries such as the US, UK, France are essential to protect people from the genocides and terrorists slaughters that regularly occur.

There is a lot of noise among the comments, with someone who goes by the name “BBRox” and is not alone in spreading pro-Battistelli talking points. “Check out the last comment,” someone told us about this thread at one time, “the use of the “we” shows that BBRox is at the EPO. The only question is who it is…”

Whoever it is, the person isn’t alone and a lot of the discussion got lost, focusing on imaginary staff perks rather than abuses against the staff. It’s a distraction and reversal, putting staff on the defensive. We are happy to see Merpel resuming/continuing to cover EPO (resuming after 4 months!) in spite of threats and sanctions from the EPO, but we are saddened to see some comments showing up with sheer (and likely intentional) inaccuracies in them, like claims that EPO staff is paid half a million Euros per year.

Here is an interesting long comment about the issues associated with such unnatural/multinational institutions that exist in a legal vacuum:

Amongst international organisations granted immunities, the EPO is unfortunately far from being alone in failing to respect basic principles of the rule of law. A 2010 essay by Matthew Parish (https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1651784) had this to say about the matter:
“The only way international law applicable to international organizations is enforced is either by the international organizations themselves, or through political pressure of their members. Neither of these is satisfactory, for obvious reasons. Self-regulation cannot expect to be effective, as the rules will be interpreted and applied in a way convenient to the organization applying them. Political pressure is arbitrary: the force that is brought to bear, even if disguised in legal language, is likely to reflect national political interests rather than legal principle. There can be no law without impartial adjudication of its content and application. The inference we must therefore reluctantly draw is that international organizations are lawless creatures, despite their best pretences otherwise. For all their formalities, procedures, internal regulations, bulging legal departments and quasi-legal language in which they cloak their operations, their legal structure is a phantasm. When the rhetoric is stripped away, the legal framework within which international organizations are revealed to operate is entirely self-serving. Divested of the only mode of accountability that might conceivably be available to constrain them, their true form is revealed as an utterly undisciplined bureaucracy, inward looking, unrestrained, hydra-headed but directionless, self-consuming, and subject to perennial self-serving growth”.

I am sure that this description of effective lawlessness will sound pretty familiar to those currently serving under BB’s cosh.

Sadly, the only solution proposed by Mr Parish (the introduction of legal accountability measures for international organisations) is not likely to be effective in the current situation… at least not unless national judges start developing theories by which certain actions of international organisations can be subject to the jurisdiction of national courts. Based upon the “opinion” issued in the case pending before the Dutch courts, this does not look likely to happen any time soon.

So, I guess I am back to reiterating my previous request: does anyone have the number of a good investigative journalist?

Surely it would not be too difficult to find “hard” evidence of actions by EPO management (or failures of oversight by the AC) that would breach provisions of all national laws (including provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights)? The first instance judgement in the Netherlands and the situation of the “suspended” judge spring immediately to mind. Analysis of the voting patterns of each national representative to the AC could well provide a rich source of information too.

Watch the following noteworthy observation about what Battistelli is doing as he strives to have an “INNOCENT PERSON dismissed,” to quote the following comment:

Mmh … let me see if I get it right:

the Munich Public Prosecutor – a fairly independent instance, I would say – has dismissed the complaint.

Did the President inform the Administrative Council of this important development in May?

Or is he using the AC to have an INNOCENT PERSON dismissed?

If anybody, at least the suspended member shall inform the AC, his own appointing authority.

It’s now also pretty clear why the president doesn’t want any external review of the cases of the dismissed Staff Representatives …

And then this came, regarding “dissemination of press articles [which] could constitute defamation under German law.”

The Prosecutor reviewed and analyzed the articles and concluded that their content was not in fact defamatory under German law. The Prosecutor also expressed doubt that in any event the dissemination of press articles could constitute defamation under German law.

Well, well, well … we now discover that the original accusation was “redistribution of press articles” which the Office “considered” “defamatory” against a “member of the senior management team at the EPO”.

(Everybody knows who this “member of the senior management team at the EPO” is. But now we now also understand why the EPO decided to block access to Techrights from within the Office … everything fits together perfectly …)

Given the reaction of the President and the mess in which he has put the Office, these articles should contain explosive material! What a pity that we cannot read them …

… but wait: we can! In Germany, legal proceedings are not subject to the cloak of secrecy imposed in EPOnia. In Germany, everyone can make his/her own mind, and not only hear the management’s version of the facts.

Anyone to get a copy of the decision of the Munich Prosecutor and retrieve a these “dangerous” articles*?

Also, send a copy of the decision to the German press that so far seems to have blindly followed the words of El Presidentissimo?

Mr. Battistelli has made a big mistake here. By the time the Munich Prosecutor announced his decision, he expected the suspended member to be already out of the EPO since long time …

* Yeah, I know they most probably are already available at Techrights, but still …

This defamation against the judge started at almost the exact same time that the EPO started sending threatening legal letters to Techrights. Both strategies (hypocritical SLAPP over “defamation” while the EPO itself is defaming an innocent man) began just shortly after the EPO had signed the first FTI Consulting contract. One wonders if both strategies were at least partly FTI Consulting’s idea (manipulating the Dutch and German press outlets by interjecting attack pieces into them and silencing other press by legal threats).

The EPO sure operates like some kind of a Mafia these days.

Here is a reply to people who think about applying for a job at the EPO:

you are free to apply to this paradise since EPO is hiring.

A salary and good working conditions are not a compensation for violation of fundamental rights or unhealthly management methods, and union bashing, denial of justice, bolchevik trials etc.

“Anyone who can is leaving,” notes the following comments, “early retirements are skyrocketing” (we have heard of actual numbers that confirm this trend). To quote:

It really grieves me to say it after many happy years in the EPO as an examiner, but I can’t recommend that you pursue your application. It is wishful thinking to hope that the badness is all at the top, and the lower management and staff join together to ignore as much as they can what BB and co. are doing. Anyone who can is leaving: early retirements are skyrocketing. You can see from the information in this blog and in the comments that BB’s power is completely unfettered, and is called a “reign of terror” without exaggeration.

You would not receive adequate training. Production pressure is so high that examiners are no longer willing or able to help one another with the benefit of their experience, as was always the case in the past. During the probationary year your targets will be unrealistic, such that you will have to violate your conscience many times in order not to fail.

Anyone brave enough to stand up to BB, such as staff representatives, or even senior managers, can be eliminated without any recourse to law. In this climate it is a miracle that any solidarity survives. It does, but it is hanging on by its fingernails.

It is difficult to see how the situation might improve. Unless and until there are some hopeful signs I would steer well clear.

The quality of comments thereafter is low as discussions have generally descended/devolved into some kind of quarrel between provocateurs and people trying to correct them. We don’t want to feed these as they’re a waste of time. We are not blaming the moderator for failing to maintain quality of comments (censorship should never be the answer), but the signal/noise ratio was down at that point. There were still lots of good comments in there, but they were lost amid many of which are just jokes and slightly off topic remarks. Commenters, many of whom are concerned EPO insiders, were spending a lot of time responding to pro-Battistelli voices that provoke by painting EPO staff as spoiled and self-centric. Here is one such response:

@zbrox as to being wrong. It is not only wrong on the moral merit, what you are writing, but also on the facts. A SR resigned. Evidently he did not feel harassed, as he did NOT file a disciplinary complaint which he could have done. Someone else did for him.

We believe that Bergot did this, but without having the documents leaked to us we can only guess based on vague responses from Mr. Prunier (LP). Here is a response to misinformation about LP:

Your facts on the LP case are interesting. Please quote your (independent or documentary) source.
Your characterisation of Suepo as Trump and BB as Clinton is equally incredible. Not least since BB is part of the right-wing party in France. Suepo, by the way, have not linked any of the current issues to more money or rights, contrary to your statement.

Regarding EPO work pressure, one person noted that it’s “not hard to imagine how this could lead to production pressure and low quality results.” Yes, patent quality has certainly declined. Nobody has told us otherwise. Here is an example of this troll-feeding comment (“BBrox” is one among few trolls):

I find BBrox comments very enlightening. If newly appointed examiners are seriously expected to deliver 90 products in their first year, how much time will be left for the “extensive 2 year training” advertised on the EPO jobs homepage? It’s not hard to imagine how this could lead to production pressure and low quality results.

Based on employment surveys, the EPO no longer even attracts many job applications (at least not of desirable quality), which means that quality of examination will suffer. Things won’t improve until Battistelli and his “swamp” say goodbye and even after they are all gone the EPO may take several decades to rebuild and maybe even regain its reputation.

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