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10.21.14

India May be Taking Bill Gates to Court for Misusing His So-called ‘Charity’ to Conduct Clinical Trials Without Consent on Behalf of Companies He Invests in

Posted in Bill Gates, Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 9:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GlaxoSmithKline logo

Summary: Bill Gates may finally be pulled into the courtroom again, having been identified for large-scale abuses that he commits in the name of profit (not “charity”)

THE Gates Foundation is run and controlled by a rude and arrogant sociopath masquerading as a “philanthropist”. Based on the latest news [1, 2, 3], he doesn’t like his next-door neighbours in the US and does not obey the law (he is facing fines for it), so what chance is there that he will like some strangers in a place like Africa or India and and that he will ever obey African or Indian laws? He keeps getting richer every year, but much of the press (part of which he bribes) portrays him as a giver. Bribing politicians and newspapers is not “charity”, but when you pay the newspapers they might as well paint it as anything that suits them. Besides, it’s common to just call the “bribes” something like “campaign contributions” (among other euphemisms) to make it seem lawful, ethical, and acceptable.

Earlier this year a publication that had been bribed by Gates finally dared to criticise him for something. It mostly stopped doing that after he had bribed it, so this was the exception. But it was a flawed critique. It should already be broadly and widely understood that Gates uses ‘charity’ for tax-free investments in dubious work that requires, for example, high-risk clinical trials, casting it “charity”. Making it look like “charity” has the benefit of not having to operate like a standard business and be subjected to the same rules/laws. The Gates-bribed publication correctly pointed out that Gates was “boosting his fortune by another £9.6bn last year,” but it neglected to say he he avoids paying tax. Instead it focused on Microsoft and other companies. Here is a half-truth (or half lie): “Gates says he pays his personal taxes. Great.”

No, he doesn’t.

He puts it in a shell that helps him evade tax. A shame really that writers cannot see something so obvious…

The writer carries on: “But he made all that money from Microsoft which, like other tax-avoiding technology giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, uses sophisticated systems to shift paper profits around the planet and evade the designs of governments.”

This is another half-truth (or half lie). Gates actually makes a lot of his money not from Microsoft but from investment in very controversial companies that greatly harm society. We gave dozens of examples over the years.

The author continues: “Indeed, so extreme are its methods the company was used as a case study in a Senate investigation into US corporate tax avoidance, which found one example of offshoring profits through a tiny Puerto Rico office alone saved it $4m a day in taxes.”

What about the (mis)use of charity to evade tax? Well, a Gates-funded paper would not want to mention that. Here comes some shameless fawning: “Gates has every right to do what he wants with his wealth. It is to his credit he is giving away so much, persuading other billionaires to do the same and championing causes close to his heart – although as others have pointed out, even this is not immune to tax advantages. His determination to push vaccinations and prevent malaria is laudable. But if he wants to discuss development, preach about poverty and tell nations how to spend taxpayers’ money, he should put his own house in order first.”

What a complete hogwash. There are so many factual errors in this paragraph. It’s purely marketing garbage and those being lured to read the article are going to end up indoctrinated and brainwashed, as if Gates is some kind of “saint” and the “evils” are just some large corporations that people supposedly envy (and it should be noted that Gates remains deeply involved in the law-breaking Microsoft that’s as criminal an entity as ever before). Not only Microsoft dodges tax, Bill Gates does too. To make matters worse, he exploits poor people to make even more money whilst avoiding tax. Microsoft puts offshore billions of dollars to avoid tax and Gates dodges taxation by pretending that his business is a “charity”.

“The trial is years overdue and possible belated to the point where irreversible damage is done.”Just how much of a “charity” is the Gates Foundation? Well, today we’ll turn our attention to some recent news.

Some years ago we wrote about children dying in India after Gates had experimented on them. GlaxoSmitheKline was involved and remember that GlaxoSmitheKline is very much connected to Gates in numerous ways. Well, back in August in the corporate Indian media there was this article which said: “Earlier this month, taking a serious view of the death of seven tribal girls in the context of the observation studies, the Supreme Court asked the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to explain how permissions were given.

“The SC bench of justices Dipak Misra and V Gopala Gowda asked the Centre to produce relevant files that pertained to the grant of licence for trial of the HPV vaccine in India. The court also asked the Centre to appraise it of steps taken on the report of the parliamentary committee.”

Suffice to say, the Gates apologists are trying to paint this as the anti-vaccine movement with its claims of conspiracies to infect/sell. But the truth may be somewhere in between. What we saw in India was a clinical trial with low risk of litigation (for example in case a subject dies). As Andrew Powell from Wales pointed out in the comments: “‘A wise dog never poops on his own doorstep’. A man, known for his philanthropic and ethical character, finds it essential or preferable for his American company to guinea-pig his new drugs on people living on the other side of the world. What made him rule out testing it on Harvard Sophomores?”

This is like in the movie Constant Gardener, which is a very strong movie with a long-lasting impression to be left (based on my own experience and others’).

The corporate media us usually too shy to touch such a topic because of the anti-vaccine hysteria that’s often so irrational or taken out of context where concerns are more or less valid. Based on the article above, the “committee found that the objective behind the observation studies in India primarily was to collect and record data on the effect of the vaccines on the minor subjects.”

So, it was after all a clinical trial. Unbelievable. How can Gates and his corporate partners get away with it? The legal challenge/potential trial is years overdue and possibly belated to the point where irreversible damage is done. Here is what Activist Post wrote about this along with other sites like Natural Society:

Furthermore, though absent from most mainstream U.S. media outlets, the Economic Times of India published their report in August 2014, stating that young tribal girls were tested with HPV vaccines. This involved not a handful of children, but 16,000 individuals in Andhra Pradesh, India, where they were given the Gardasil vaccine.

KP Narayana Kumar reported that within a month of receiving the vaccine, many of the children fell ill, and by 2010, five of them had died. Another two children were reported to have died in Vadodara, Gujarat, where another 14,000 tribal children were vaccinated with another brand of the HPV vaccine, Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmitheKline (GSK), who incidentally, has been accused of dumping polio virus into a Belgium river.

Consent forms to administer the HPV vaccine were ‘illegally’ signed by wardens form youth hostels, showing that the Gates’ prey on the indigent without parents. For those who had parents, most were illiterate, and the true potential dangers of the vaccines were not explained to them.

SAMA, an organization in India which promotes women’s health discovered this insidiousness, and reported it, but only now will Gates and his cronies have to answer for their misdeeds. Approximately 120 girls reported epileptic seizures, severe stomach cramps, headaches, and mood swings, of those who did not die. Other girls receiving the Gardasil vaccine have experienced infertility.

To truly understand what Gates is doing here one can rent the movie The Constant Gardener (2005). It is tough to watch, but there is an educational angle/value to it. This whole thing is despicable and it helps show that Gates is above the law, internationally. He sort of “harvests” the world’s poorest people in his ruthlessly capitalistic aspiration to enhance his political power and increase his wealth. Expect Gates to pull some political strings to pull out of this court ‘nuisance’. The rich are above the law when they can typically just pay their way out. Remember that Gates was arrested as a teenager and freed on bail because his father was very affluent; this was not the last time that Gates got out of trouble with the law just because he was wealthy. It’s a systemic problem and a relatively poor country like India is unlikely to be potent enough to convict Gates. It did, however, find Microsoft guilty for tax evasion. That was over half a decade ago.

The Problems With Legal Workarounds, Patent Scope, and Expansion of Patent Trolls to the East

Posted in Law, Patents at 7:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: Patent trolls are in the news again and it’s rather important, albeit for various different reasons, more relevant than the ones covered here in the past

THE relentless attempts to redefine “patent troll” — attempts which can be largely attributed to patent trolls themselves (and their lobbyists, such as Bill Gates’ and Nathan Myhrvold’s lobbyists) — were covered here in past years and we continue to see much of the same now that politicians are said to be going after “trolls” (an elusive ‘reform’ that will go almost nowhere). The remedy will most likely necessitate some kind of scope limitation; this scope should be a debate around patents, not the aggressor’s scope or scale. The world’s biggest trolls are often not characterised in the corporate press as “trolls” at all. It is a form of propaganda or a game of words that defames small players and glorifies larger players that engage in the very same behaviour.

As the troll-tracking Steph put it the other day, we cannot rely on politicians. “I’m on record many, many times agreeing that legislation is not the way to curb patent trolling,” she explained. “It’s right there in the name of the offender: “troll”. It may slow them down temporarily, but overall, anyone called a “troll” is going to come back swinging a few months or years later with a whole new set of workarounds. It’s impossible to stay fully head of them with laws.” Whereas by going after the patents themselves would help eliminate abuse, no matter if the abuser is as large as Microsoft or as small those many no-name trolls. Nathan Myhrvold (shown above) is already seeing his massive patent troll imploding (lots of layoffs) and litigation rates have gone down considerably just after the Alice ruling. It was about patent scope. According to those who pursue reform only targeting patent trolls, “It’s been reported in a few places that a recent Lex Machina report states that patent litigation is down 40% from last year. Of course, the patent trolls are trying to use these inaccurate reports to argue that the patent troll problem is essentially solved.”

This is untrue. The reality is, the Alice ruling seemingly weakened many of them. They were reliant on software patents, based on statistics acquired some years back. It shows that by pursuing changes around patent scope we can achieve many of the overall goals; it’s a domino effect.

In other interesting news, China is said to be turning into quite the hotbed of patent trolls and Glyn Moody writes: “The Chinese government’s move is part of a larger story that recapitulates America’s own evolution from a “pirate” nation that fuelled its industrial revolution by ignoring the law and appropriating Western Europe’s patented ideas, to one using the same legal instruments against European companies.”

Here we have yet another reason to narrow the scope of patents. Trolls are a symptom of a scope too broad and China can take advantage of it. Not only trolls are impeded by elimination of “abstract” patents (which include software patents); everything in the patent system (universally) is affected by that, irrespective of the size of the plaintiff.

10.20.14

Links 20/10/2014: Cloudera and Red Hat, Debian 7.7, and Vivid Vervet

Posted in News Roundup at 6:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Samsung and Intel Stay Committed to Chromebooks

      Samsung has announced its new Chromebook 2, a good looking model that joins a slew of new Chromebooks arriving in the market. With the holiday season approaching, it’s looking like portable computers running Chrome OS and featuring very low price points will be very big sellers.

  • Server

    • The Companies That Support Linux: DataCentred

      Companies are increasingly turning to cloud services to build and deliver their applications, but those that want to use an open source cloud may find it more difficult to set up and maintain. Service-providers such as UK-based DataCentred can more efficiently set up an enterprise cloud using open source software, at scale.

  • Kernel Space

    • EXT4 In Linux 3.18 Has Clean-ups, Bug Fixes

      With Linux 3.18-rc1 having came one week early, the EXT4 file-system pull request didn’t end up landing until today. However, the EXT4 changes aren’t overly exciting for the 3.18 merge window.

    • Kernel prepatch 3.18-rc1
    • Linux Kernel Working Towards GNU11/C11 Compatibility

      For now it looks like the Linux kernel is going to explicitly declare itself as using the GNU89 dialect of the C89 standard but over time the code is being made to compile under C11.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA’s NVPTX Support For GCC Is Close To Being Merged

        The NVPTX back-end code for GCC that’s going to allow OpenACC 2.0 offloading support for NVIDIA GPUs with GCC is close to materializing within the mainline code-base.

      • LIBINPUT INTEGRATION IN KWIN/WAYLAND

        Today I pushed my outstanding branch to get libinput support into kwin_wayland. Libinput is a very important part for the work to get a full Wayland session in Plasma which means we reached a very important milestone. As the name suggests it allows us to process input events directly. KWin needs to forward the input events to the currently active application(s) and also interpret them before any other application gets them. E.g. if there is a global shortcut KWin should intercept it and not send it to an application.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Screenshots

    • Red Hat Family

      • Ex-Microsoft man takes up arms for Red Hat’s open-cloud crusade

        So where does Red Hat turn? Microsoft – that’s where.

        Red Hat in September hired Harry Mower as senior director, developer programs and evangelism.

        Mower has been an evangelist and outreach manager for Microsoft since 2006, on media, telecoms and entertainment. His job, to expand uptake and adoption of Microsoft technologies.

      • Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst on the impact of cloud and mobile

        So I asked Whitehurst if the cloud had already won the war for IT infrastructure, but he gave me a more nuanced response than I expected: “I think there’s a new architecture combining computing and storage in an easily managed centralized data center,” he said. “Scaling out that architecture… That’s clearly winning.”

        “What’s less clear,” he continued, “is whether the traditional enterprise-owned-and-managed data center on premise will serve that, or will it be the public cloud or something in between? That’s still far from resolved.”

      • Red Hat Collaborates With SAP to Deploy Mobile Data Management Cartridge for SAP® SQL Anywhere on OpenShift
      • Cloudera and Red Hat Forge Big Data Alliance

        Cloudera, the leader in enterprise analytic data management powered by Apache Hadoop, and Red Hat, Inc., the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced an alliance to deliver joint enterprise software solutions including data integration and application development tools, and data platforms. By integrating a broad range of products and technologies, Cloudera and Red Hat will help customers harness the fast changing big data life cycle with open, secure and agile solutions.

      • Fedora

        • Rejuvenate your Fedora desktop with Moka

          Moka started as a single Linux desktop icon theme, but over time it has gradually evolved into an entire project & brand identity that provides quality designs to people. Moka is about personalization and its goal is to provide an assortment of style options to allow you to customize your experience.

    • Debian Family

      • Users/Developers Threatening Fork Of Debian GNU/Linux
      • “Fork Debian” Project Aims to Put Pressure on Debian Community and Systemd Adoption

        The Debian project decided to adopt systemd a while ago and ditch the upstart counterpart. The decision was very controversial and it’s still contested by some users. Now, a new proposition has been made, to fork Debian into something that doesn’t have systemd.

      • Debian 7.7 Is Out with Security Fixes

        The Debian project project has announced that Debian 7.7 “Wheezy” is now out and available for download. This is the regular maintenance update, but it packs quite a few important fixes.

      • Debian 7.7 Released With Various Bug-Fixes
      • Updated Debian 7: 7.7 released

        The Debian project is pleased to announce the seventh update of its stable distribution Debian 7 (codename “wheezy”). This update mainly adds corrections for security problems to the stable release, along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories were already published separately and are referenced where available.

      • Derivatives

        • Elive Is an Interesting Debian-Based Distro with a Beautiful Enlightenment Desktop

          Elive, a Linux distribution based on Debian which uses the Enlightenment desktop environment to provide a unique user experience, has just reached version 2.3.9 Beta and it’s ready for testing.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • UNITY PRIVACY INDICATOR 0.4 RELEASED WITH NEW PRIVACY SETTINGS

            For those not familiar with Privacy Indicator, this is an Ubuntu AppIndicator especially created for Unity, which allows you to control various privacy aspects.

            Until this release, the indicator could be used to enable / disable Dash online search results and Zeitgeist logging (and also clear the Zeitgeist log), clear recently used files (which show up in the Nautilus or Nemo “Recent” sidebar item for instance) and to show or hide your real name on the Unity panel.

          • V is for Vivid

            Release week! Already! I wouldn’t call Trusty ‘vintage’ just yet, but Utopic is poised to leap into the torrent stream. We’ve all managed to land our final touches to *buntu and are excited to bring the next wave of newness to users around the world. Glad to see the unicorn theme went down well, judging from the various desktops I see on G+.

            And so it’s time to open the vatic floodgates and invite your thoughts and contributions to our soon-to-be-opened iteration next. Our ventrous quest to put GNU as you love it on phones is bearing fruit, with final touches to the first image in a new era of convergence in computing. From tiny devices to personal computers of all shapes and sizes to the ventose vistas of cloud computing, our goal is to make a platform that is useful, versal and widely used.

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Codename Announced: Vivid Vervet

            The development codename of an Ubuntu release takes the form “Adjective Animal”. Initially these weren’t in alphabetic order – until Dapper DRAKE (6.06).

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Is Codenamed After A Monkey: Vivid Vervet
          • Ubuntu 15.04 Vivid Vervet due in 2015

            Canonical plans to release Ubuntu 14.10 Utopic Unicorn on Friday, October 25th. The following week work will begin on the next major update to the open source operating system.

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Is Called Vivid Vervet
          • Happy Birthday Ubuntu!

            Today is Ubuntu’s ten year anniversary. Scott did a wonderful job summarizing many of those early years and his own experience, and while I won’t be as articulate as him, I wanted to share a few thoughts on my experience too.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux-optimized IP core promises 4200 DMIPS

      Synopsis announced an “HS38″ version of its Linux-focused DesignWare ARC core IP with a new ARCv2 ISA and support for 2.2GHz, 4200 DMIPS speeds at 28nm.

      Synopsis acquired its Linux-optimized line of DesignWare ARC 32-bit RISC/DSP cores when it bought semiconductor IP vendor Virage Logic back in 2010 shortly after Virage acquired ARC International. Since then Synopsis has released several DesignWare ARC HS processor designs, most recently with the HS36.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • FOSS and the Fear Factor

    “Clickbait” is also the term Google+ blogger Alessandro Ebersol chose to describe the Bloomberg account.

    “I could not see the point the author was trying to make, except sensationalism and views,” he told Linux Girl.

    “The author is wrong,” Ebersol charged. “He should educate himself on the topic. The flaws are results of lack of funding, and too many corporations taking advantage of free software and giving nothing back.”

    Moreover, “I still believe that a piece of code that can be studied and checked by many is far more secure than a piece made by a few,” Google+ blogger Gonzalo Velasco C. chimed in.

    “All the rumors that FLOSS is as weak as proprietary software are only FUD — period,” he said. “It is even more sad when it comes from private companies that drink in the FLOSS fountain.”

  • Discourse

    Discourse is an open-source project, hosted at GitHub (see Resources), licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 2. It is backed by Atwood’s company, which has the fantastic name of Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc., and it aims to profit through installing and supporting Discourse.

  • Events

    • We’re Hosting an OpenDaylight HackFest in Japan

      The OpenDaylight Project has quickly grown to become a global community, with more than 250 contributors working to advance open SDN and NFV from all corners of the world. This includes 11 ambassadors worldwide and OpenDaylight User Groups in six cities across three countries. We are excited to host our first OpenDaylight HackFest in Japan in less than two weeks, and the good news is that it’s free to attend.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Chief Architect of Cloudera on growth of Hadoop

      Doug Cutting is founder of numerous successful open source projects, including Lucene and Hadoop, and currently the chief architect at Cloudera and sits on the Board of the Apache Software Foundation.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Is Oracle’s Cloud Strategy Really Open, Or Are Doors Locking?

      Oracle recently made its Oracle OpenStack for Oracle Linux distribution generally available, and has been loudly beating the war drums on the OpenStack front. As I recently noted, It seems inevitable that there will soon be an OpenStack market shakeout soon, and big players like Oracle and HP may remain standing as that happens, especially in light of their experience supporting enterprise customers.

    • Free and Open Source Electronic Signature in Costa Rica

      The LibreOffice component designed by the University of Costa Rica (UCR) is similar to similar software enhancements currently used for electronic signatures in other countries.

  • Business

    • Semi-Open Source

      • The Inherent Dishonesty Inside Open Source

        Then there is so-called ‘openwashing’ i.e. providing trace elements of open source somewhere on a business model so that a company can attest to and demonstrate its philanthropic side. Purists argue that there is a big difference between opening your data and making it available; the open source list of besmirching malpractice is a long one.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Following GCC, Clang Looks To Default To C11

      Earlier this month I wrote about GCC 5 looking to default to GNU11/C11 over GNU89 for its GCC 5 release. That change ended up landing in SVN so the GNU Compiler Collection is finally providing C11 support by default. Last week the LLVM/Clang developers began discussing a similar move.

    • October 2014 GNU Toolchain Update

      The optimization works more effectively with link time optimization enabled. The optimization is similar to the ICF optimization performed by the GOLD linker, but it works at a different level and it may find equivalences that GOLD misses.

    • Emacs 24.4 Has Built-In Web Browser, Improved Multi-Monitor Support

      A new release of Emacs is out today and it’s quite a big update with new functionality for this popular and extensible text editor.

    • Emacs 24.4 released

      Version 24.4 of the Emacs text editor is now available.

  • Programming

    • EU Code Week – more than just coding, more than just a week

      Last week was the second ever EU code week. With over 3000 events across the EU and beyond, this was by far the most successful such event ever. But more importantly: it meant hundreds of thousands of children and adults have tried this out for the first time – and realised it is creative, rewarding and fun. Hundreds of thousands have had their first taste of a new opportunity. Hundreds of thousands have learned it’s not just for guys, and not just for geeks. Hundreds of thousands have started on a new life skill – one that could empower and open doors for the rest of their lives.

    • LLVM Gets Bindings For Google’s Go

      Another feature for the upcoming LLVM 3.6 release are bindings for Google’s Go programming language.

    • PHP 5.6.2 and 5.4.34 Update for Critical Security Flaws

      PHP is widely deployed across the Internet and is the language used to power much of the world’s leading Content Management Systems (CMS) and blogs (including this one).

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • US Army withheld promise from Germany that Ebola virus wouldn’t be weaponized

      The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.

      German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.”

      Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.

    • FLASHBACK: When Conservative Media Didn’t Care Bush’s Bird Flu Czar Had No Medical Experience

      Fox News continues to lead the conservative attack on Ron Klain, whom President Obama appointed as the administration’s Ebola coordinator, termed by some a “czar,” to help direct the government’s response to the rare virus and its arrival in Dallas, Texas.

  • Security

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Idaho officer’s pay cut after he shot pet dog

      A northern Idaho police officer who shot a pet dog has had his pay reduced by $3.15 to $31.02 per hour.

    • Official Sources May Be the Only Sources

      New York Times investigative reporter James Risen is taking a stand. Despite being hounded by both the Bush and Obama administrations to reveal his sources, he has vowed to go to jail rather than abandon his pledge of confidentiality.

    • FedEx Ground Says Its Drivers Aren’t Employees. The Courts Will Decide

      Five days a week for 10 years, Agostino Scalercio left his house before 6 a.m., drove to a depot to pick up a truck, and worked a 10-hour shift delivering packages in San Diego. He first worked for Roadway Package System, a national delivery company whose founders included former United Parcel Service (UPS) managers, and continued driving trucks when FedEx (FDX) bought RPS in 1998. FedEx Ground assigned Scalercio a service area. The company, he says, had strict standards about delivery times, the drivers’ grooming, truck maintenance, and deadlines for handing in paperwork, and deducted money from his pay to cover the cost of his uniform, truck washings, and the scanner used to log shipments.

    • President Of Israel Says Israel Is A ‘Sick Society’

      But one voice echoing popular global sentiment is surprising – the President of Israel. Israel President Reuven Rivlin says Israel has become a “sick society” that lacks human decency and is unable to engage in dialogue with Arabs due to racial animosity and prejudice – a rather stunning indictment by a head of state of his own country.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • What is net neutrality all about?

      Waiting in line can feel like a sacred responsibility, with each line member poised to prevent cutting and ensure fairness. Other times, cutting is just part of the game, like when you’re at the airport and have to wait for every platinum, gold, and silver club member to board before taking your seat.

      “Net neutrality” is about what kind of lines we should have on the Internet. Supporters of net neutrality think all online information should be treated equally — no cutting. Opponents argue that fast lanes and priority access would actually make the Internet better.

    • The Future of the Internet – 20 Years Ago

      Netscape Navigator was released 20 years ago today. Thank you to everyone who supported us at Netscape & built the Web with us then and now!

      That was posted by a certain Marc Andreessen. You probably know him as a successful venture capitalist, but before that, he was one of the people who helped popularise the Web. He did that by creating the Mosaic browser back in 1993 – first for Unix, and later for the Apple Macintosh and Windows (version 3.1). Mosaic was written at the University of Illinois, and was freely available for non-commercial use. But once the appeal of a graphical Web browser became evident, it was natural for people to start to think about turning it into a business.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Kim Dotcom Must Reveal Everything He Owns to Hollywood

        Kim Dotcom has failed in a bid to keep his personal finances a secret from Hollywood. They will now be revealed to the studios, but the public will remain in the dark. In a separate High Court ruling, Dotcom was refused a judicial review after being denied access to documents to assist with his extradition battle.

      • Illegal Copying Has Always Created Jobs, Growth, And Prosperity

        Throughout history, those who have copied the most have also always been the most prosperous, and for that reason. Bans on copying, like the copyright and patent monopolies, are just plain industrial protectionism.

Links 20/10/2014: 10 Years Since First Ubuntu Release

Posted in News Roundup at 8:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • IBM Tweaks Power-Linux Discount Deal In Europe

      IBM has made it pretty clear that it wants more Power Systems customers to adopt Linux for certain parts of their workloads in addition to selling more Power8 systems to customers with Linux workloads that might otherwise buy X86 systems. IBM’s European unit is actually doing something about it to try to push Linux.

    • Sharing Power Systems: An IBM i And Linux Story

      If you want to have a conversation with IBM’s Doug Balog about i on Power, be prepared for Linux on Power to be part of the discussion. The two are inseparable when you’re the person running the Power Systems business, which, by the way, is exactly what Balog does. The reason i and Linux are inseparable is because they are each very good at different things and they need one another to be good at everything.

    • OVH taps open source Power8 architecture, OpenStack for cloud platform

      Hosting provider OVH has launched a cloud service based on IBM’s Power8 processor architecture, an open source architecture tailored specifically for big data applications, and OpenStack.

      OVH, which serves 700,000 customers from 17 datacentres globally, said it wanted to provide a robust public cloud service tuned for database workloads and has tapped a combination of IBM and OpenStack-based technologies in this pursuit.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 3.18-rc1

      So when I released 3.17, I said that I’d extend the merge window to
      three weeks due to travel.

      I clearly lied.

      Because here we are, the usual two weeks later, and I’ve already
      pushed out 3.18-rc1.

      What happened is that not only did I merge actively despite travels -
      I was out of communication just for a couple of days (almost, but not
      entirely, due to flights – the hotel in DÃsseldorf lost all internet
      for a day too). But perhaps more importantly, people seem to have
      aggressively sent in their pull requests, because rc1 contains more
      than linux-next did a couple of days after 3.17.. So holding it up
      another week just seems pointless.

      That said, I realize that people might have taken my statements at
      face value, and planned with that in mind. I hate it when I get pull
      requests really late in the merge window, but having closed it as per
      the regular schedule, I also understand that somebody might have
      planned on sending their pull request a bit later. It’s ok. Grovel a
      bit, and explain what’s up, and you can almost certainly guilt me into
      taking stuff.

      Also, maybe I just missed something due to jetlag (hmm. yes, let’s
      call it “jetlag”, that sounds so much better than “core incompetence
      and bad planning”), so if you feel unfairly overlooked, send me a note
      explaining how I’ve unfairly wronged you.

      There is also at least one pull request that I am hoping to get asap
      and planning on still pulling, ie I’m very much still hoping to get
      overlayfs finally merged. But there were a few last-minute questions
      from Al. Assuming that all works out, that’s an expected late pull.
      Not worth holding up the rc1 release for one known straggler, though.

      So there you have it. The merge window is closed, but with room for
      excuses and possible missed requests. As usual, the shortlog is much
      too big to post (core stats: roughly 74% drivers, 10% architecture
      updates, the rest networking, filesystems, core kernel, documentation,
      include files, tool updates…), and the appended is my “mergelog”
      which as usual credits the people I pulled from, which is not at all
      necessarily the same as the people writing the code.

      Go forth and test,

      Linus

    • Linus Torvalds Releases Linux Kernel 3.18 RC1 a Week Early

      Linus Torvalds has surprised everyone and launched Linux kernel 3.18 RC1 ahead of time. A new development cycle has started and it will take a few weeks to see what some of the major features added are.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Five Best Linux Desktop Environments

      Whether you’re customizing your Linux install or choosing a distro to go with, one of your many options is the desktop environment you use. There are tons to choose from, all with different benefits and features. There may be no one single best, but this week we’re looking at five of them, based on your nominations.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Upcoming KDE Applications 14.12 release prep

        In preparing for the upcoming releases of KDE Applications 14.12 (2014 Month 12) I realized the other day that we have an interesting situation. For Qt4 based applications there’s libkdeedu which contains the kvtml parsing and manipulating code and also a handful of .kvtml files that KAnagram and KHangMan use to get their word lists.

      • Marble Atlas Review – Alternative to Google Earth

        Marble is a 3D virtual globe application which features various map views, Internet services integration for geographical and meteorological data, satellite views, routes suggestions, plugins.

      • KDE Telepathy 0.9.0 Released

        Today we released the 0.9 series of KDE Telepathy, a multiprotocol instant messaging client for Plasma.

        Amongst the many bugfixes the following features are worth highlighting.

      • What do you require from KTracks?

        In the last posting we presented the vision of KTracks, the KDE tool to track GPS based activities, and discussed personas (the target users) and scenarios in which it is applied.

      • DigiKam 4.4.0 Review & Ubuntu Installation

        It’s been a while since I had a look at DigiKam, and even though I’m not much into using a specialized application for organizing and keeping track of photos, I decided to have a look at the state of this popular and feature-complete photo manager for KDE.

      • Calligra Gemini – now also for Linux :)

        Some people may remember earlier this year when Krita Gemini became (to my knowledge) the first open source software to become greenlit on Steam. For those who don’t, yeah, that really happened Wink Krita Gemini was a project created in cooperation between the KDE community’s Calligra team, the little software consultancy KO GmbH, and a large semiconductor manufacturer named Intel, who had some devices they needed to be able to show off. Krita Gemini is available on the Steam store, though not yet for Linux (as it turns out, Steam packaging for Linux is even more awkward than building stand-alone installers for Windows, an odd sort of situation for us used to sensible package managers)

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Parsix OS Is an Interesting GNOME and Debian 7.0 “Whezzy” Blend

        The Parsix operating system uses only the GNOME and Debian packages from the stable branches. The developers aim to provide a complete and bug free Linux distribution, at least as much as humanly possible. The fact that the OS is based on Debian “Wheezy” helps a lot, especially because it’s now a Long Term release and it comes with all the latest security updates.

    • Slackware Family

      • Porteus 3.1 RC1 Is a Bleeding Edge Slackaware-Based Distro with Linux Kernel 3.17

        Porteus is a special operating system that is designed to be very fast and feature all kind of bleeding edge features. It’s also optimized to run from all sorts of mediums, not just hard disks. It’s built on Slackware and it’s extremely small, a characteristic that is determined by the fact that it’s always loaded completely in the memory.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6

        Red Hat has reached version 6.6 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. This latest version comes nearly four years after the launch of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 in 2010. It enhances system performance, administration, and virtualization functions whether operating on bare metal, building out your virtual infrastructure, or using the open hybrid cloud.

      • oVirt 3.5 Rolls Out

        This past week was the KVM Forum, a three-day event in Düsseldorf that brought together the entire KVM community, which included oVirt users and developers. The October 16th oVirt Workshop, a free-of-charge event co-located with the KVM Forum, focused on the oVirt datacenter platform and its use in business and academic worlds.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Tails 1.2 : Video Review and Screenshot Tours

          Tails 1.2 is released and announced by Tails developers bring with new feature and improvement. As we know, Tails is a live linux distribution based on debian and focused to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Meizu MX4 Pro Spotter Running Ubuntu Touch

            For now, we don’t know which device will be running Ubuntu Touch, but due to the fact that Meizu MX4 Pro has been postponed to November, it may be it. The MX4 Pro uses a 5.4 inch display with 1536 x 2560 resilution, a 20 MPX rear camera + a 13 MPX front camera, a Samsung octa-core Exynos 5430 CPU and 3 GB of RAM.

          • Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn” Arrives in a Few Days

            When Ubuntu hits the Final Freeze point the developers stop pushing updates and changes, and everyone focuses on the major bugs and problems that haven’t been fixed yet. An exception can be made if something really terrible happens, but that wasn’t the case until now and it’s unlikely to occur.

            Now, Ubuntu 14.10 (Utopic Unicorn) is scheduled to arrive on October 23, this Thursday. Users will be offered the chance to upgrade their systems, but this is an intermediary release and it’s not likely that many users will take this step. The Ubuntu LTS release was just six months ago and not too many users are going to exchange the five years of support for 14.04 with just nine months for 14.10.

          • Ubuntu Turns 10, Happy Birthday!

            Mark Shuttleworth announced Ubuntu 4.10 “The Warty Warthog Release” on October 20, 2004. It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since then, but we are now getting ready for Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn.”

          • It has been 10 years since Ubuntu 4.10. Happy Birthday Ubuntu!
  • Devices/Embedded

    • OpenTAC – an automation lab in a box

      I’ve previously covered running LAVA on ARM devices, now that the packages are in Debian. I’ve also covered setting up the home lab, including the difficulty in obtaining the PDU and relying on another machine to provide USB serial converters with inherent problems of needing power to keep the same devices assigned to the same ser2net ports.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Twitter Client Talon (Classic) Reaches Its Token Limit, Unpublished From Play Store And Going Open Source

    Twitter imposes a limit of 100,000 authorization tokens per app, which has resulted in the untimely death of apps like Falcon Pro in the past. According to Talon dev Luke Klinker, he has been planning for this event, and that’s one of the reasons Talon Plus was developed as a separate app and not just an update to the original one. It now has its own set of 100,000 tokens to run through until it too dies at the cruel hands of Twitter’s API.

  • Free Software is Europe’s second chance

    While Free Software was not born in Europe, the relative disadvantage of the European I.T. sector compared to the U.S. can be greatly mitigated by enabling Free and Open Source Software models across the I.T. ecosystem and the industries increasignly relying on software as one of their core components. It is important to realize that the objective of building a Europe-based I.T. industry as strong or as rich as the U.S. one is a delusion. You cannot turn back the time, and the circumstances that led to the booming of the U.S. I.T. sector cannot be replicated entirely. I am aware the European Commission was sold on the idea that somehow we could replicate America’s crazy software patent system and that somehow this would strengthen our economy. I am curious to see where that will end, but I’m very pessimistic in that regard.

  • Events

    • Organizer Confirms Both POSSCON and ‘Great Wide Open’ in 2015

      This year IT-oLogy, the organization behind the annual POSSCON conference in Columbia, South Carolina, cancelled the event in order to focus on launching the Great Wide Open (GWO) conference in Atlanta. At the time, some expressed fear that this might signal the end of the Palmetto State event, that Great Wide Open actually meant a move and new name for the conference. At the same time, others were speculating that GWO would be a one-off event, essentially making it a one year move by POSSCON to Atlanta, which would then return to its native home in Columbia, which is where IT-oLogy is headquartered.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Hello Not Working and Mozilla Claims the Bug is Invalid

        Mozilla announced the Firefox 34 Beta release on October 17 and a key highlight is the new Firefox Hello feature. Firefox Hello is supposed to enable users to simply use the browser to be able to call each other.

      • Firefox 34 Beta Allows Video and Audio Calls to Google Chrome and Opera Users

        Mozilla is out with a new Firefox version, but this time it’s the first Beta for the new 34 branch. If you think that this is yet another boring release, you better think again because it comes with some cool features.

      • On a quest for a new logo and open design at Mozilla

        Sean Martell understands this. As Art Director for Mozilla, he’s one part of a team behind Mozilla’s visual design. Lately, he’s been involved in redesigning Mozilla’s iconic logos. Instead of working behind closed doors, Martell and his colleagues have opened up the design process to get the help of the wider Mozilla community.

  • BSD

  • Project Releases

    • littler 0.2.1

      The main change are a few updates and extensions to the examples provided along with littler. Several of those continue to make use of the wonderful docopt package by Edwin de Jonge. Carl Boettiger and I are making good use of these littler examples, particularly to install directly from CRAN or GitHub, in our Rocker builds of R for Docker (about which we should have a bit more to blog soon too).

    • Enca 1.16

      As a first tiny project in this HackWeek, Enca 1.16 has been just released. It mostly brings small code cleanups and missing aliases for languages, but fixes also some minor bugs found by Coverity Scan.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Science

    • 35 Years Ago Today, Spreadsheets Were Invented

      On this day in 1979, a computer program called VisiCalc first shipped for the Apple II platform, marking the birth of the spreadsheet, a now-ubiquitous tool used to compile everything from grocery lists to Fortune 500 company accounts.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • The Authorization to Use Military Force and the Demise of the US Senate

      If any of the mainstream media are to be believed, you would think that the future of the country, the very foundation of our Republic and what’s left of its democracy hung by a thread on the results of the upcoming 2014 Congressional election, especially Republican control of the Senate.

    • The Ukraine, As We Know It, Is Gone Forever
    • You mean the ’30-year war?’

      His remark borders on pathological. To say nothing of its being diplomatically irresponsible and its potential to inflame the determination of extremists. Consider, too, what Panetta crassly disregards — the effect of his words on the morale of the tens of millions of people in the Middle East who yearn for a more peaceful future.

    • Civilians in Pakistan Become Victims of US’s War on Terror

      A new report published by the UK Bureau of Investigative Journalism demonstrates that more than one thousand innocent people in Pakistan appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, becoming victims of the US’s latest war on terror, Alice Slater, New York Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation told RIA Novosti.

    • ‘Only 84 of 2,379 killed by drones were Qaeda terrorists’

      The CIA drones strikes in Pakistan have killed as many as 2,379 people since 2004, but only 84 of the victims have been named al Qaeda terrorists, a report has revealed.

    • Only 84 of 2,379 US drone attacks victims in Pakistan confirmed Al-Qaeda militants – report
    • Good War and Bad Peace: Perpetual War and the Erosion of Liberty

      There is no mention, however, of the fact that perhaps it is the drone war and the armed intervention by the U.S. military or paramilitary (CIA, for example) that is fomenting this hatred and is propelling the drive to savage anything American.

    • The poison pens of Washington – memoirs by former US Secretaries of Defence and directors of CIA

      Here in the US, you write a memoir. Those penned by the former (or just as likely by a ghost writer) are almost invariably tedious, as trite and unreadable as the average campaign manifesto. But when it comes to retrospectives by the great and good, then even a president should fasten his seat belt. Just like Barack Obama right now.

    • “Hundreds of thousands of Iranian fighters” prepared to fight ISIL to the death if so ordered

      The Commander of Iran’s Basij (volunteer) forces Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi said “hundreds of thousands of Iranian fighters stand ready to be dispatched to the battlefields in the region to fight against the terrorists and Takfiri groups, especially ISIL “, according to Fars news agency. “Furthermore they will fight to the death if so ordered”, the general added.

    • Birth of ISIS, ISIL linked to 2003 Iraq war

      Kashmir Watch is reproducing its 2003 article in which the editor has observed that Iraq War will escalate the situation to many countries and involve Arab fighters to join Al Qaeda network which is nowadays shaped as IS, ISIL or ISIS.

    • The lack of transparency in drone attacks

      Afghanistan is the most drone bombed country in the world. The US has been using its Predator and Reaper drones to kill people in Afghanistan since November 2001.

    • What Went Wrong

      The American-led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is proving to be a failure.

    • 13 Years of Permanent War: Unite Peace and Climate Movements

      This month of October presents us with 13 years of permanent war for profit or, as the warmongers call it, the “war against terror”. This “operation” is killing and maiming millions of people especially in the oil rich Middle East. Simultaneously these Juggernaut nations “of the willing” are choking Mother Earth to death—polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that spawns our food, and eradicating millions of species.

    • Guelph-based political commentator facing firearms charges

      Several online news sources have reported that Garrow is a former CIA agent with access to top-level military officials. Many of Garrow’s claims are related to information he says is derived from these unnamed sources, whose anonymity he has sworn to protect.

    • Global Humanity in Search of Peace, Not War

      We, as Americans, need to ask ourselves what all this is about? Why is our government so provocative toward Islam, Russia, China, Iran? What purpose, whose purpose is being served? Certainly not ours…………Where do we go from here? If not to nuclear destruction, Americans must wake up. Football games, porn, and shopping malls are one thing. Survival of human life is another. Washington, that is, “representative government,” consists only of a few powerful vested interests. These private interests, not the American people, control the US government. That is why nothing that the US government does benefits the American people.

    • Islamic State: Britain’s top diplomat says endgame is regime change in Syria
    • Report: US Airstrikes in Syria ‘Kill 10 Civilians’

      Double standard? US claims charges of civilian deaths in Syria are unfounded, claims avoiding deaths ‘not done in the history of warfare.’

    • McCain: US Must Use Ground Troops and Strike at Assad

      Republican Senator John McCain has changed his position on the Islamic State forces, which he is reported to have formerly believed should be armed and trained by the US.

      ​SenatorMcCain has called for the UnitedStates to launch war on SyrianPresident Bashar al-Assad and to launch ground troops against Islamic State group.

    • Classified Internal CIA Study Shows that Its Covert Arming of Foreign Forces Is Often Ineffective
    • CIA Report: Arming Rebels, Without Support, Rarely Works
    • CIA Study: Arming rebels seldom works
    • C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels

      The Central Intelligence Agency has run guns to insurgencies across the world during its 67-year history — from Angola to Nicaragua to Cuba. The continuing C.I.A. effort to train Syrian rebels is just the latest example of an American president becoming enticed by the prospect of using the spy agency to covertly arm and train rebel groups.

    • CIA Report: The CIA Is Fucking Useless
    • CIA Study: Arming Syrian Rebels Won’t Work; Obama Does It Anyway
    • CIA classified review: Covertly arming insurgents doesn’t work
    • CIA Presence in Syria to Support Extremists Denounced
    • CIA Study: Arming Rebels Rarely Works
    • CIA’s Own Study Finds Intervention Is Ineffective
    • CIA study critical of aid to rebels
    • CIA Says Its Often Not Effective to Arm Rebels
    • Syria: What Might Have Been

      The Obama administration, like its predecessors, has used strategic leaks to the press to buttress arguments in which officials are (theoretically) hamstrung by secrecy laws. Usually the Obama administration has done so in order to look tougher than critics give the president credit for being, but in today’s New York Times they’ve taken the opposite tack: a leak designed to support the president’s instinctive caution on Syria. Unfortunately for Obama, the attempt to spin his Syria policy merely reveals just how little the president understands about military strategy and the Middle East.

    • Arming Rebels Doesn’t Work
    • Turkey Decides to Hit Kurdish Rebels Instead of ISIS

      Airstrikes target the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and not the Islamist militants fighting for control of Kobani, a Kurdish city in Syria near the Turkish border

    • ISIS: Turkey Bombs Kurdish Rebels and Not Islamic State, Turkey’s President Calls PKK and ISIS ‘The Same’
    • Turkey lets US strike Islamic State from its bases
    • Former bin Laden Hunter Says Islamic State Needs US To Intervene

      In recent media appearances, ex-chief of the CIA’s bin Laden unit, Michael Scheuer, came out strongly against the latest American military campaign in Iraq. Echoing past criticisms, thoroughly voiced in his books Through Our Enemies Eyes, Marching Toward Hell, and Imperial Hubris, Scheuer offers a case against the new Iraq intervention based on his 20+ years of experience as a US intelligence officer, as well as an intimate and detailed knowledge of Islamic extremism.

      In Scheuer’s view, another US military intervention in the Middle East against groups such as the Islamic State (IS) will not meet its stated objectives, and will fall into the same errors made in past operations of a similar character. Continuing this policy, he says, will only help to motivate and radicalize Muslims the world over, and will provide exactly the impetus IS needs to step up their drive to establish a long-sought Islamic caliphate in the Levant region.

    • “Arming the Rebels” Has Pretty Much Never Worked
    • CIA: When We Arm Rebels, It Almost Never Works
    • CIA Report: Giving Rebels Weapons Without Direct Support Rarely Helps
    • CIA report says lessons to be learned from Nicaragua and Cuba when dealing with Syria
    • Obama’s Effort to Train Syrian Rebels to Fight ISIS Won’t Work: CIA
    • Does Arming Rebels Ever Work?
    • C.I.A. Study of Covert Aid Fueled Skepticism About Helping Syrian Rebels
    • 3 Bloody Reasons the CIA Should Stop Secretly Arming Rebels Around the World

      In a still-classified internal review, the CIA detailed how its previous efforts to covertly arm and train insurgents around the world were rarely successful. The report strongly suggests the agency’s 67-year history of clandestine operations should inform the Obama administration’s not-so-secret efforts to vet and create a Syrian rebel force to fight the Islamic State and the military of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    • CIA warned arming Syrian “rebels” unlikely to succeed
    • CIA Admits That Funding Rebels Doesn’t Work

      The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) gave us the term blowback, and then spent their career encouraging it with foreign interventions. Now, the CIA has found that another one of their habits doesn’t lead to good effects in the real world.

    • Building a new Syrian army would cost billions, report says

      Analysis gives insight into what U.S. President Barack Obama’s long-term game plan could be in regards to Syria and the Islamic State.

      [...]

      But few specific details have been released on how the $500 million will be spent. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on a still-classified CIA review that said arming and training rebels rarely works, which makes Pollack’s analysis even more relevant.

    • America’s Jihad

      It is apt to recall the present Jihad bogeyman arose from the Mujahideen, which was formed by the CIA as a guerrilla force against the Russians in Afghanistan. The “clash of civilizations,” as neocon historians refer to the “war on terrorism,” was a contrivance; not the result of an inexorable historical law. By the end of the First World War much goodwill existed between the Entente and the Arabs who had fought together against the Ottoman Empire, with the expectation that the Arab states would achieve independence, thanks to the heroic efforts of T. E. Lawrence and the Arabic fighters. Their guerrilla war against the Turks had been crucial to the war effort, although subsequently besmirched by Zionist propagandists.[1] Thanks to Zionist machinations, the Entente had spoken with a forked tongue to the Arabs while making a contrary promise to the Zionists to back a Jewish state in Palestine in return for Jewish influence supporting the Entente cause, by then in a predicament, in the USA. The result was the Balfour Declaration and the needless prolongation of the war[2] so that the Zionists and the messianists could get their nose poked into Palestine until such time as being able to dump themselves en masse after the Second World War.

    • Pentagon denies reports Islamic State has chemical weapons

      On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article about chemical weapons disposal in Iraq, noting that IS militants now control Al Muthanna, a former Iraqi chemical weapons manufacturing complex south of Samarra.

    • Israel’s ‘Moral Hazard’ in Gaza

      The passage in the British House of Commons of a resolution favoring recognition of a Palestinian state, coming on the heels of the Swedish government’s announcement of its intention to extend such recognition, is the latest indicator of European disgust with Israeli policies.

    • Panetta Sparks Debate Over U.S. Nuclear Strike on North Korea
    • US was ‘prepared to use nuclear weapons against North Korea’ if troops crossed border

      The US was prepared to use nuclear weapons if North Korean forces crossed the border into South Korea, the former CIA Director and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has claimed in his memoir.

    • ‘US-led air assault against IS to solve America’s economic problem’

      The US-led air assault against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is just to “serve the US’ own interest” and “solve America’s economic problem”, a Syrian official said here Thursday.

      A Syrian diplomat, who declined to be named, alleged that America “takes money from Saudi Arabia” for every strike against the IS, which have failed to yield any tangible result so far.

      Terming the brutal jihadist group Islamic State as a “creation” of the US, the official said the IS “gets support” from Turkey, and described Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as the “caliph” of the Al Qaeda-inspired group that has beheaded two American journalists and two British nationals so far.

    • Op-Ed: Egyptian planes reportedly bomb Islamists in Benghazi

      According to some reports, Egyptian warplanes are bombing Islamist positions in the eastern city of Benghazi that is under the control of an umbrella group of Islamist militias. CIA-linked General Haftar sill controls the airport on the outskirts.

    • Op-Ed: Libyan clashes continues as UN seeks a ceasefire agreement
    • Obama’s Dumb War

      If Barack Obama owes his presidency to one thing, it was the good sense he had back in 2002 to call the Iraq War what it was: “dumb.”

      Now, with scarcely a whisper of debate, Obama has become the fourth consecutive US president to bomb Iraq — and in fact has outdone his predecessors by spreading the war to Islamic State targets in Syria as well. With the Pentagon predicting that this latest conflict could rage for three years or longer, Obama is now poised to leave behind a Middle East quagmire that closely resembles the one he was elected to end.

    • Bashing Obama To Make Way for Hillary

      Three years ago, during the height of the Occupy movement, I was ejected from a Congressional hearing for allegedly “assaulting” Leon Panetta, then Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA. He was testifying to the House Armed Services Committee about “lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade.” I jumped out of my audience seat to tell him that young people were paying the price of those “lessons,” and we were sick of the government funding war instead of education. The baseless assault charges against me were ultimately dropped.

    • Risen Doubts Book Will Provoke Leak Probe

      A new book from The New York Times journalist says a Lebanon bunker may store nearly $2 billion in loot.

    • Billions set aside for post-Saddam Iraq turns up in Lebanese bunker

      Stuart Bowen, who investigated corruption in Iraq, says US and Iraqi governments ignored appeals to recover money

    • Iraq: US Official Tracks Missing Money To Lebanon
    • Missing Iraqi Cash Ended in Lebanon Bunker, report
    • US official: ‘$1.6bn in stolen Iraqi funds hidden in Lebanese bunker’

      More than $1.6 billion in Iraqi funds had been stolen and moved to a bunker in rural Lebanon for safekeeping, the former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen told James Risen, investigative journalist for the New York Times.

    • Greed, Power, and Endless War
    • For James Risen, a Struggle That Never Ends

      Readers of this blog may know that I’m particularly interested in the situation involving James Risen, a Times investigative reporter who is at risk of going to jail to protect a confidential source from his 2006 book, “State of War.”

    • A war on truth?

      A new book by New York Times veteran national security reporter James Risen provides a partial answer. According to Risen, the United States has pursued destructive self-defeating policies which have led the world astray.

      U.S.-led post-9/11 policy has been irrational because it is driven by a constant state of fear which has distorted perceptions and priorities. Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War is important reading for those who believe we must question the narrative set forth by government powerbrokers and amplified by the mainstream media.

      Perhaps the greatest cost of anti-terror mania has been its erosion of press freedoms and a generalized chilling effect on speech. Democracy 101 teaches that good governance requires vigorous and robust open debate so that people may make well-informed and well-reasoned choices.

    • Speed Read: James Risen Indicts The War On Terror’s Costly Follies

      In his new book, ‘Pay Any Price,’ reporter James Risen reports how billions were lost and American rights were infringed when the government went to war on terror.

    • Shameful Side of the War on Terror

      In “Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War,” James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, sets out to portray the many seamy sides of the war on terror during the past 13 years.

      Those willing to overlook his occasionally lumpy prose will be rewarded with a memorable chronicle of the long-range consequences of the panicky reaction of top American officials to the Sept. 11 attacks, from lost billions in taxpayer dollars to the lost life of a former torturer and the smashed dreams of an intelligence whistle-blower.

    • James Risen Subpoena Faces New Review

      The Justice Department is using new guidelines to reconsider whether to demand testimony from New York Times reporter James Risen in connection with a leak case against a former CIA officer, a federal prosecutor said Friday.

    • Hawkish PM Stephen Harper And Party Vote To Authorizes Air Strikes In Iraq

      Canada’s hawkish PM Stephen Harper and his Conservative majority voted this week to authorize airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group in Iraq, which according to many reports were initially trained by the American CIA and are getting their weapons from another western ally Saudi Arabia, begging the question who is really responsible for ISIS’s sudden rise of extremism.

    • Blackwater Founder Wants Mercenaries to Fight ISIS War

      The Islamic State (ISIS) is massacring people in the strategic town of Kobani along the Syrian-Turkish border, indicating that American airstrikes on the terrorist group were not effective. Big-named pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Steven Colbert have been arguing about whether mercenaries should fight America’s war against the Islamic State (ISIS). Now, the ex-chief of the mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater has waded into the debate, and (no surprise) he says absolutely they should.

    • How One Man’s Illness May Have Changed The Course Of Middle Eastern History

      His illness might have made the Shah more willing to abdicate the throne, which he did in early 1979. The author raises the possibility that the cancer may have made the Shah’s decision-making more erratic while sapping his will to cling to power. He may have been “able to give only part of his energy to fighting for Iran’s life, since he was fighting for his own.”

    • The Man Behind “Unmanned”

      I’m not a military strategist, but I knew from common sense that it was not possible for drone strikes to target terrorists with pinpoint accuracy and avoid killing innocent people. The idea that there was some magical piece of weaponry that was going to solve all of our problems got my antennae up immediately.

    • War By Remote-Control

      Attacks by US drones have often been presented as forensic, however, only one in 25 victims in Pakistan have been identifiably associated with al-Qaeda. There have been about 400 US drone attacks in Pakistan. Secret CIA documents recording the identity, rank and affiliation of people targeted and killed in strikes in 2006-08 and 2010-11 were leaked to the McClatchy news agency in April last year. Hundreds of those killed were identified simply as Afghan or Pakistani fighters, or as “unknown”. Of these killed, only 2% might be top commanders. Its not like the Pakistani government is oblivious to these attacks. In the past the US has used its drones to kill militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas in exchange for Pakistani help in targeting al-Qaeda members. In 2013 the New York Times reported that the first known US drone strike in Pakistan, on 17 June 2004, had been part of a secret deal to gain access to Pakistani airspace. The CIA agreed to kill the target, Nek Mohammed, in exchange for permission for its drones to go after US enemies.

    • Florida activists resist Raytheon

      On October 17, activists organized to speak out against the defense contractor Raytheon, which recently received a $251.1 million contract to provide the U.S. Navy with Tomahawk cruise missiles for the following year. The Tomahawk cruise missile has been an integral part of the Obama administration’s military strategy due to its ability to kill large numbers of alleged combatants from faraway distances, without requiring “boots on the ground.” Florida is no stranger to the military-industrial complex. Raytheon, General Dynamics, Honeywell, and Lockheed Martin can all be found within Pinellas County alone.

    • With US-led air strikes on Isis intensifying, it’s a good time to be an arms giant like Lockheed Martin

      Last month American warships fired $65.8m worth of Tomahawk missiles within just 24 hours of each other

    • Anti-war protesters return to engine factory in Shenstone

      Around 100 anti-war protesters held a demonstration at a military engine factory in Staffordshire they claim is supplying weapons to Israel.

    • Gaza and the Bipartisan War on Human Rights

      During and after Israel’s war on Gaza, bipartisan congressional majorities have worked to undermine war crimes investigations by the United Nations and human rights groups

    • If we must have a hugely invasive national security state, let’s at least listen to it

      I am no fan of America’s national-security state, which continues to grow steadily larger, more intrusive, and increasingly dismissive of civil liberties. The NSA has removed all expectations of privacy in digital communications, and the TSA is, at best, inept security theater. The Department of Homeland Security’s “If you see something, say something” campaign imagines a terrorist around every corner, while the CIA is busy spying on Congress and torturing away the rule of law.

    • Shaping the Vietnam Narrative

      Controlling the narrative is a key tool for propagandists who realize that how people understand a foreign conflict goes a long way toward determining their support or opposition. So, the U.S. government’s sanitizing of the Vietnam War is not just about history, but the present, as Marjorie Cohn writes.

    • Who Supported the Khmer Rouge?

      According to journalist Elizabeth Becker, U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski “himself claims that he concocted the idea of persuading Thailand to cooperate fully with China in its efforts to rebuild the Khmer Rouge.” Brzezinski said, “I encouraged the Chinese to support Pol Pot. I encouraged the Thai to help the D.K. [Khmer Rouge government-in-exile of Democratic Kampuchea]. The question was how to help the Cambodian people. Pol Pot was an abomination. We could never support him, but China could.” In fact, U.S. support went well beyond encouraging others to rebuild the Khmer Rouge.

    • No, Chemical Weapons in Iraq Do Not Prove That Bush Was Right to Invade

      Bush’s approval ratings, which peaked at 70% during the March 2003 invasion, had plummeted to 48% by the time the CIA weighed in. The Administration could have used an example of, “Look, we were right!” But rather than tout the discovery of remnants chemical weapons from the 1980s, the Pentagon went to extreme lengths to cover it up. The harm these weapons posed to U.S. troops was unanticipated and the injuries they were suffering were an embarrassment.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The Man Who Tricked Chemtrails Conspiracy Theorists

      On October 1, Chris Bovey—a 41-year-old from Devon, England—thought he’d troll the chemtrails camp. During a flight from Buenos Aires to the UK, his plane had to make an emergency landing in São Paulo and dumped excess fuel to lighten the load. Since he had a window seat, Chris decided to film all the liquid being sprayed out of the wing next to him.

      Touching down, he uploaded the video with a caption that suggested it could be evidence of chemtrails, hoping to mess with a couple of friends who he knew might fall for it. The video now has 1.1 million views, nearly 20,000 shares, and dozens of comments telling viewers to “wake the F up,” or accusing naysayers of being “stupid paid shills.”

      He then claimed (falsely) that he’d been detained at Heathrow upon arrival, been interrogated by the authorities, and had his phone confiscated. That riled everyone up even more, with “conspiraloon” (Chris’s term) website NeonNettle.com picking up the story and reporting it as evidence of chemtrails.

    • Sao Paulo could go dry in mid-November

      Dilma Pena, chief executive of the state-run water utility, told the city council Thursday that supplies are guaranteed only until mid-November unless it can tap the last of the water in its Cantareira reservoir. The four-lake complex that supplies half of Sao Paulo has already been drained of 96 percent of its water capacity amid Brazil’s worst drought in eight decades. Regulators have so far refused to allow Cia. de Saneamento Basico do Estado de Sao Paulo, known as Sabesp, to use the rest on concern it’s mismanaging supplies.

    • Oil prices are at a 4 year-low now but assuming that they will continue to fall is risky business

      Oil prices have been falling for a while now and have touched a four-year low. As per the data published by the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, the price of the Indian basket of crude oil touched $ 82.83 per barrel on October 16, 2014.

  • Finance

    • Ending a 36 year, 17+ Trillion Dollar U.S. Government Ponzi Scheme
    • The Tory message to disabled people: you’re just not worth it

      Lord Freud’s comments on the minimum wage articulates what we already know – that this government sees disabled people as less than human

    • How a Hong Kong Newspaper Became an Occupy Movement Flashpoint

      To the anti-Occupy protesters, Apple Daily has become a sort of avatar for everything they dislike about the movement – and particularly for the charge that the Occupy protests are sponsored by nefarious foreign forces. On Chinese social media sites, Apply Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is rumored to have ties to the CIA, and to be funneling CIA funds to the Occupy protestors. In an interview with South China Morning Post, Lai dismissed the idea that he is personally influencing the movement. Lai said that he had not donated any money to the founders of the Occupy Central movement, although he has donated to pro-democracy politicians in the past and is friends with several of them.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change.

      The people we elect aren’t the ones calling the shots, says Tufts University’s Michael Glennon

    • Twitter – You’ll like it because we say you will.

      I’ve a policy of blocking any user who promotes their Tweets. Looks like I’ll be blocking the random strangers too. I think Twitter, like other online services will quickly realise that users have a plethora of other options open to them. Social media is transient and the next FB or Twitter is just around the corner (as well as the plethora of options already available). Having these type of “features” is no bad thing, but take away people’s ability to remove them and you’ll find your user-base looking elsewhere.

    • Our Exclusive Interview with German Editor Turned CIA Whistleblower

      Fascinating details emerge. Leading US-funded think-tanks and German secret service are accessories. Attempted suppression by legal threats. Blackout in German media.

    • German journo: European media writing pro-US stories under CIA pressure (VIDEO)

      German journalist and editor Udo Ulfkotte says he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, adding that noncompliance ran the risk of being fired. Ulfkotte made the revelations during interviews with RT and Russia Insider.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • NSA Documents Suggest a Close Working Relationship Between NSA, U.S. Companies

      The documents, published last week by The Intercept, describe “contractual relationships” between the NSA and U.S. companies, as well as the fact that the NSA has “under cover” spies working at or with some U.S. companies.

    • The NSA’s Moonlighting Problem
    • Peter Carey: ‘Privacy should be a human right, but we’ve been tricked out of it – it’s easy to give information away. It is sort of evil’

      Double Booker winner Peter Carey was always unimpressed by the decision to open the prize up to American authors. “I find it unimaginable that the Pulitzer or the National Book award would ever open their prizes up to Britons and Australians,” he says. The “old Booker” had a “particular cultural flavour”, he adds. “I think there was, and there is, a real Commonwealth culture. It’s different. America doesn’t really feel to be a part of that.” As for this year’s America-expanded award, Carey was rooting for the eventual winner, and fellow Australian, Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North – “a serious guy who can really write”.

    • How cloud computing – and other new technology – could lead to the destruction of humanity

      It isn’t just about cloud computing, though, but big data and other emerging technologies too. Big data is the name given to a new breed of analytic technologies, which can take disparate bits and bytes of data in order to make links that conventional analytic software cannot – something that will dovetail well with neuromorphic computing. And it can do this in real-time, as well – there’s no need to extract existing alpha-numeric information from an operational database into a separate system, it can do it in seconds, on-the-fly.

    • Mark Udall Touts NSA Reform (and Dings Obama) in Bid to Save Senate Seat

      Sen. Mark Udall is reminding Colorado voters that he opposes the government’s mass spy apparatus, and that he’s willing to take on President Obama as he endeavors to pull it back.

    • Edward Snowden talks privacy in the golden age of signal communication (VIDEO)

      Government whistleblower and former system administrator for the CIA, Edward Snowden, gave an extended virtual interview over the weekend at the New Yorker Festival about his current situation and why he chose to reveal certain government secrets that changed the way we think about privacy in America. During his hour-long chat with Jane Mayer of The New Yorker Snowden advised those who really want to protect their privacy will want to stop using such services as Dropbox, Google and Facebook. He also said to search for “encrypted communication services” because they “enforce your rights.” He gave a few examples such as SpiderOak instead of Dropbox, and alternative phone services like Silent Circle and RedPhone. He covers a lot more ground as well.

    • President Nixon offered to illegally wiretap Mayor John Lindsay for Gov. Nelson Rockefeller: report

      A new biography of Rockefeller, ‘On His Own Terms,’ by Richard Norton Smith reports the proposal, which is based on previously undisclosed material.

    • Police departments using private funds to buy spy tech originally developed for the CIA

      In 2007, as it pushed to build a state-of-the-art surveillance facility, the Los Angeles Police Department cast an acquisitive eye on software being developed by Palantir, a startup funded in part by the Central Intelligence Agency’s venture capital arm.

    • WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Fears Ecuadorian Embassy in London is Bugged: Reports

      The founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange has fears that the embassy of Ecuador in London, where he has been staying since 2012, is under auditory surveillance, Daily Mail reported.

      Julian Assange “is most likely under auditory surveillance,” WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers said in a statement filed in the Court of Appeal in Sweden on Friday, the newspaped said. Assange’s lawyers also added that his confinement in the embassy is a “deprivation of liberty.”

    • Kickstarter Suspends Anonabox Security Appliance Project

      The Anonabox episode serves to highlight the simple fact that there is a great hunger in the marketplace for easily deployed privacy solutions.

    • Tomgram: Laura Poitras and Tom Engelhardt, The Snowden Reboot

      In these years, as power drained from Congress, an increasingly imperial White House has launched various wars (redefined by its lawyers as anything but), as well as a global assassination campaign in which the White House has its own “kill list” and the president himself decides on global hits. Then, without regard for national sovereignty or the fact that someone is an American citizen (and upon the secret invocation of legal mumbo-jumbo), the drones are sent off to do the necessary killing.

    • New York Times: Snowden-Boosting Documentary Causing Headaches for ‘Hollywood Obama Backers’
    • Secrecy policy doesn’t make sense

      The government has become the arbiter of who gets information and who doesn’t.

    • Subjecting press freedom to the spook of national security

      The conditions under which journalists work are becoming more dangerous as governments around the world clamp down on their freedom in the guise oaf safeguarding national security, writes TITUS MBUYA

    • Secure Email and Cloud Alternatives to Gmail and Dropbox

      While there is no denying that end-to-end encryption beefs up security and helps protect data from being snooped by third parties, it’s definitely not a silver bullet that can guarantee a completely secure way to communicate on the Internet. That said, it’s always a good idea to go for services that offer an extra layer of security because after all it’s likely you’ll use them for storing and sending sensitive data like your own personal information.

    • “Mistaken U.S. practices” discourage China to resume cyber-security talks

      The ongoing cyber-war between USA and China has gone more intense. Reportedly, top Chinese diplomat in his statement to John Kerry, US Secretary of State, said that owing to “mistaken U.S. practices”, it would be difficult resuming cyber-security cooperation between USA and China.

    • Decentralize to Protect Your Rights

      Writing in her ground-breaking book, History of the American Revolution, Mercy Otis Warren – known as the Muse of the Revolution – asked why people were so willing to obey the government and answers that it is supineness, fear of resisting, and the long habit of obedience.

    • Surveillance Reform Theater

      The concept of a secret golden key for authorities is a zombie idea from the 1990s. I’m talking about what’s known in cryptographic circles as “key escrow.” Under key escrow vendors create a built-in decryption password (also known as a decryption key) that’s held in escrow. When law enforcement agents supply a court order they can acquire the corresponding decryption key.

    • Top NSA critic could lose seat

      Critics of the government’s spy agencies are worried that Colorado’s hotly contested Senate race could end the public career of one of their best allies in Congress.

    • Fed-backed Twitter study draws fire

      Commissioner Ajit Pai — one of two Republicans on the five-member commission — warned in a Washington Post op-ed on Saturday about a National Science Foundation study of people’s communications on Twitter, which he said amounted to government monitoring of people’s speech.

    • ‘What they fear is light’ — Greenwald tells the Snowden story

      Glenn Greenwald’s No Place To Hide is not just a thrilling account of the award-winning journalist’s “cloak-and-dagger” encounter with National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, but a clinical and impassioned analysis of the danger posed by the US’s vast surveillance state.

      Greenwald, no tech-head, nearly blew his opportunity for the dramatic scoop because of his delays in installing a computer encryption program for communication with Snowden, until guided mouse-click by mouse-click by the whistleblower.

    • Did PH and the US gang up on Carlos Bulosan?

      Last year, the scholars wrote about the files they obtained that showed the FBI had its eye on Bulosan between 1946 and 1956.

      The FBI ultimately determined Bulosan was not a member of the Communist Party.

    • The governmnt & freedom

      Since 2001, Comey’s agents have written more than half a million of their own search warrants and their targets don’t even know what was done to them. He will argue that if the evidence from these agent-written warrants is not used in court, there is no harm to the unknowing victim and, hence, no foul. Yet the Constitution was written to keep the government from interfering with our natural rights even when it does so in secret — because no government violation of inalienable rights is harmless.

    • Lawmakers probing NSA face German secrecy hurdles

      German lawmakers probing the NSA following Edward Snowden’s revelations have hit a hurdle: their own government.

      Officials have refused to hand over dozens of German intelligence documents detailing the extent to which the country’s spy agencies cooperated with their U.S. counterparts.

    • Russia founds Snowden media prize

      The media community has founded the first prize in the sphere of mass communications, naming it after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

  • Civil Rights

    • Obama Could Reaffirm a Bush-Era Reading of a Treaty on Torture
    • What’s Holding Up Release Of The CIA ‘Torture Report’?
    • Tortured Libyans allege UK spied on legal talks

      Lawyers for two Libyan men, rendered and tortured with alleged British complicity, have demanded the government publish secret policies detailing when the communications of lawyers and journalists may have been intercepted.

      The issue emerged during a legal claim against the government by Abdel Hakim Belhaj and Sami Al-Saadi. Both men and their families were kidnapped and returned to Libya to face punishment in 2004, following years of anti-regime activity.

    • Blowing the Whistle on CIA Torture from Beyond the Grave

      In the fall of 2006, Nathaniel Raymond, a researcher with the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights, got a call from a man professing to be a CIA contractor. Scott Gerwehr was a behavioral science researcher who specialized in “deception detection,” or figuring out when someone was lying. Gerwehr told Raymond “practically in the first five minutes” that he had been at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo in the summer of 2006, but had left after his suggestion to install video-recording equipment in detainee interrogation rooms was rejected. “He said, ‘I wouldn’t operate at a facility that didn’t tape. It protects the interrogators and it protects the detainees,’” Raymond recalls.

    • Senate Report Ignores Bush Administration’s Role in CIA’s Torture Program

      A Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) report on the CIA and the “enhanced interrogation” methods used in the Iraq War fails to place any blame on George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, or the administration’s top lawyers, reported McClatchy.

    • U.S. Senate inquiry into harsh CIA tactics sidesteps Bush role
    • Senate refuses to blame Bush, senior aides in CIA torture investigation

      A classified US Senate probe into the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program does not evaluate the role of former President George W. Bush or top administration officials in approving abuses including torture, according to a new report.

    • Bush, Obama ‘complicit’ in CIA torture program: Eric Draitser

      Draitser also argued that the US is not simply a country with a president and it is the head of an Imperial system that justifies torture, genocide, and war.

    • Obama could follow Bush-era reading of torture treaty

      When the Bush administration revealed in 2005 that it was secretly interpreting a treaty ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” as not applying to CIA and military prisons overseas, President Barack Obama, then a newly elected Democratic senator from Illinois, joined in a bipartisan protest.

      Obama supported legislation to make it clear that U.S. officials were legally barred from using cruelty anywhere in the world. And in a Senate speech, he said enacting such a statute “acknowledges and confirms existing obligations” under the treaty, the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

    • 25 years ago: US role exposed in failed Panamanian coup

      On October 13, 1989, US President George H.W. Bush repeated a call for the overthrow of the regime of Gen. Manuel Noriega in Panama. Ten days earlier, on October 3, a coup attempt against Noriega ended in disaster, resulting in the roundup of scores of “rebels” and execution of many of the leaders. For months, Bush had been publicly urging Panamanian military forces to overthrow Noriega, declaring in May, “I would love to see them get him out.”

    • An undocumented history

      The United States has had a long standing tradition of intervention in Guatemala. In 1954, the U.S. government aided the overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan President, Jacobo Arbenz . Arbenz had confiscated a large portion of land belonging to the United Fruit Company that was not being cultivated, offering the company the amount they had declared on their taxes . The company, with support from the U.S. State Department, countered with a figure more than 13 times that amount .

    • End America’s perverse embargo against Cuba
    • Jesse Jackson Says It’s Time for US to End Cuban Embargo

      The Rev. Jesse Jackson has called for an end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba over the last 52 years, in an op-ed published on Tuesday by the Chicago Sun-Times.

      “The implacable opposition of the U.S. government to Cuba’s presence in hemispheric meetings has practically offended all our neighbors,” said Jackson, who acknowledged that this policy of strangulation against the Caribbean island has operated to isolate Washington.

    • End America’s perverse embargo against Cuba
    • The Economic War on Cuba: Western Media Remains Silent as Obama Extends U.S. Embargo
    • Jesse Jackson Describes U.S. Policy against Cuba as Cold and Old-Fashioned War

      U.S. Reverend Jesse Jackson called to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba over the last 52 years, as published on Tuesday by the Web site of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper.

      “The implacable opposition of the U.S. government to Cuba’s presence in hemispheric meetings has practically offended all our neighbors,” underlined Jackson, who acknowledged that this policy of strangulation against the Caribbean island has contributed to isolate Washington.

      Jackson, a prominent civil rights activist and a Baptist pastor, who was a candidate to the presidential primaries of the Democrat Party in 1984 and 1988, assured that the blockade against Cuba should have been lifted decades ago.

    • Stop The US Blockade Of Cuba Now – OpEd

      And for the last 52 years, U.S. imperialism has maintained this blockade, this economic war against the government and the people of Cuba.

      Why? Because since the 1959 Revolution, the people of Cuba have shown the world, particularly the people of Latin America and Africa, that despite being a small country; despite a legacy of cruel, colonial rule; despite one dictator after another ruling with an iron grip to serve U.S. corporations; despite racism so powerful that the last of those dictators, who was Black, could not even go onto the U.S. hotel’s beaches — despite all of that, an organized people led by determined revolutionaries could break U.S. imperialism’s grip.

    • CIA Never Makes Mistakes, Only Coups

      The USA Governor (Presidential Envoy) Paul Premier to Iraq after the invasion of 2003 said in an interview with the Arabia TV Satellite lately that the CIA never mistakes. This in our view is the biggest lie ever broadcasted to the world by any American official. Although lies are part and parcel of the USA foreign and even internal policies strategies for decades but to lie shamelessly in the face of the whole world shows the degree of ignorance of the USA past and present officials.

    • My Last Talk with Gary Webb

      His Dark Alliance series was attacked not for what it said

    • CIA-backed war against Nicaragua, integrity of U.S. media subject of new film
    • WPost’s Slimy Assault on Gary Webb

      Jeff Leen, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations, begins his renewed attack on the late Gary Webb’s Contra-cocaine reporting with a falsehood.

      Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that “an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.” But Leen must know that it is not true. Many extraordinary claims, such as assertions in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding arsenals of WMDs, were published as flat-fact without “extraordinary proof” or any real evidence at all, including by Leen’s colleagues at the Washington Post.

      A different rule actually governs American journalism — that journalists need “extraordinary proof” if a story puts the U.S. government or an “ally” in a negative light but pretty much anything goes when criticizing an “enemy.”

    • The CIA and the art of the ‘un-cover-up’

      In late 1996, John Deutch, at the time director of the CIA, traveled to a town meeting in South Central Los Angeles to confront a community outraged by charges that the Agency had been complicit in the importing of cocaine into California in the 1980s. Amid heated exchanges, Deutch publicly pledged an internal investigation by the CIA’s inspector general that would “leave no stone unturned.”
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    • Fiction review: ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings,’ by Marlon James

      A Brief History of Seven Killings explores the possibility that the assassination attempt was part of the CIA’s destabilization campaign against Jamaica’s socialist-leaning government. The novel consists of first-person vignettes from more than 20 characters. These include a dead politician, a CIA station chief and rival gang leaders. Marley fades into the background, a foil for the others’ actions.

    • The alternative to neo-liberalism ― Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj

      The countries comprising the ‘Triad’ 9 (especially its Anglo-Saxon core – Triad is a term used by Samir Amin to refer to the US, Western Europe and Japan) would be extremely unhappy with us for setting a bad example to other countries and regions. If we move decisively against neo-liberalism, then it would be extremely naïve of us to assume they would not respond as they responded

      to Iran in the early 1950s (the CIA engineered a coup to displace Mohammad Mossadegh, the democratically elected, widely popular Prime Minster of Iran who had the “temerity” to nationalise Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP). Mossadegh was replaced by the Shah of Iran. The emergence of conservative militant Islam in West Asia is due in large part to continual attempts by the US and Britain to undermine and displace progressive secular leaders who attempted to wrest back control of their country’s resources that has been monopolised by these colonial/imperialist powers),

      to Cuba since 1960,

      to Chile in 1973 (the CIA sponsored a coup that deposed President Salvador Allende after months of economic sanctions – refusal to buy Chilean copper, and a boss’ strike. President Allende died of gunshot wounds in his Presidential Palace on 11 September 1973, the day of the coup. Tens of thousands of leftists and labour activists were butchered by Augusto Pinochet’s regime in the subsequent weeks)

      and to Afghanistan in the 1970s (the CIA worked with Pakistani intelligence to create a militant Islamic response against the left-leaning governments that replaced the Afghan monarchy in 1973. This eventually morphed into the Taliban).

      We have to factor in the probability that members of the Triad would promote racial and religious sectarianism to sabotage our efforts to build a society based on a different model.

    • Answers sought on CIA role in ‘78 JFK probe

      In the end, the House Select Committee on Assassinations reported in 1978 that it believed the assassination was probably the result of a conspiracy, although it couldn’t prove that, and its conclusions are disputed by many researchers.

    • Was RFK a JFK Conspiracy Theorist?

      What did the attorney general know, and when did he know it?

    • Jackie Kennedy believed Lyndon Johnson killed JFK

      It has been widely reported that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, widow of President John F. Kennedy, shared with family members she was certain that Kennedy’s Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson, arranged to have her husband murdered.

      Soon that conclusion will be heard in the late First Lady’s own words, because audio tapes, recorded of discussions with historian and close family associate, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., between March and June 1964, will be released and excerpts featured on an upcoming ABC News program in November marking the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas.

    • Book Review: ‘The Hidden Hand: A Brief History of the CIA’

      Whoa! This implies that the world’s best interests are those of the U.S.; that the CIA with all its predispositions and preconceptions could actually improve the situation; which ignores the fact that the CIA, among other U.S. institutions, helped create many if not most of these “armed insurrectionists” in the first place. It makes one wonder why they do not know very much about them, as they were convenient at the time, but then allowed to disappear from the radar so that in the future they could become another valuable convenient evil ‘other’ that the U.S. and the CIA had to do battle with.

    • Giving terror events less frightening names may ease fears

      Acts of terror are primarily intended to 1) degrade trust by a people in the ability of their government to defend and protect them and 2) deliver blows to the economy and bleed critical resources into protecting against attacks.

    • US Defense Secretary Panetta’s memoirs reveal poor judgment

      Leon Panetta, after twenty months as U.S. Secretary of Defense and before that two years as director of the CIA, has brought forth memoirs. The volume is blunt in criticizing others, including President Barack Obama. This imitates Robert Gates, Panetta’s immediate predecessor at the Pentagon.

      Cabinet members, including defense secretaries, have published memoirs but not while the administration in which they served was still in power. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also brought out a book. However, her committee document is more diplomatic, calculating and careful in distancing herself from the president while simultaneously expressing loyalty.

    • Yemen unravels

      President Barack Obama cited Yemen as a model for U.S. operations against the Islamic State last month, not long after he told an interviewer that the intervention in Libya was his greatest foreign policy regret. In fact, the two countries offer similar lessons in the deficiencies of Obama’s strategy. By backing local forces with airpower in Libya, the United States and its allies were able to overthrow a murderous regime — but, as Obama acknowledged, the failure to assist with building a state afterward has facilitated Libya’s collapse into chaos.

    • New Evidence Links CIA to APA’s “War on Terror” Ethics

      New information may soon be revealed by the Senate Intelligence Committee’s yet-to-be-released report on the CIA’s post-9/11 abusive and torturous detention and interrogation operations. But what already has been clear for a long time – through reports from journalists, independent task forces, congressional investigations, and other documents – is that psychologists and other health professionals were directly involved in brutalizing “war on terror” prisoners in U.S. custody. Of particular note, contract psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen have been identified as the architects of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which included waterboarding, stress positions, exposure to extreme cold, sensory and sleep deprivation, and isolation.

    • The Absurd Illusions of a Shining City on a Hill

      The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There’s one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that’s contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it’s likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors. This is all happening while the general population takes great pride in having a capitalist-democracy as their social-economic model for the stated purposes of providing equal rights, freedom, justice for all, and an all-inclusive participation in the political system. While in all truth, the capitalist-democracy in question has been corrupted directly by the legislation in place and the collective society’s inability to keep the system working for its stated and intended purposes.

    • U.S. denial of soldiers’ injuries is outrageous

      IN A POWERFUL and Pulitzer-worthy scoop, the New York Times has just revealed a new outrage upon America’s sense of decency–by catching government officials in the act of breaking faith with the men and women who volunteered to fight for us in faraway lands.

    • Washington Week on Human Rights: October 14, 2014

      KERRY TO CAIRO Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo today to participate in an international conference of 50 nations pledging $5 billion to rebuild the Gaza Strip. He met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday to press the former military leader to adopt greater democratic reforms. Last week, Human Rights First urged Secretary Kerry to publicly raise concern over the Egyptian government’s ongoing human rights abuses during his visit and to leave no doubt that the United States expects the Egyptian government to end its widespread and counterproductive human rights violations. Instances of violence and terrorism in Egypt have increased since President Sisi took power and began a violent crackdown on political opponents, fueling radicalization and shutting down avenues for peaceful political dissent. and several other advocacy organizations signed a letter organized by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) that was sent to officials with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security. According to reports from detainees, workers have allegedly taken mothers from their cells in the middle of the night to engage in sexual acts and have groped women in front of children. An ICE spokesperson said that the department has a zero tolerance for all forms of sexual abuse or assault and that the accusations will be investigated.

    • Should she have declined the Nobel Peace Prize?

      To be fair to her, Malala did not ask for the Nobel Peace Prize, nor did she lobby for it. In all probability, her handlers did, because for them, it was the crowning glory of the agenda they have been pursuing through her ever since she was whisked away from Pakistan. Intelligent as she is, I wonder if the thought has ever occurred to her for even a moment that she is being exploited.

    • Malala becomes lightning rod for anger over neglect of her hometown
    • Our Opinion: Standing up for the children

      When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai, most people stood up and applauded the decision. Here was a young woman who faced down the Taliban by going to school everyday and received a bullet in the head for her efforts. Since recovering from the 2012 attack that nearly took her life, Yousafzai has been a tireless advocate for the rights of girls and women.

    • THE CONTROVERTIAL NOBEL PRIZE FOR PEACE

      George Galloway, a renowned British politician says, ‘If Malala had been murdered in a US drone strike, the UK media would never have told you her name.’ Someone commenting upon the Nobel Prize awarded to Malala said, ‘If Malala is blessed with the Nobel Prize just because the Taliban tried to murder her, an award must also be given to Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi.’ Abeer was a 14-year-old Iraqi girl. She was gang raped by five U.S. Army soldiers and killed in her house in Yusufiyah (Iraq) in 2006. She was raped and murdered after her parents and six-year-old sister Hadeel Qasim Hamza were killed.

    • The other Pakistani girl: Malala got the Nobel peace prize; here is why Nabila won’t

      Last week, the Nobel Peace Prize committee announced two winners: Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi for their struggle for the rights of children. While for most Indians K Satyarthi’s name was a bit of a mystery, Malala was already a widely known international figure, her personal story documented on magazine covers around the world.

    • Why not Malala?… By Faiza
    • America’s fear

      The collective effect of these and other fears is debilitating. The powerful can-do optimism that has helped drive this country to almost incomprehensible successes is sapped by the anxiety of suspecting that America can’t quite get it done anymore.

    • Controversial town hall meeting on Islam to be held in Edmond

      Alton Nolen, who was fired before the alleged attack, was charged with the crime and Blair told KOCO he feels Nolen’s recent conversion to Islam should not be overlooked.

    • Temple University symposium to focus on role music played in slavery’s underground railroad

      A symposium at Temple University will focus on the role music played in the underground railroad that was used to help American slaves escape the South for northern states or Canada.

      The Rev. Joe Williams, pastor of Mount Airy United Fellowship church, explains that some that some songs still sung by churchgoers today actually contained coded messages for slaves, KYW-TV reported Sunday.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Nintendo Bricks Wii U Consoles Unless Owners Agree To New EULA

      Nintendo: it protects what it believes it owns with great vigor. The company has rarely missed an opportunity to make sure that other people are not allowed to alter or mess with the stuff Nintendo insists is Nintendo’s. In an apparent effort to maximize the irony combo-meter, Nintendo also has been known to make sure that customers don’t mess with or alter the properties those customers actually own, such as online support for games that Nintendo decided to alter long after purchase… just because.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • SCMP.com page views double after paywall lowered for Occupy Central coverage

        Hong Kong English-language newspaper the South China Morning Post has reported a large spike in traffic to its website, scmp.com, since it lowered its paywall to give readers free access to its coverage of the Occupy Central protests.

        Page views have increased by 110 per cent from 28 September, the first day of the protests, until 17 October, compared to the preceding three weeks. Unique users have jumped 45 per cent over the same time period, the paper told Mumbrella.

      • Led Zeppelin loses first court battle in “Stairway to Heaven” lawsuit

        Led Zeppelin lost the first court battle in a lawsuit that alleges the legendary British band stole parts of the iconic song “Stairway to Heaven.”

        The suit, filed in June by the heirs of Randy Craig Wolfe or “Randy California,” founding member of the band Spirit, was filed in Pennsylvania. “Under what’s known as the ‘effects test,’” Billboard explained, “Michael Skidmore, the trustee for the Wolfe trust (and evidently, a Massachusetts resident), can bring his action in Pennsylvania if he alleges an intentional tort, the plaintiff felt the brunt of the harm there, and the defendants aimed their conduct there.”

        The band filed a motion to have the suit dismissed because they are all British and have no ties to Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for Led Zeppelin, “U.S. District Court Judge Juan Sánchez has now denied the motion to dismiss or transfer without prejudice,” The Hollywood Reporter stated. However, the judge gave no specific reasoning.

        The lawsuit’s defendants include Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and their music companies.

        There is an oft-told story surrounding the writing of “Stairway to Heaven,” holed up in a cabin in Wales.

How Patent Lawyers Analyze Alice v. CLS Bank

Posted in Patents at 5:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Breaking down a patent lawyer’s analysis of a Supreme Court’s decision that seemingly invalidated hundreds of thousands of software patents

SHORTLY after the Alice v. CLS Bank ruling we gave several dozens of examples where patent lawyers either denied the impact of this ruling/decision on software patents or simply downplayed it. We now know that they were wrong — not necessarily lying — as software patents are being squashed by the patent office and the courts. Lawsuits have almost halved in number. The same thing happened after In Re Bilski; in sheer numbers (number of articles), patent lawyers tried to impose/project their will onto the law, overriding what’s true and what shall become legal practice. It’s rather appalling. They capture the system. Since many journalists quote these people (especially in the corporate media), it matters a lot.

“These “legal” publications tend to be more like cults of subcultures where the reality can be vastly different from that which everyone else observes.”Despite all this evidence, some patent lawyers would rather continue to ignore the facts or simply lie (at the very least distort). The other day Kelley Drye & Warren LLP published a so-called ‘analysis’ in a legal publication. These “legal” publications tend to be more like cults of subcultures where the reality can be vastly different from that which everyone else observes. David W. Long, from the Washington (DC) office of this firm, wrote this:

Patent System Benefits From Supreme Court Guidance In Alice v. CLS Bank

Benefit, right? Tell us more.

This case primarily impacts software- or computer-implemented inventions. Alice dealt with a patent on a generic computer implementing a conventional business practice of using a third-party intermediary (clearing house or escrow agent) to mitigate the “settlement risk” that a party cannot fulfill its obligation in a transaction. Each side’s consideration is exchanged once the intermediary receives the required consideration from both sides. The issue presented was whether someone could patent using generic computer components to implement “the abstract idea of intermediate settlement” that is a long-standing “fundamental practice” and “building block of the modern economy.” The Court said no.

Right. No means no. Go on then.

The short answer is: incrementally. There’s nothing earth shattering about Alice.

Except the invalidation of many software patents? Right, let’s just ignore that.

The Court applied prior decisions to a new set of facts, resulting in incremental guidance on this nuance issue. The bigger impact of Alice is that it resolved a stalemate in the Federal Circuit appeals court that is tasked with developing patent law.

CAFC has been thoroughly discredited in this area and it was found to be corrupt. It’s quite a miracle that it continues to exist, albeit some corrupt people got ousted.

Here, the Federal Circuit judges agreed that the patent claims were invalid, but they disagreed as to why and, thus, gave no guidance to practitioners. Stalemates and attendant uncertainty often happen in these gray mushy areas, so it’s significant that the Supreme Court decision breaks the stalemate to keep progress flowing.

The problem is, none of the judges (or justices) actually understands computers properly; none can write a computer program. Why are people with a fancy gown, a wooden hammer (gavel, but probably no longer a wig) deemed more competent to rule on matters such as software patents and APIs than technical folks who most likely don a T-shirt and a portable music player? Legal threatre is doing a great deal of damage to the technical community and this hurts customers (that’s everyone) too.

There has been incremental development on what is an unpatentable abstract idea, and that development should continue. So far, the Court has addressed patent eligibility in cases that involved well-known, or old, abstract ideas: Bilski was about financial hedging, and Alice was about third-party intermediaries to settle a financial contract. The really interesting question is: what do the courts do when someone develops a wholly new abstract idea?

If it’s abstract, then it does not matter if it’s new.

When someone first intuited, for example, that 2+2=4 and 2*2=4 and 22=4, this was a completely new insight. While it may have contributed greatly to society to know, it is still a fundamental building block that could not be patented from day one. If it were patented, you couldn’t build a car or anything else without paying a license fee every time that fundamental mathematical relationship was used. So we may see interesting developments in the way courts handle generic computer implementation of new abstract ideas, though such case law development will be a marathon, not a sprint.

Mathematics was not much of a new insight. It was only formalised at some later stage, using some particular notation, e.g. decimal numbers (base 10). At no stage was a patent suitable and just because we encode mathematics in binary form now (or let machines do so) does not mean we are entitled to patents.

Some patents will have this issue, but that’s par for the course since any patent might be challenged on any number of grounds, such as prior art or definiteness. The news is that Alice gave us helpful tools that practitioners can use in evaluating patents, and we will see development in this area near term. Already, we’re seeing that more district courts are invalidating patents on this ground at the motion-to-dismiss stage, which is very early in the litigation process compared to the practice before Alice.

So here he is admitting that Alice v. CLS Bank did in fact change things. Why not take this further and state that software patents are now in trouble or perpetual demise? Well, granted, as even Mr. WatchTroll himself (IP Watchdog) admitted a couple of months ago, if you tell the “legal community” that software patents (or any patent type for that matter) are going away, you’re likely to be ridiculed or chastised. The problem is, the press likes to quote people who are patent lawyers for insight on patent law.

The bottom line is, whenever reading some so-called ‘analysis’ from patent lawyers about software patents, be careful. They are not writing like journalists but more like marketing people trying to attract potential clients. In the corporate press, so-called ‘journalists’ treat these ‘marketing people’ as credible authority on these subjects.

Is It Google’s Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

Posted in America, Google, IBM, Patents at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelle Lee
Photo from Asian Pacific Fund

Summary: The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests

IT IS no longer just rumour or suspicion that USPTO nominates Lee as new director. This is possibly going to result in an appointment, showing us yet again that corporate stewards are truly in charge of the government, not just in the United States. Industrial bodies are full of “revolving door”-type scenarios and altercations.

This probably is not as bad as nominating Philip Johnson (it didn't go down well) or David Kappos from IBM (both big and vocal proponents of software patents), but it’s still not a good thing, either. As we showed in past years, Google had hired many patent lawyers rather than fight software patents; Michelle Lee may therefore be part of the problem. Not much is known about her to Wikipedia. He career at Google was very short (going back to when Google hired patent lawyers) and her career before this is not even mentioned. We wrote about her when she was appointed and even in 2012 when sources said she might lead a Silicon Valley patent office (hence software patents). According to a USPTO press releases, “Lee worked as a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard” (a proponent of software patents). But much of the private sector stuff is usually omitted. To quote this press release: “Prior to becoming Director of the Silicon Valley USPTO, Lee served two terms on the USPTO’s Patent Public Advisory Committee, whose members are appointed by the U.S. Commerce Secretary and serve to advise the USPTO on its policies, goals, performance, budget and user fees.”

A site that acts as a CCIA front (as well as CCIA itself) and which wrote about her before has worked with Google and for Google, so no wonder it endorses Michelle Lee. CCIA is more concerned about patent trolls but not about abuse by its members (such as Microsoft), so it continues to treat only small abusive companies as the problem, e.g. for lack of evidence. Here is what the CCIA front said:

The White House announced yesterday that it’s nominating current Deputy Director Michelle Lee to be Director of the USPTO. By all accounts, she’s done a good job during a difficult time at the USPTO. This is definitely a smart move by the Administration.

How about appointing someone who is not supporting software patents and has not come from companies that accumulate software patents? Well, that might be too “revolutionary” for the USPTO and for the White House to do.

The EPO’s Public Relations Disaster Amid Distrust From Within (and EPO Communications Chief Leaves): Part VII

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jesper Kongstad
Jesper Kongstad. Photo from the Nordic Patent Institute.

Summary: Amid unrest and suspicion of misconduct in the EPO’s management (ongoing for months if not years), Transparency International steps in, but the EPO’s management completely ignores Transparency International, refusing to collaborate; the PR chief of the EPO is apparently being pushed out in the mean time

KONGSTAD was the subject of our coverage before. We mentioned him in previous parts of exclusive EPO scandal stories. Mr Jesper Kongstad had already been mentioned in several past posts because he’s suspected to have played a role in an inadequate appointment, potentially motivated by nepotism. The suspicion is not a one-man whisper campaign. Staff at the EPO too seems to be concerned. The EPO is not new to scandals.

As we showed some weeks ago, the EPO’s management had oversight dismantled (related original documents are to be found here) and later on we were told about a letter to Kongstad from Cobus de Swardtz [PDF], the Managing Director of Transparency International (TI), which calls itself a “global coalition against corruption”.

There was a lot more to come, but we chose to sit aside for a while, letting things take their natural course without publicising anything in particular. The silence needed to be broken when the letter was circulated internally. The following document was published some weeks ago, which basically means that its contents are freely available to quite a lot of people. We too received a copy. At the time, Transparency International had already waited a few weeks (after it sent a letter to the Chairman of the Administrative Council) and the Administrative Council did not respond. As far as we know, Kongstad never responded. Administrative Council seems to prefer to just keep quiet about it. The interesting thing is that Transparency International was invited by the EPO staff representatives to examine the governance of the EPO. This is public knowledge. Kongstad must either be very arrogant or he has something to hide.

In the future, in order to facilitate public pressure on the Administrative Council, we are going to reveal for our European readers some contact details so that they contact their national representatives on the Administrative Council in relation to the various issues concerning EPO governance. Details of the national delegates can be found in the EPO’s Web site. They are mostly the heads of national patent offices who are subject to instructions from the competent government Ministry. Any kind of public campaign should also target the corresponding government Ministries and/or Prime Ministers as that is where the buck really stops at a national level.

The following is a portion from a letter we got hold of. The letter provides some background and contains references:

EPO & Transparency

Summary

Transparency International (TI) critically examines how national political systems all around the world address corruption risks and foster integrity. They publish and encourage best practice in integrity and expose the effects of conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. Recently, TI also assessed how the EU institutions deal with ethics, how they ensure transparency and accountability, and how they ultimately prevent corruption. The Central Staff Committee suggested to the EPO Administrative Council that a similar study be done for the EPO. TI has signaled its interest in the matter. But until now the Council cloaks itself in silence.

The governance of the EPO

The EPO still has the governance system that it was created with. Oversight is in the hands of the Administrative Council. The Heads of the national delegations in the Administrative Council are almost without exception heads of national patent offices. The delegates are in a situation of conflict of interests since the EPO is at the same time the main competitor and a major source of income for the national patent offices. The meetings of the Administrative Council and the majority of its documents are not open to the public. Maybe significantly the Office has started to publish the salaries of its staff, but the salary and benefits of the President are not disclosed, not even to the Administrative Council.

The European Patent Organisation sets its own financial regulations, independent from national or European law1. Adherence to these rules is controlled by a Board of Auditors of consisting of three individuals who are appointed by and reporting to the Administrative Council, on 5-year renewable contracts. Their reports (CA/20/yy) tend to be rather mild and the (few) critical comments are routinely ignored by the Office. The most recently appointed auditor is a close co-worker of Mr Battistelli from his time in the French patent office. Maybe not surprisingly, the most recent Audit report (CA/20/14) is even milder than usual. An attempt by the Brimelow administration to strengthen the audit system through the creation of an Audit Committee2 was supported by Mr Battistelli in his function of Chairman of the Council, but annulled by him as soon as he became President of the Office3. Note that the Organisation’s immunity blocks third parties from effectively challenging its financial decisions. The Staff Committee challenged the decision of the Office to use a direct placement procedure in favour of an external consultancy. The Board of Auditors even agreed that an invitation to tender would have been justified. Even if clearly justified, the complaint was recently dismissed by ILO-AT as irreceivable4.

______
1 Article 50 EPC
2 Bossung, Otto. “The Return of European Patent Law in the European Union”.
IIC 27 (3/1996). Retrieved June 30, 2012.
3 CA/140/08 «Audit Committee: possible models», resp. CA/55/11, «Disbanding the audit committee»


Immunity, or impunity?

The lack of transparency and the lack of truly independent financial and political control would seem to pose a serious risk for the integrity of the EPO and consequently for the European patent system. This is particularly worrying at a time that the EPO is to be given the additional responsibilities for the Unitary Patent. The staff representation has repeatedly requested a discussion on, and a modernisation of, the governance of the Organisation5, thus far to no avail.

Transparency International

Transparency International is a global civil society organization that aims at stopping corruption and promoting transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society6. TI has developed a methodology to assess how well national governments ensure the integrity of their institutions. The beauty of the methodology is that it is systemic. It does not rely on leaks and/or scandals but assesses whether the necessary legislation and mechanisms are in place to prevent, detect and combat corruption, and abuse of power. They check how well these mechanisms function in practice. An adapted version of this methodology has been used to assess various EU institutions. For the EU institutions Transparency International found that the EU has done a lot to put their house in order in recent years, but that strong foundations are being undermined by complex rules, complacency, and a lack of follow-up7.

What is the Council waiting for?

With a letter dated 6 June 20148 the Central Staff Committee (CSC) again raised the issue with the Chairman of the Administrative Council. The CSC drew the attention of the Council to the report of Transparency International on the EU Institutions and suggested that a similar study be done for the EPO. We note that the EU institutions cooperated with the Transparency study. Transparency International has reacted to the letter of the CSC9. It has offered its support and experience in promoting a culture of integrity and good governance in the EPOrg. Just recently Transparency International sent a reminder of its letter to the Council.

[...]

_____
4 ILO-AT 3343
5 CA/93/07 «Governance of the EPO: a staff perspective»,
6 http://www.transparency.org/whatwedo?gclid=CJWu5eC5tsACFa7KtAodXRoA2A
7 http://www.transparencyinternational.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/EUIS_press_release.pdf
8 http://www.epostaff.org/archive/sc14139cl.pdf
9 see annex

The Transparency International story has been reported via another channel. The investigation was ignored. To quote WIPR: “A staff committee at the European Patent Office (EPO) has said its requests for the office’s governance to be assessed by a corruption specialist have been ignored, WIPR can reveal.

“The office’s central staff committee (CSC) said it had recommended to its supervisory body that anti-corruption organisation Transparency International (TI) carry out a study on the everyday running of the office, to ensure accountability.

“The CSC said its own attempts at convincing the Administrative Council (AC) were ignored, and has revealed that a letter sent directly to AC chairman Jesper Kongstad from TI has also yet to receive a response.

“TI’s letter, seen by WIPR, was sent in July this year and said the EPO’s governance has at times come under criticism.”

That basically sums up how the EPO’s management behaves; the modus operandi is to ignore or destroy any regulatory apparatus or oversight, External ones are ignored, internal ones are brutally (but almost silently) squashed.

There is probably no harm in waiting for while as there may be a follow-up by Transparency International. For the time being the situation is clear; an external audit is being ignored by the Administrative Council. Jesper Kongstad doesn’t appear to have made any response.

“For the time being the situation is clear; an external audit is being ignored by the Administrative Council.”Curiously enough, as also reported by WIPR just a few weeks later, there was a “[m]ysterious departure for EPO communications chief” (i.e. PR). “According to sources,” says the article, “a recently uncovered trademark application at the German Patent and Trademark Office in Schröder’s name bearing the words “f**k the US” may have been a contributing factor.”

A source tells us a slightly different story however. Some believe that Battistelli is planning to maneuver another French “crony” (Vincent Bénard, formerly of Airbus) into this key PR position, meaning that the previous occupant of the position, Oswald Schroeder, had to be “eliminated”. Whether he was set up or fell into a trap due to his own stupidity one cannot say for sure. “Oswald Schröder left “by mutual consent” on October 10,” says the article. It seems like he got pushed out. One just need to put some of the details found within the article together.

Battistelli’s regime can now tighten its grip and surround itself with more cronies that can perhaps push out challenges, such as Transparency International’s.

10.18.14

Links 18/10/2014: Debian Plans for Init Systems, Tails 1.2

Posted in News Roundup at 7:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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