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05.03.16

Links 3/5/2016: Mozilla Firefox 46.0.1, More Jolla Funding

Posted in News Roundup at 6:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Contributing to open source software with Ian Varley of Salesforce

    With open source, you’re expanding the sphere of people who might potentially care a lot about your code. You find others who have similar problems, and who can leverage your work and maybe even extend it. The knowledge that you’ve helped someone avoid “rebuilding the wheel” is really gratifying, and it’s amplified when those people actually start getting so involved that they give you contributions of code or ideas. The project picks up steam, and you might even get unforeseen help tackling those issues you didn’t have bandwidth to tackle yourself. Really, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Why open source is growing – and dying – at the same time

    So, how come 90%-98% of all open source code is thrown away after 12 months?

  • ownCloud 9.0.2 Released with Lower-Severity Security Patches and Hardenings

    A few moments ago, May 3, 2016, ownCloud Inc. announced the general availability of multiple maintenance releases for all of its supported branches of the ownCloud self-hosting cloud server.

    ownCloud 9.0.2, 8.2.4, 8.1.7, 8.0.12, and 7.0.14 were made available for download for existing users, who are urged to update their installations to these new versions as soon as possible. Thus, they are bringing fixes for reported bugs, as well as various lower-severity security patches and hardenings.

  • Appreciating the full power of open

    Last year was a big year for open source. As Wired put it, 2015 was the year open source software “went nuclear”. More people than ever seem to realize the power of open—not just as a programming methodology, but as a better way to accomplish just about anything.

  • 7 lessons from DuckDuckGo’s Instant Answers project

    DuckDuckGo is a search engine known for putting privacy first for users. So, when we passed 3 billion annual searches last year, we knew it was critical that we continue to serve users without sacrificing their privacy. The key, we realized, was open source.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Releases Firefox 46.0.1 to Fix Bugs and Limit Sync Registration Updates

        Today, May 3, Mozilla has pushed the first point release of the recently launched Firefox 46.0 web browser to all supported platforms, including GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows.

        Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 46.0 on April 26, 2016, bringing the long-anticipated GTK3 integration for the GNU/Linux platform. Other interesting features are enhanced security for the JavaScript JIT (Just In Time) compiler and improvements to the screen reader behavior with blank spaces for Google Docs.

  • SaaS/Back End

    • As Investment in Apache Spark Continues, SnappyData is a New Beneficiary

      At a regular cadence, startups focusing on Apache Spark are getting significant funding. The latest startup to benefit is SnappyData, based in Oregon, and its investors are heavy hitters too. The company announced that it has secured $3.65 million in Series A funding, led by Pivotal, GE Digital and GTD Capital.

      SnappyData bills itself as “developers of the world’s first in-memory hybrid transactional analytics database built on Apache Spark.” Officials say the funding will allow the company to further invest in engineering and sales. The SnappyData leadership team includes, Richard Lamb, Jags Ramnarayanan and Sudhir Menon, who worked together during their time at Pivotal to build Pivotal GemFire into a widely adopted in-memory data grid product.

    • Google Cloud Dataflow Stacks Up with Spark in Benchmark Tests
  • CMS

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • If Open Sharing Of Data Is A Great Idea For Combatting A Dangerous Plant Disease, Why Not For All Human Diseases?

      It’s a rather sad state of affairs when publishing concerns and patents are getting in the way of producing treatments and cures for serious human diseases that could improve the lives of millions of people. Protecting crops from wheat blast is, of course, welcome, but is it really the best we can do?

    • Open Data

      • Helsinki to enhance open democracy technologies through a hackathon

        The International Open Data Day brings together citizens and developers in major cities around the world to develop tools and applications based on Open Data. In 2016, Open Data Day took place on the 5-6 March.

      • Dutch government organisations not ready for open data requests

        Dutch government organisations are generally unable to process requests under the new ‘Law for re-use of government information’ in a timely and correct manner. According to inventories made by the Open State Foundation and Open Archives, government at all levels took months to decide on the requests, had problems providing the information in an open and machine-readable format, and failed to forward requests that should be handled by other organisations.

      • Hungarian Post charging high costs to frustrate right to public information

        The issue was brought before Péterfalvi Attila, President of the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, by Tóth Bertalan, Deputy Faction Leader for the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). Tóth argued that citizens are restricted in exercising their right of access to public information if an agency asks that much money for its data.

  • Programming/Development

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Prince’s Death Being Used to Sell Painkiller Panic

      Was Prince addicted to painkillers, and is that what killed him? That’s one of the latest issues surrounding Prince’s sudden and surprising death (along with his failure to have a will). TMZ has tracked down a lot of circumstantial evidence for the possibility, but we probably won’t know Prince’s actual cause of death for a few more weeks.

    • The richest Americans now live 10-15 years longer than the poorest.

      Rich people live longer than poor people. No big news there — we’ve known that health tracks wealth for quite some time now.

      But here’s what we haven’t known: The life-expectancy gap between rich and poor in the United States is actually accelerating.

      Since 2001, American men among the nation’s most affluent 5 percent have seen their lifespans increase by more than two years. American women in that bracket have registered an almost three-year extension to their life expectancy.

      Meanwhile, the poorest five percent of Americans have seen essentially no gains at all.

    • Prominent Democratic Consultants Sign Up to Defeat Single Payer in Colorado

      INFLUENTIAL DEMOCRATIC CONSULTANTS, some of whom work for the Super PACs backing Hillary Clinton, have signed up to fight a bold initiative to create a state-based single-payer system in Colorado, according to a state filing posted Monday.

      Coloradans for Coloradans, an ad-hoc group opposing single payer in Colorado, revealed that it raised $1 million over the first five months of this year. The group was formed to defeat Amendment 69, the ballot measure before voters this year that would change the Colorado constitution and permit a system that would automatically cover every state resident’s health care.

    • The Flint Chess Game: The Politics of the Battlefield

      So far, only a few pawns have been sacrificed, and one minor knight has fallen, in the Machiavellian chessboard game that is being played with the lives of thousands who were poisoned by the water in Flint, Michigan. Governor Rick Snyder has not even been question by state or federal prosecutors. “It will only be through political activism and unrelenting protest that the actual political players will be charged and held accountable.”

    • Lead Water Pipes in 1900 Caused Higher Crime Rates in 1920

      Last year I wrote about a paper that looked at the relationship between childhood lead poisoning and violent crime rates in a whole new way. James Feigenbaum and Christopher Muller compared cities from the early 20th century that installed lead water pipes with those that installed iron pipes, and found that cities with lead pipes had higher homicide rates.

    • Weekly Flint Water Report: April 23-29

      Here is this week’s Flint water report. As usual, I’ve eliminated outlier readings above 2,000 parts per billion, since there are very few of them and they can affect the averages in misleading ways. During the week, DEQ took 450 samples. The average for the past week was 5.50.

    • EPA Using Industry-Funded Research to Determine if Glyphosate Causes Cancer

      Nor is this the first time that the EPA has been caught using biased research to approve of dangerous chemicals. Last November, the Intercept’s Sharon Lerner reported that the agency used Monsanto’s own research to determine that there was “no convincing evidence” glyphosate was an endocrine disruptor.

      An EPA spokesperson said Friday that the document was posted to the website prematurely and was removed “because our assessment is not final,” and that the agency would release a completed, peer-reviewed analysis by the end of 2016.

  • Security

    • Linux Foundation launches badge program to boost open source security

      The Linux Foundation has released the first round of CII Best Practices badges as part of a program designed to improve the quality and security of open-source software.

      Announced on Tuesday, the non-profit said the Core Infrastructure Initiative (CII), a project which brings tech firms, developers and stakeholders together to create best practice specifications and improve the security of critical open-source projects, has now entered a new stage with the issue of CII badges to a select number of open-source software.

    • Linux Foundation’s Badge Program Launches to Boost Security of Open Source Apps

      Today, May 3, 2016, Linux Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting Linux and open source projects, has announced the general availability of its free badge program.

    • Free Badge Program Signals What Open Source Projects Meet Criteria for Security, Quality and Stability
    • How to Conduct Internal Penetration Testing

      The best way to establish how vulnerable your network is to a hacker attack is to subject it to a penetration test carried out by outside experts. (You must get a qualified third party to help with penetration testing, of course, and eSecurity Planet recently published an article on finding the right penetration testing company.)

    • SSH for Fun and Profit

      In May last year, a new attack on the Diffie Hellman algorithm was released, called Logjam. At the time, I was working on a security team, so it was our responsiblity to check that none of our servers would be affected. We ran through our TLS config and decided it was safe, but also needed to check that our SSH config was too. That confused me – where in SSH is Diffie Hellman? In fact, come to think of it, how does SSH work at all? As a fun side project, I decided to answer that question by writing a very basic SSH client of my own.

    • Security advisories for Tuesday
    • Aging and bloated OpenSSL is purged of 2 high-severity bugs

      Maintainers of the OpenSSL cryptographic library have patched high-severity holes that could make it possible for attackers to decrypt login credentials or execute malicious code on Web servers.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • ‘Shadow World’—Investigating the Huge Corruption of the Billion-Dollar Global Arms Trade

      The website for the film explains that, “The film unravels a number of the world’s largest and most corrupt arms deals through those involved in perpetrating and investigating them. It illustrates why this trade accounts for almost 40 percent of all corruption in global trade, and how it operates in a parallel legal universe, in which the national security elite who drive it are seldom prosecuted for their often illegal actions.”

    • Seymour Hersh: The CIA and Media Lied to Us About How Bin Laden Was Killed—What Can We Trust Them About?

      Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh broke the story of the My Lai massacre in 1969. He was the first to report the atrocities at Abu Ghraib prison, back in 2004.

    • Five years on, bin Laden doctor languishes in Pakistan jail

      Five years after his fake vaccination programme helped the CIA track and kill Osama bin Laden, Pakistani doctor Shakeel Afridi languishes in jail, abandoned by the US, say supporters, in its bid to smooth troubled relations with Islamabad.

      Afridi, believed to be in his mid-50s, has no access to a lawyer, and his appeal against a 23-year prison sentence has stalled.

      “I have no hope of meeting him, no expectation for justice,” his elder brother Jamil told AFP.

    • Fatwa against 2 families for denying land for madrasa

      The Mukami panchayat of Deshvaliyan community of Sarwar block of the district issued fatwa against two families and imposed fine of Rs 1,51,000 for denying to part with their land for a ‘social cause’. The fatwa was issued when these families denied to give their one hectare land to the madrasa society. The community went a step ahead and restricted these families from even participating in the mass marriage celebration on May 20 and 21 at Sarwar, and published posters stating the same.

    • Shying Away from 9/11 Evidence

      Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton wrote an opinion piece last week in USAToday, trying to “temper” feelings surrounding the release of “the 28 pages.”

      Kean and Hamilton wrote, “The 28 pages have generated a lot of public speculation over the years and have been described as a ‘smoking gun’ implicating the Saudi government in the deadliest terrorist attack carried out on U.S. soil.”

    • Happy bin Laden Day! CIA ‘Live Tweets’ bin Laden Killing to Celebrate Fifth Anniversary

      Think about how much has changed since that momentous day. In 2011 the U.S. was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, facing the threat of a vicious global terror organization that had already killed Americans. Oh, wait, that looks just like 2016, only now we are also at war in Syria, too, still at war in Afghanistan (16 years in!) and back at war in Iraq. And al Qaeda is known as ISIS, and the Homeland remains a jittery mess on the verge of electing either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, both of whom have enthusiastically endorsed lots more war in the Middle East.

      It’s as if Nothing. Has. Changed.

      Anyway, the CIA’s anniversary tweets open up the idea of live tweeting other American victories. How about a minute-by-minute live tweet of a waterboarding session? Or maybe, for a really special date, a live tweet on August 6 of the Hiroshima bombing?

    • The End of American Iraq: Poor Shiites invade Parliament over corrupt Spoils System

      Baghdad is under a state of emergency on Sunday a day after members of the Sadr Trend stormed the Green Zone and invaded the parliament building, briefly imprisoning parliamentarians in the chamber (and some in a basement) before letting them go. Some apparently were beaten as they left. Most of the protesters, though, were relatively peaceful and had been ordered to avoid violence by their leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. As at Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011, of which the invasion of the Green Zone was a distant echo, they chanted “peacefully, peacefully” ( silmiyyah, silmiyyah).

    • A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan

      On October 22, 1967, Berrigan was arrested for the first time with hundreds of students protesting the war at the Pentagon. “For the first time,” he wrote in his journal in the D.C. Jail, “I put on the prison blue jeans and denim shirt; a clerical attire I highly recommend for a new church.” In February, 1968, he traveled to North Vietnam with Howard Zinn to receive three U.S. Air Force personnel who were being released. While they awaited their meeting with the VietCong, they took cover in a Hanoi shelter as U.S. bombs fell around him. His diary of his trip to North Vietnam, “Night Flight to Hanoi” was published later that year.

    • Chris Hedges on Why Daniel Berrigan’s Most Important Contribution Wasn’t Activism but Writing
    • Father Daniel Berrigan Sought to ‘Build a World Uncursed by War, Starvation, and Exploitation’

      Father Daniel Berrigan, who has died at age 94, was a beautiful man with a beautiful vision that he made real by engaging in radical acts of conscience that sought not merely to end wars but to achieve the justice that has always been essential to peacemaking. Born on the Minnesota Iron Range into a family of trade unionists, he and his brother Philip (who died in 2002) brought to the slowly opening national discourse of the 1960s a deep understanding of the linkages between militarism and imperialism abroad and racism and poverty at home. As they came to prominence as fierce opponents of the Vietnam War, the Berrigan brothers taught generations of Americans to identify intersections of injustice and to get clear of them.

    • Russia declines to ask Syria to halt Bombardment of East Aleppo

      Western Europe wants to see the Baath government of Bashar al-Assad unseated, because it is a seedy one-party state and guilty of massive war crimes. Merkel was speaking for many in the EU in this regard, but not all. Czechia, for instance, sees the Syrian opposition as, if not al-Qaeda, the next thing to al-Qaeda, and so is supporting al-Assad.

    • Paddy Ashdown slams government for refusing entry to Afghan interpreter

      Paddy Ashdown has accused the government of acting dishonourably in the case of an Afghan interpreter who reportedly killed himself while facing deportation from Britain.

      Nangyalai Dawoodzai is understood to have worked for the British army in Afghanistan for three years, before fleeing the country after receiving death threats from the Taliban.

      The 29-year-old, who paid people smugglers to reach the UK, was told his request for asylum in Britain had been rejected when it was found he had been fingerprinted in Italy on arrival in Europe, according to the Daily Mail.

      Under the EU’s Dublin regulation, aimed at preventing multiple asylum claims by individuals, Dawoodzai had to pursue his claim in the first country he applied in.

    • The American Jewish scholar behind Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal breaks his silence

      Once the Nazi holocaust became the cultural referent, then, if you wanted to touch a nerve regarding Palestinian suffering, you had to make the analogy with the Nazis, because that was the only thing that resonated for Jews. If you compared the Palestinians to Native Americans, nobody would give a darn. In 1982, when I and a handful of other Jews took to the streets of New York to protest Israel’s invasion of Lebanon (up to 18,000 Lebanese and Palestinians were killed, overwhelmingly civilians), I held a sign saying, ‘This son of survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, Auschwitz, Maijdenek will not be silent: Israeli Nazis – Stop the Holocaust in Lebanon!’. (After my mother died, I found a picture of me holding that sign in a drawer among her keepsakes). I remember, as the cars drove past, one of the guys protesting with me kept saying, ‘hold the sign higher!’ (And I kept replying, ‘easy for you to say!’).

    • The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror

      Bernie’s politics, however, are a revival of FDR’s New Deal. He seeks to empower poor and working people (regardless of so-called “race”) to participate in the process of freeing our society from the control of the big rich by voting for a candidate of the Democratic Party. Whether he can do this from inside that Wall Street-dominated party is questionable. Even if by some miracle he overcame the power of Wall Street and the corporate media to become president, he would have to work within the institutions established in our history to ensure the rule of capital and its minions.

      Meanwhile, on the right, the Republican Party has been using its “Southern Strategy” since Richard Nixon to divide people by making veiled racist appeals, coupled with reactionary “culture wars” ideas and attacks on abortion and women’s rights; they continue to deny global warming while promulgating policies that de-regulate any governmental oversight of corporate power and hand over large tax cuts to the already wealthy. Recently we are also seeing a more open revival of the kind of racist and fascist movements that have always lurked beneath the surface in the post-Civil War U.S. Older organizations like the Ku Klux Klan are now being joined by Neo-Nazis—both with long histories of racist murder and genocide. And for this election, the Republicans have fielded a candidate in Donald Trump who has put aside the usual veiled racist appeals and is openly signaling his affinity with these white supremacist organizations.

    • Donald Trump in South Sudan

      The world’s youngest nation, South Sudan gained its independence in 2011 and just two and a half years later plunged into civil war. Since then, an estimated 50,000 to 300,000 people have been killed in a conflict pitting President Salva Kiir, a member of the country’s largest tribe, the Dinka, against Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer and the vice president he sacked in July 2013. That December, a fight between Dinka and Nuer troops set off the current crisis, which then turned into a slaughter of Nuers by Kiir’s forces in Juba. Reprisals followed as Machar’s men took their revenge on Dinkas and other non-Nuers in towns like Bor and Bentiu. The conflict soon spread, splintering into local wars within the larger war and birthing other violence that even a peace deal signed last August and Machar’s recent return to the government has been unable to halt.

      The signature feature of this civil war has been its preferred target: civilians. It has been marked by massacres, mass rape, sexual slavery, assaults of every sort, extrajudicial killings, forced displacement of local populations, disappearances, abductions, torture, mutilations, the wholesale destruction of villages, pillaging, looting, and a host of other crimes.

    • “A Moral Giant”: A Democracy Now! Special on the Life & Legacy of Father Daniel Berrigan
    • Bernie Sanders should push for a new realism in foreign policy

      Donald Trump’s formal foreign policy address last week hurled a stick into the hive of the foreign policy establishment. Republican and Democrat foreign policy mavens erupted and buzzed around to attack the intruder. Anyone not reading the text would think it was a contradictory spewing of nonsense, another in the long line of Trump outrages. In fact, the reaction to the speech was far more revealing than Trump’s address itself.

    • The Pentagon Shouldn’t Get to Absolve Itself for Bombing a Hospital

      No war crime, despite the U.S. military having full knowledge of the hospital’s location before the bombing. No war crime, despite desperate hospital staffers calling military liaison officers while the rampage was underway. No war crime, despite their calls being routed without response through layers of lethal bureaucracy for an hour or more as the deadly bombing continued.

    • “The Assassination Complex”: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Probe Secret US Drone Wars in New Book

      As the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it has killed in drone strikes in countries that lie outside of conventional war zones, we look at a new book out today that paints a very different picture of the U.S. drone program. “The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program” is written by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, and based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. The documents undermine government claims that drone strikes have been precise. Part of the book looks at a program called Operation Haymaker in northeastern Afghanistan. During one five-month period, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The book is based on articles published by The Intercept last year. It also includes new contributions from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and The Intercept’s Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. We speak with Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • A Setback in Longmont Will Only Lead to More Victories

      We must keep up the pressure on decision-makers to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

    • Backtracking on Clean Energy, Clinton Turns Chameleon on Coal

      Campaigning in Appalachia on Monday, Hillary Clinton claimed she “misspoke” when previously declaring her opposition to coal, telling voters that as president she would work to ensure that the dirtiest of the fossil fuels will “continue to be sold and continue to be mined.”

      Arriving in Williamson, West Virginia—the heart of coal country—the Democratic frontrunner was greeted by a wall of protesters who were angry over remarks she made in March foretelling the end of the coal industry.

    • “Nature Won’t Wait”: Break Free 2016 Begins with UK Coal Mine Occupation

      Hundreds of climate activists shut down the UK’s largest open-cast coal mine on Tuesday morning—the first of a wave of peaceful direct actions spanning six continents and 12 days, targeting the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

      Mining work has now been halted at the Ffos-y-fran mine in south Wales, where the mass civil trespass by climate action network Reclaim the Power began at 5:30am local time. Hundreds of demonstrators wearing red boiler suits used their bodies to form a massive red line across the mine, while nine individuals are locked to each other, blocking road access to the controversial facility.

    • Scientists Aren’t Just ‘F*cking With You’: Jimmy Kimmel Takes On Sarah Palin’s Climate Denial

      On Monday evening’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the ABC late-night host tackled something that isn’t in your average topical monologue: the scientific consensus on climate change. And he made a video featuring real climate scientists responding to climate denial in a fashion one doesn’t see in the National Academy of Sciences.

      The catalyst involved a climate denier-produced movie, “Climate Hustle,” which has been called “amateurish” and “not very watchable.” Specifically what Kimmel seized on were comments former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gave last month while promoting the movie.

    • California And Florida Governors Duel On Climate Denial

      When it comes to climate change — and climate-denying politicians — California Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t mince words.

      Brown sent a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott Monday, in time for Scott’s visit to California — a trip in which Scott aims to convince West Coast businesses to consider moving to Florida. But Brown had some business advice of his own for Scott, who’s long been known for his climate-denying, anti-clean energy record.

    • Record Heat Threatens India’s Poor and Elderly

      One year after India experienced the fifth-deadliest heat wave ever recorded, temperatures are again soaring to deadly extremes. Local governments are scrambling to address rising death tolls and dwindling water supplies.

      The drought and blistering heat, some 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, has claimed 300 lives since early April. Towns on India’s eastern side have been hit with record-setting temperatures — 119.3 degrees in the town of Titlagarh, Orissa, which is the highest temperature ever recorded in that state during April.

    • Arctic Death Spiral Update: What Happens In The Arctic Affects Weather Everywhere Else

      This was the hottest four-month start (January to April) of any year on record, according to newly-released satellite data.

      The Arctic continues its multi-month trend of off-the-charts warmth. So it’s no surprise that Arctic sea ice continues to melt at a record pace. New research, however, finds that warming-driven Arctic sea ice loss causes high-pressure systems to get stuck in places like Greenland, leading to accelerated melt of the land-locked ice that drives sea level rise worldwide.

      Let’s start with the University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) satellite data, which show that the lowest part of the atmosphere (the lower troposphere) was an impressive 1.3°F (0.71°C) above the historical (1981-2010) average — a baseline that is itself 0.8°F (0.45°C) hotter than pre-industrial levels.

    • A Growing and WINNING Climate Movement

      The growing rallying cry of the climate movement, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, is taking hold, and not just in the form of chants and headlines, but in the form of cancelled gas pipelines, rejected LNG terminals, shelved lease sales – all of which would’ve perpetuated the fossil fuel status quo, but which faced mounting and unprecedented public opposition. Emboldened by the successful campaign against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and motivated by the growing scientific consensus that we must keep at least 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we hope to avoid a climate disaster, communities are increasingly pushing back against fossil fuel projects that would not only threaten their backyards, their water, and their health, but threaten our very ability to maintain a livable planet.

    • Gripped by Climate Disruption, World on Brink of Global Water Crisis

      Global water shortages, exacerbated by human-caused climate change, are likely to spur conflict and migration across the Middle East, central Asia, and Africa—all while negatively impacting regional economies, according to a new World Bank report published Tuesday.

      Rising demand combined with increasingly “erratic and uncertain” supply could reduce water availability in cities by as much as two thirds by 2050, compared to 2015 levels, the report warns. Meanwhile, “food price spikes caused by droughts can inflame latent conflicts and drive migration,” a World Bank press statement reads.

    • Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California? [Ed: mentioned here before]
    • The Massive, Tragic Trashing of Our Oceans: Is There Still Time to Do Something About It?

      It’s impossible to overestimate how critical the oceans are to the overall health of life on Earth. For one thing, tiny marine plants called phytoplankton provide up to 85 percent of the world’s oxygen, according to EarthSky.org. But the oceans don’t just give us good stuff like oxygen; they take away bad stuff, like carbon dioxide. A 2011 international study led by the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, estimated that the oceans absorb 27 percent of the CO2 produced by the fossil fuel combustion.

  • Finance

    • Detroit Schools Shuttered as Lawmakers ‘Illegally’ Withhold Teacher Pay
    • BREAKING: TTIP leaks confirm dangers for digital rights

      While the European Commission claims to be very transparent in its reports, the public receives a non-complete state of play after each round of negotiations. The leak is a real, internal state of play on the negotiations, clearly reflecting the lobbying efforts of certain parts of industry from both sides of the Atlantic.

    • TTIP: The NO must get louder and stronger

      The most recent TTIP leak provides ample proof of one core fact: The contradictions between the official positions of both sides are far greater than the European Commission has ever publicly acknowledged. To insist under these circumstances as the Commission does – that the negotiations should be finalized by the end of this year – either signals a belief in political miracles or an implicit willingness to cave in. The Commission has some explaining to do.

      Every single publicly voiced suspicion concerning the lack of transparency in these TTIP negotiations has been justified by the revelations stemming from the leak. If the Commission had the intention to really stand up for the interests of European consumers, European manufacturing industries and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, they should welcome critical contributions from many NGOs and the broader public in general. But instead, by keeping the public ignorant about the truth of the negotiations they only manage to weaken the European negotiating position. Obviously, the Commission cannot be trusted to be a good steward for European interests in the political battle over TTIP. Not on ISDS, not on regulatory cooperation, not on good protection standards.

    • Australian Craig Wright claims to be Bitcoin creator

      Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has publicly identified himself as Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

      His admission follows years of speculation about who came up with the original ideas underlying the digital cash system.

      Mr Wright has provided technical proof to back up his claim using coins known to be owned by Bitcoin’s creator.

      Prominent members of the Bitcoin community and its core development team say they have confirmed his claims.

    • Aid Group Backed by Bill Gates and Bono Draws Senate Scrutiny

      A U.S. Senate panel is examining whether a global aid group funded partly by billionaire Bill Gates and rock star Bono misled U.S. officials about its anti-corruption practices to retain government funding.

      The inquiry stems from the handling of allegations of corruption that surfaced four years ago at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a multibillion-dollar charity with private and public support. Seth Faison, a Global Fund spokesman, categorically rejected any implication that the aid organization had engaged in misconduct.

      In the Senate, the staff of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recently questioned at least one former official of the Global Fund, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. The questions relate to the firing of an inspector general for the charity who published reports alleging corruption and to subsequent affirmations by the charity that it had an independent inspector general.

    • ‘Burning Man for the 1%’: the desert party for the tech elite, with Eric Schmidt in a top hat

      A red Ferrari with the top down swerved past on the winding dirt road, heading to what looked like a small Mars encampment. Helicopters landed on the side of the road and greeters darted across. At a farmers’ market with overflowing baskets full of raspberries, watermelons, and focaccia, I asked for a mango, and the farmer started cutting it in half for me: “That’ll be $7.”

      This weekend, outside Las Vegas, a group of Burning Man veterans put on a festival called Further Future, now in its second year. Across 49 acres of Native American land over three days, with around 5,000 attendees, the event was the epitome of a new trend of so-called “transformational festivals” that are drawing technologists for what’s billed as a mix of fun and education. While tickets started at $350, many attendees opted for upgrades to fully staffed accommodation and fine dining.

    • Supreme Court Tells Industry Group Attacking The $15 Minimum Wage To Go Away

      Once upon a time, International Franchise Association v. City of Seattle was going to be an epic showdown over government’s ability to regulate employers. The case presented a series of arguments against Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage ordinance that ranged from ambitious to an outright assault on lawmakers’ power over businesses. One of the plaintiffs’ arguments, for example, suggested that the minimum wage violates the First Amendment because it forces companies to spend money on wages that could otherwise be spent on advertising.

      Really. We’re not making that up. That was an actual argument advanced by top lawyers in a federal court.

      On Monday, however, the Supreme Court announced that it will not hear an appeal from a federal circuit court’s decision refusing to halt Seattle’s minimum wage. That doesn’t end this lawsuit altogether, but it is only the latest in a series of embarrassments for the plaintiffs in this case. And it most likely means that this effort to undermine Seattle’s protections for low-income workers will gain no traction in federal court.

    • The Supreme Court Just Refused To Shield Corporate America From A $15 Minimum Wage. What Happens Now?

      With the Supreme Court’s decision Monday not to hear the fast food industry’s lawsuit against Seattle, the nation’s first $15 minimum wage law is safe – and opponents of higher pay floors for U.S. workers are running low on options.

      The decision upholds two previous rulings that Seattle’s law does not discriminate against franchise firms like McDonald’s. The case was the most prominent legal challenge to a large minimum wage hike in recent years, and one of several to fail.

      But while the hugely profitable industries that oppose Fight for $15 workers and their allies aren’t making much progress on the legal front, they’re far from done fighting. The minimum wage battleground reaches far beyond the legal arguments that have failed in Seattle, New York, and Washington, D.C.

    • Alleged Leaked TTIP Report Reveals Differences, Convergence On IP Issues

      Encryption

      The text states (p. 16): “The EU and the US continued to discuss conformity assessment principles for ICT products that use cryptography. The discussion was based on the TPP text, which the US linked to the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) principles.

      The EU noted the sensitivities of Member States, which are competent in this area and which would not like to see its right to regulate curtailed in a security-related area. The EU went on to present a set of questions, derived from previous contacts with Member States. As the US was not ready to provide a reply on the spot, the EU will be sending the set of follow up questions in written form.

      Given the complexity of the subject, both sides agreed on the need to further deepen the issue on both policy and technical aspects before the next TTIP round.”

    • Greenpeace Netherlands Releases TTIP Documents

      That’s why I was so excited when I heard that Greenpeace Netherlands was releasing to the public secret documents from the United States’ current trade negotiations with the European Union. The deal is called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP for short) and once it’s agreed upon it will govern the U.S.-European economic relationship for years.

    • Time for Radical Action, Not National Therapy

      We don’t need to bridge the class divide — we need to end it.

    • Italian Court Rules Stealing Food is Not a Crime If You are Poor and Hungry

      Stealing food if you are hungry and poor is not a crime, Italy’s highest appeals court ruled on Monday.

      Judges with the Supreme Court of Cassation overturned a theft conviction against a Ukrainian man who stole $4.50 (€4.07) of sausage and cheese from a supermarket in Genoa in 2011, finding that he had taken the food “in the face of immediate and essential need for nourishment.”

      In 2015, the man, Roman Ostriakov, was sentenced to six months in jail and ordered to pay a $115 (€100) fine.

      “The condition of the defendant and the circumstances in which the merchandise theft took place prove that he took possession of that small amount of food in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment, acting therefore in a state of need,” the court ruled on Monday. For that reason, the theft “does not constitute a crime.”

    • Blocking Wall Street’s Revolving Door

      At a surreal meeting in Bermuda, the AFL-CIO convinced 40 percent of Lazard shareholders to support a ban on golden parachutes for bank executives who go to work for financial regulators.

    • Why Student Loan Debt Harms Low-Income Students the Most

      Four years ago, student loan debt in America topped $1 trillion. Today, that number has swelled even further, with some 43 million Americans feeling the enduring gravity of $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.

      While student debt may not intuitively register as something that plagues the poor, student debt delinquency and defaults are concentrated in low-income areas, even though lower-income borrowers also tend to have much smaller debts. Defaults and delinquencies among low-income Americans escalated following the Great Recession of 2008, a period when many states disinvested from public colleges and universities. The result was higher costs of college, which has led to larger loans.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Want To Know Trump’s General Election Strategy? Check Out Who He’s Having Lunch With.

      More importantly, though, Klein is also a expert on smearing Democratic politicians — particularly the party’s current presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. After relatively respectable stints at New York Times Magazine and Newsweek, Klein essentially turned into a gossip columnist with a vendetta, writing negative and often salacious books on both Hillary and Bill Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, and the Kennedy family. Most of his books’ more controversial claims are based on quotes from anonymous sources, causing both conservative and liberal writers alike to raise serious questions about his credibility.

    • Bernie and the Greens

      Let us place the Green party’s reach in the proper perspective: Not being on the ballot in 25 states is the important statistic. This shows how seriously Green Party leadership appears to take electoral success. The RepubLicans of 1860, though they had been at it less than a decade, were far more electorally entrenched.

    • In First, Trump Ekes Ahead of Clinton in New National Poll

      As the presidential nominating contests enter their final stretch, a troubling new trend has developed for Democratic voters as recent polling indicates that Hillary Clinton may be losing her lead over Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

      In a hypothetical matchup, the New York billionaire would defeat the former secretary of state 41 to 39 percent, according to the new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey, which was released on Monday.

    • 6 Most Hilarious Examples of Anti-Trump Art

      The negative reactions to Donald Trump’s campaign range from nausea, fear and anxiety to an increase in celebrities threatening to move to Canada. For those of us aghast and despairing that America has lost its collective marbles as he continues to win primaries, fear not: there is a silver lining. Artists have found delightful ways to protest the Donald. Read on for six examples of how artists, musicians and even sex-toy makers have subverted the image and message of the bewildering candidate.

    • Trump Fills a Vacuum Left by the GOP

      The Donald Trump rampage—still hard to believe, after nearly a year—is a symptom of something deeper and more profound: the Republican Party’s slide into complete incoherence.

      Rarely has a major party’s establishment been so out of touch with its voting base. Rarely have so many experienced politicians (Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry et al.) been so thoroughly embarrassed, and so cruelly dispatched, by a political neophyte. Rarely have feelings been so raw that one leading Republican (John Boehner) would publicly describe another (Ted Cruz) as “Lucifer in the flesh.”

      What does the GOP believe in? There was a time when anyone with a passing interest in politics could have answered that question. Today, who knows?

    • In Race for London Mayor, Donald Trump’s Anti-Muslim Playbook Seems to Be Failing for Zac Goldsmith

      STOP ME IF you’ve heard this one: an outsider politician who owes his station in life to the hundreds of millions he inherited from his father is running a failing campaign for office based on stoking fear of Muslims.

      The word “failing” — as in 20 points down in the polls days before the election — is a clue that we are speaking about someone other than Donald Trump.

      In this case, the politician’s name is Zac Goldsmith, and he is the millionaire scion of a prominent British family. He was thought of, until recently, as a mild-mannered Conservative member of Parliament, known mainly for his environmentalism and his sister’s friendship with the late Princess Diana.

      For the past two months, however, he has generated waves of disgust and, polls suggest, not much sympathy, by pursuing a mayoral campaign filled with racially divisive innuendo about the supposed danger of electing his Labour Party rival, Sadiq Khan, a son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants.

    • Irony Alert: Latinos May Determine Donald Trump’s Fate

      After serving for months as punching bags for Republican candidates, Latinos may ultimately decide the outcome of the race. An upcoming report from two GOP consulting firms argues that Latino votes in California could prove decisive in 11 of the state’s 53 congressional districts—a swath that confers more delegates than 20 other states combined. “If Trump is going to be held under 1,237″—the number of delegates needed to avoid a contested convention—”it will largely be the result of Latino Republicans voting against his candidacy,” says Mike Madrid, whose firm, Grassroots Lab, co-authored the report with the GOP analytics firm Murphy Nasica.

    • Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows

      Yes of course, one has to acknowledge it. Barring an indictment, or the surfacing of some extremely embarrassing Goldman Sachs speech transcripts before July, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee and Bernie Sanders a historical footnote of yet indeterminate significance.

      Then—unless scandal hits her between July and November (which Trump could exploit mercilessly), or her cell phone electrocutes her in the shower—Hillary will become the next Commander-in-Chief. People should of course ask themselves and others what that will mean to them and the world. Here are some suggestions about what may be in store.

      Hillary sells herself to the electorate first and foremost as a woman, whose time has come. The first woman president to follow the first Black president. A woman who has fought for women, girls, children and families—including especially people of color—all her life. That’s her brand. As required she identifies as liberal and progressive, and she has campaigned as these in the contest with Sanders.

    • George Carlin Exposes the Truth About American Government and Its System of Oligarchy (Video)

      George Carlin would have had a field day with the 2016 United States presidential election if he were alive today. The comedian and social critic died on June 22, 2008, but his spirit and wisdom remains eternal.

    • Some Indiana Counties Closed Two-Thirds Of Their Polling Places Ahead Of Record Turnout Election Day

      Some 4 million Indiana voters are expected to head to the polls today in record numbers, as the state takes an unexpected spotlight in a primary where candidates in both parties are fighting it out until the bitter end. The state has already seen extremely high turnout in early voting; over 50 percent more people have cast early ballots than when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama went head-to-head in 2008.

    • Strong Majority of Democratic Voters Agree: Sanders Should Fight to the End

      The majority of left-leaning voters want Bernie Sanders to stay in the presidential race, a new poll reveals.

      Just as the Vermont senator is promising to take his candidacy all the way to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia in July—and contest the delegate allocation if necessary—voters around the country are expressing just how much they believe in him and what his candidacy represents.

    • It’s time for Channel 4 to set the indies free – again

      Somewhere between childhood and early middle age, Britain’s Channel 4 lost sight of the importance of giving its indie producers free rein. Today’s leaders could learn a lot from the legacy of the channel’s founder, Jeremy Isaacs.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Judge Tells Twitter Revealing Classified Stats Isn’t Protected By 1st Amendment… But Says Twitter Can Challenge Classification

      Back in late 2014, we wrote about Twitter suing the US government over whether or not it was allowed to publish just how many National Security Letters and FISA Court orders it receives in its transparency report. This came after a bunch of other tech companies had settled a similar lawsuit with an agreement that they could reveal certain “bands” of numbers, rather than the specific number. It still boggles the mind that merely revealing the number of NSLs and/or FISC orders received would create any problem for national security, but the government seems hellbent on keeping that information secret. Probably because they don’t want the public to understand how widely this system is used to obtain info.

      We had mentioned this case just a few weeks ago, noting that a bunch of companies had filed an amicus brief pointing out that it’s unclear if they can even admit that they’ve never received such a request (i.e., it’s possible that warrant canaries are illegal).

      Meanwhile, the DOJ has been trying to get the entire case thrown out because that’s what the DOJ does. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers has now given a mixed ruling denying some of the DOJ’s motion, but granting a key part concerning Twitter’s First Amendment claim. The good news, though, is that the issue there is at least partially procedural, allowing Twitter to try again.

    • National Intelligence Office’s Top Lawyer Fires Off Spirited Defense Of Bulk Surveillance, Third Party Doctrine

      The thing is that while people may voluntarily agree to hand over certain information to service providers (and it’s safe to say the “agreement” is anything but “voluntary”), they do not naturally assume the service provider will share this — no questions asked or warrants demanded — with anyone else who comes asking for it. That’s where the reliance on Smith v. Maryland fails. “Choose to disclose” is much different than “forced to disclose.” And it’s not as if it can truly be said phone users relinquish all ownership of that data. It’s specifically tied to them and they “share” it with service providers — which if that’s how Litt wants to interpret the interaction, he should at least be honest and give both parties some sort of ownership, along with the privacy expectations that go with it.

      A lot of the rest of it is given over to Litt’s displeasure that courts have even granted plaintiffs standing in bulk metadata program lawsuits. Whatever the Third Party Doctrine doesn’t shut down, the plaintiffs’ inability to claim anything more than theoretical rights violations by programs the government refused to discuss publicly should have seen the cases tossed immediately. He agrees the framework is there for massive violations of privacy but these actually damaging acts simply never occurred. But abuses did occur and were covered up by the NSA, nearly resulting in the program being shut down back in 2008 by FISC Judge Reggie Walton.

    • What’s Your ‘Insider Threat Score?’ It Could Determine If You Keep Your Clearance

      Your eligibility to perform secret government work could one day be decided by a number that looks like a credit score, and factors in your social media activities.

    • NSA to Spy On Own Employees Everywhere, All the Time

      A National Security Agency official is seeking the ability to track employees on their personal computers, as well as at office workstations, to ensure they are not participating in illegal activities, including downloading child pornography, or leaking state secrets.

    • America’s surveillance court rubber-stamped every single surveillance warrant in 2015

      The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) is a secret court that hears warrant requests from America’s spy agencies when they want to wiretap people in the USA.

      The court — which is non-adversarial, hearing only from the spies, and not from anyone representing those they wish to spy upon — is supposed to serve as a check upon uncontrolled secret powers.

      A document released by the DoJ this week shows that the FBI and NSA made 1,457 warrant requests to the court.

    • Why Activists Today Should Still Care About the 40-Year-Old Church Committee Report

      Today, if you go on Twitter, you can find the NSA tweeting about its commitment to recycling, or the CIA joking about still not knowing the whereabouts of Tupac. Why are these once-sinister and little-known spy agencies so eager to put on a friendly face for us? The answer can be traced back to the Church Committee of 1975-76, which forever changed the way Americans looked at the intelligence agencies meant to serve them.

    • NSA and CIA Double Their Warrantless Searches on Americans in Two Years

      FROM 2013 to 2015, the NSA and CIA doubled the number of warrantless searches they conducted for Americans’ data in a massive NSA database ostensibly collected for foreign intelligence purposes, according to a new intelligence community transparency report.

      The estimated number of search terms “concerning a known U.S. person” to get contents of communications within what is known as the 702 database was 4,672—more than double the 2013 figure.

    • Samsung SmartThings Platform Latest To Highlight Internet Of Things Security Is A Joke

      Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a new study has found that the “Internet of Things” may bring some added convenience, but at the high price of severe security vulnerabilities. Researchers at the University of Michigan say they’ve uncovered (pdf) some major new vulnerabilities in Samsung’s SmartThings platform that could allow an attacker to unlock doors, modify home access codes, create false smoke detector alarms, or put security and automation devices into vacation mode. Researchers say this can be done by tricking users into either installing a malicious app from the SmartThings store, or by clicking a malicious link.

    • Woman ordered to provide her fingerprint to unlock seized iPhone
    • Twitter Hasn’t Been A Great Traffic Source For Publishers

      Twitter, compared to Facebook, Google, and even Yahoo, really isn’t very good for driving referral traffic. This is at least the case when it comes to news publishers as new data from Parse.ly finds.

      This week, Nieman Lab shared data from the company, which looked at 200 of its client websites. These include Upworthy, Slate, The Daily Beast, and Business Insider. While Twitter’s value for breaking news is certainly acknowledged, it concludes that Twitter is a small source of traffic for most publishers with less than 5% of referrals coming from Twitter in January and February.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Celebrating Mother Jones

      This week commemorates the anniversary of the Haymarket Affair, International Workers’ Day, and the claimed birthday of Mother Mary Harris Jones. While the United States’ official Labor Day falls in September, the international community celebrates workers and workers rights on May 1st, in recognition of actions taken by Americans in 1886, and the events that led up to the Haymarket Massacre.

    • Whistleblowing Is Not Just Leaking — It’s an Act of Political Resistance

      One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency, who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint. They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: What begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice.

    • The Proper Channels For Whistleblowers Are Still A Joke

      This administration has made it clear whistleblowing isn’t tolerated. It has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other administrations combined. It’s even planning a “Welcome Home” prosecution for the nation’s most famous whistleblower — Edward Snowden — should he ever decide to return to the US.

      Officials, of course, claim to love whistleblowing. That seems to be the main objection raised to Snowden’s activities: “If only he’d gone through the proper channels, we wouldn’t be seeking to jail him the moment he returns to American soil (or the soil of any country with a favorable extradition policy).”

      But there are no official channels — or, at least, no channels whistleblowers feel safe using.

      Foreign Policy has the story of another NSA whistleblower the agency has chosen to make miserable rather than investigate the source of her complaints. It started with an FBI raid of her house — something she found out via a phone call from an FBI agent already in her house. From there, it got worse.

    • Another Theater Mounts A Legal Battle Against Law Saying It Can’t Serve Customers Beer And R-Rated Films At The Same Time

      In the US, you can be given a gun and a chance to catch bullets for your country at age 18. Three years after that, the US government will finally allow you to purchase your own alcohol. At 21, you can finally be the “adult” in “adult beverages.” Except in some states. Some states tie booze purchases to morality. (I mean, even more so. It’s subject everywhere to “sin taxes.”)

      As we covered here earlier, the state of Idaho says adults can drink booze and watch movies meant for mature audiences, but not always simultaneously. In Idaho, state police have been busting theaters for showing certain movies while serving alcohol, thanks to statutes that say it’s illegal to serve up both booze and “simulated sexual acts.”

      In Idaho, theaters are trying to get the law ruled unconstitutional — pointing out that the law is only selectively enforced (cops raid theaters showing “Fifty Shades of Gray” rather than “American Sniper,” even though both contain depictions of sexual acts) and allows the state to use liquor statutes to regulate speech.

    • Tuesday 10 May: Lauri Love ruling may create dangerous new police powers

      On 10 May 2016, a UK judge will make a decision that will have serious implications for journalists, advocates, activists, whistleblowers, members of the legal profession and other groups who handle sensitive communications or other data. At 10am on that date, British student Lauri Love returns to Westminster Magistrates’ Court for Judge Tempia’s ruling. Tempia will decide whether Love should be ordered to surrender his encryption keys to the National Crime Agency, following oral arguments presented on 12 April. Should Judge Tempia rule in the NCA’s favour, this will give the police new powers to compel people to decrypt their electronic devices, even if they are not suspected of a crime.

      Love’s computers were seized in October 2013 in connection with an NCA investigation, which was eventually dropped. Love, who is now facing extradition requests from three separate US court districts, has taken the NCA to court to try to get five of his items returned to him. The NCA says that some of these items contain encrypted files that they have not been able to read.

    • United Nations Questions Israel’s Use Of Solitary Confinement Of Palestinian Prisoners

      The United Nations Committee Against Torture questioned an Israeli delegation over the country’s prevalent use of solitary confinement, particularly against Palestinian prisoners, after reports that the number of cases in Israeli jails nearly doubled from 2012 to 2014.

      Solitary confinement, which is regularly used against Palestinian prisoners, including children, is likened to a form of torture by the UN, with many experts calling to “ban the solitary confinement of prisoners except in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible, with an absolute prohibition in the case of juveniles and people with mental disabilities.”

    • Cops Arrest High Schooler on 69 Counts of Indecent Exposure for Dumb Prank

      Is Osborn a serial sexual predator, or deviant? Not exactly. The sum total of his criminal activities is this: he exposed himself, very briefly—and almost imperceptibly—in a football team photo for the high school yearbook.

      He did so on a dare, according to ABC15. Just before the photo was taken, Osborn pulled his pants down, ever-so-slightly exposing his privates. Photos of the photo are now blurring at Osborn’s midsection, but people who saw it claimed the crime was barely noticeable. School staff didn’t even notice until after the yearbook had been distributed to 250 people. But a parent took notice, informed the school, and then the police were called.

    • Tennessee Approves Guns On College Campuses

      Without widespread approval from its student leaders, regents, or police, Tennessee empowered full-time staff and faculty to carry firearms at public universities and colleges. On Monday, following months of heated debate about how to keep schools safe, Gov. Bill Haslam allowed Tennessee’s General Assembly to expand campus gun rights without his signature. pparently Melisandre ain’t the only one that got some advanced aging issues cuz Bran look like he’s gotten a couple of kids, a mortgage and a divorce since the last time we saw him.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • ICANN CEO Atallah: Gearing Up For Next Round Of New Internet Domains

      One controversial issue from early days of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) could come to final closure ten years later: the decoupling from US oversight of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which manages the central root zone for the domain name system. Meanwhile, the next round of new internet domains is being teed up, but is a few years out, the head of the domain name system oversight body has said.

    • WSIS Forum: Support For General Assembly Decisions On Internet Governance

      Besides much applause for the convening of the WSIS Forum and much optimism on next steps, there were also some voices calling for more concrete steps and some who warned against a deteriorating situation of human rights violations.

      The head of the Polish Telecom Regulatory Body, Magdalena Gaj, underlined that 60 percent of people are still offline and many countries still struggle with basic challenges. She challenged the represented administrations on longstanding commitments unfulfilled, for example with regard to gender equality.

    • Verizon Accused of Deceiving Customers as Historic Strike Perseveres

      Three weeks after roughly 40,000 Verizon workers began a historic work stoppage to protest the “corporate greed” of the telecom company, the union behind the strike joined pubic interest groups in charging Verizon with “systematically deceiving customers” as part of its push to transfer users from copper telephone wires to fiber service.

      The informal complaint (pdf) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was filed Tuesday by Common Cause, Public Knowledge, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and several other groups.

      It charges that the internal Verizon policy known as “Fiber Is the Only Fix” both deceives customers and constitutes “unjust and unreasonable practices” that violate federal law. It also alleges that Verizon has been giving retail customers as little as 15 days notice before ending their copper service, when FCC rules say they must be given at least 90 days notice.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Rights of Trade Secret Owners in Federal Cases

      By longstanding tradition, US courts are open, transparent in proceedings, and transparent in judgment. The FISA courts that I cover in my internet law course are so controversial because they are so contrary to that tradition. Courts are also sensitive to the disclosure of trade secrets and, in the past, have liberally allowed parties to file documents under seal to avoid destroying those rights. Most recently, for instance, the Supreme Court permitted Shukh to file redacted public briefs to avoid discussing secret information regarding his invention rights. See Supreme Court Rule 5.2.

    • Trade secrets come to the fore in the US and Europe with new legislation set to hit the statute books [Ed: criminalising whistleblowers]

      Following the unusually swift and bipartisan passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act through Congress, the US is only a presidential signature away from a wide variety of civil trade secrets cases being litigated in federal courts for the first time. This comes just as the European Parliament has voted in favour of the European Union’s first-ever trade secrets directive, which sets minimum standards of protection across all member states of the EU.

    • Trademarks

      • Zappa Threatens Zappa Over Zappa Plays Zappa

        Another week, another story about the abuse of intellectual property. This one, like many, involve the “estate” of a famous, but deceased, creator. In this case, it’s the estate of Frank Zappa, which apparently is managed by two of his four children: Ahmet and Diva. The other two children are beneficiaries of the estate, but not trustees. The issue here is that one of the other siblings, Dweezil Zappa, wanted to go out on tour under the name “Zappa Plays Zappa” in which he plays songs by Frank Zappa. Sounds reasonable… and, in fact, he’s been playing under that moniker for a while. Except, this time, Ahmet has said that it’s not allowed and forced Dweezil to change the name to “Dweezil Zappa Plays Frank Zappa” which is not nearly as catchy.

    • Copyrights

      • Universal Music secures summary judgment against IFP for copyright infringement

        This Kat hates long-haul flights, but is grateful that airlines have improved entertainment packages in an effort to make the journey less dull. She recently learnt that this in-flight entertainment is not just a source of boredom relief, but also, copyright contention. A group of record companies and music publishers brought a claim for copyright infringement against IFP, a producer of these entertainment packages. The plaintiffs, which included UMG Recordings, Capitol Records and Universal Music Publishing Group, claimed that IFP infringed copyright in numerous works by failing to secure appropriate copyright licences. The court’s tentative ruling which granted the plaintiffs summary judgment was subsequently adopted as the final judgment.

      • National Assembly ‘Kills’ French Three-Strikes Anti Piracy Law

        The French three-strikes anti-piracy law “Hadopi” is heralded by copyright holders as an effective way to curb piracy. However, in France the legislation has often been criticized and in a surprise move against the will of the Government, the National Assembly has now voted to dismantle it in a few years.

New Paper About the UPC Explains Why It is Bad for Small- and Medium-sized European Businesses

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna’s latest paper

Ingve paper

Summary: A detailed academic analysis of the Unitary (or Unified) Patent Court reveals/concludes/asserts that it is being marketed or promoted using a misleading premise and promise

“Unitary patent” and court system – A poisoned gift for SMEs is the title of a new paper from Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna, whom we mentioned here before because he closely studied the UPC for a long time (even before it was known as “UPC”). Based on the paper’s PDF (permission granted for us to host a copy), there is a big gap between truth/reality and promotional claims (advertising). The SMEs are often being exploited by proponents of the UPC, who sort of ‘hijack’ the voice and SMEs and claim to speak on their behalf when they say that the UPC would better serve SMEs, not large corporations that often come from outside Europe.

Dr. Ingve Björn StjernaAs the paper states in relation to Europe, “SME are by far the largest employers, their problems are always the problems of their employees and thus of a large number of European citizens. For this reason alone, this matter deserves a broad discussion in the national Parliaments of the affected EU member states. Of the 25 member states having signed the UPCA, so far nine have ratified – of 13 necessary for its entry into force –, 16 ratifications are still open. Insofar, any interested citizen should bring the matter to the attention of the MEP competent for his/her constituency and demand that, prior to its ratification, a broad Parliamentary discussion on pros and cons of the “patent package” should be held. If it is to enter into force in the present form, especially SMEs will have to live with it, this will usually not be to their advantage.”

We already wrote several posts here on why the UPC has nothing to offer to European SMEs and should thus be rejected. There are no pros that we can see, only cons. It’s a con. When patent lawyers and their media assert that UPC would serve SMEs one needs to stop and wonder what kind of clients they have (maybe potential patent trolls or their victims).

To quote the abstract of the paper:

On 16 February 2016, the German Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection presented two pieces of draft legislation for the ratification of the international Agreement on the Unified Patent Court. After the fees for the “unitary patent” have been fixed and a proposal for the court fees and the limits of reimbursable representation costs at the Unified Patent Court has been provided, the political promise that the new system would support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can be judged against the realities. It does not come as a surprise that it is not being fulfilled. Most recently, even the European Commission declared that cost risk would be so significant that SMEs required an insurance to cover it, while admitting at the same time that currently no such insurance is available. An overview on desire and reality as to the costs of the “unitary patent” and the Unified Patent Court.

In the face of EPO lobbying for the UPC (even a month ago in the UK) it is important for European citizens to speak out and to help stop the UPC, which is an unprecedented injustice much like TTIP and TPP. It’s not at all for the interests of European; au contraire.

[ES] Gobiernos en Europa Todavía Activos en Contra de la Gerencia de la EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

English/Original

Article as ODF

Publicado en Europe, Patents at 1:15 pm por el Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Philip Cordery

Sumario: Todavía hay trabajo político que está siendo hecho aunque discretamente contra Battistelli y sus chácales en la alta gerencia de la Oficina Europea de Patentes

 

A veces tenemos la impresión de derrotismo dentro de los empleados de la EPO. Algunos encontrarían difícil de creer que Battistelli renuciará y que los empleados despedidos retornen a sus puestos de trabajo, aunque trabajo todavía esta siendo hecho (usualmente más discreto que antes) para ese fin.

“Acerca de la situación de la EPO,” una persona nos informó acerca de un insider, “ella/el no espera que cambie mucho para mejoría, dado la reticencia del Consejo Administrativo para hacer otra cosa, que apoyar al presidente. Ella/el parece estar muy frustado/a por la falta de acción de los gobiernos nacionales, incluyendo nuestro ministro de (in)justicia en Alemania, quien es en mi opinión un chiste triste.”

Los Países Bajos están cada vez más preocupados así como Francia.

Alemania, por las razones que he explicado aquí varias veces antes, está cómodo haciendose de la vista gorda porque se beneficia económicamente de la EPO. Pero eso no significa que otros países también elijan la inacción. Los Países Bajos son cada vez más preocupados así como Francia. La dirección predominantemente francesa alrededor de Battistelli (sus amigos y sus familiares) se están convirtiendo en una vergüenza nacional que promueve la percepción de corrupción sistémica.

“El diputado Francés Philip Cordery,” escribió a la SUEPO el día de hoy “, informó en un blog fecha 25 de abril el año 2016 sobre una carta conjunta (escrito con otros parlamentarios franceses: Pierre-Yves Le Borgn ‘, Richard Yung, Claudine Lepage, Jean-Yves Leconte y Hélène Conway-Mouret), de 21 de abril de 2016, a la ministra francesa de Economía Emmanuel Macron. La carta fue enviada “con el fin de exigir una vez más que Francia tome medidas hacia una reforma de la gestión de esta organización internacional” “.

El PDF link/original en Francés [PDF] sugiere trabajo contínuo detrás de las escenas’, para decir así, no por primera vez por el Sr. Cordery [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Cordery de todas maneras sabe que Battistelli se ha convertido en fuente de gran vergüenza al pueblo Francés.

Una traducción del blog post[PDF] (original) y unatraducción de la carta[PDF]fue publicada en Ingles y publicada por la SUEPO y aquí va:

EPO: Mantengan la presión para reformar la gerencia

Después de la última reunión del Consejo de Administración de la Oficina Europea de Patentes, que, junto con un número de mis colegas que representan a los ciudadanos franceses establecidos fuera de Francia, pidió a la ministra de Economía, Emmanuel Macron, con el fin de exigir una vez más a Francia que adoptara acción hacia una reforma de la gestión de esta organización internacional.

Y la carta acompañante:

París, 21 de Abril el año 2016

Ref .: PC / AF / 169

Ministro,

Deseamos llamar su atención sobre la importancia de las decisiones adoptadas en la última reunión del Consejo de Administración de la Oficina Europea de Patentes.

Nos complace observar que la resolución fue votada a través, como resultado de un compromiso con el fin de obtener una mayoría. Por ello, ha sido posible centrarse en el conflicto social y la imposición de sanciones y procedimientos disciplinarios contra miembros del personal de EPO. Damos la bienvenida a la función desempeñada por Francia, que, por su mediación, ha aceptado sus responsabilidades y movilizado a sus socios con respecto a estas cuestiones.

Ahora estamos llamando a la mayor vigilancia de su parte con respecto a la aplicación efectiva de las medidas derivadas de la presente resolución. En nuestra opinión, es esencial que las personas interesadas se les da la oportunidad de hacer recurrir rápidamente a una autoridad externa para volver a examinar los problemas y actuar en el arbitraje con respecto a las sanciones que han sido impuestas sobre ellos, y que esto se ponen en vigor sin más demora.

La presente inmunidad de la gestión de la EPO con respecto a la gestión del personal y la elección de las actitudes estratégicas adoptadas por la Oficina es un asunto de gran preocupación. Se suscita preocupación en relación con el futuro de esta organización, y el desarrollo de la innovación en Europa. La nacionalidad y el estado como un ejecutivo francés del Presidente imponen una responsabilidad particular en nuestro país en la situación actual. Es por esta razón que, en nuestra opinión, es imperativo que Francia, a través de su representante oficial en el Consejo de Administración, actúa de tal manera que un cambio importante en la gestión de la Oficina pueda entrar en vigor rápidamente.

En la actualidad, los dos representantes del Sindicato que fueron despedidos en Munich no han sido reintegrados, y los abusos degradantes de los estatutos de la Oficina de continuar. Algunos

miembros del personal de la Haya están todavía bajo investigación. Uno de ellos en particular, ha sido privado de cualquier tratamiento como consecuencia de la falta de consideración de su trabajo parar debido a una enfermedad, dando lugar al temor de un posible despido. Por tanto, creemos que es esencial que nuestros propios ciudadanos, que son víctimas por igual con los otros miembros del personal de la política de gestión represiva adoptada por el Presidente de la Oficina, serán totalmente compatibles y continuamente durante esta prueba.

Estamos a su disposición para discutir estos asuntos con usted. Más que nunca, estamos convencidos de que una importante reforma de la gestión de la EPO es esencial, y que están deseosos de que nuestra

país debería comprometerse con este fin, sin ningún tipo de limitaciones.

Seguimos siendo, ministro, Atentamente

Philip Cordery

Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’

Richard Yung

Claudine Lepage

Jean-Yves Leconte

Hélène Conway-Mouret

Emmanuel MACRON

Minister of the Economy, Industry, and the Digital Sector

139, rue de Bercy

75572 Paris Cedex 12

Copy to Yves LAPIERRE

Director General

National Institute of Industrial Property

Assemblée Nationale – 126 rue de l’Université 75007 PARIS

pcordery@assemblee-nationale.fr – 01 40 63 06 58

Hay acción adiciónal de los estados miembros de la EU contra la EPO, pero detalles relevantes a ello podrían comprometer las acciones potencialmente. La saga de la EPO no se ha acabado, a pesar de la calma relativa. No se dejen engañar. Battistelli fue aconsejado a mantener un bajo perfil por alguna razón. Es una masiva operación de lavado de reputación.

 

Links 3/5/2016: International Day Against DRM, 25th Anniversary of Linux (Kernel) Near

Posted in News Roundup at 4:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why not use open source code examples? A Case Study of Prejudice in a Community of Practice

    We analyzed the perceptions of professional software developers as manifested in the LinkedIn online community, and used the theoretical lens of prejudice theory to interpret their answers in a broader context.

  • Critical Infrastructure Goes Open Source

    The electrical grid, water, roads and bridges—the infrastructure we take for granted—is seldom noticed until it’s unavailable. The burgeoning open source software movement is taking steps to help rebuild crumbling U.S. civil infrastructure while capitalizing on expansion in emerging markets by providing software building blocks to help develop interoperable and secure transportation, electric power, oil and gas as well as the healthcare infrastructure.

    Under a program launched in April called the Civil Infrastructure Platform, the Linux Foundation said the initiative would provide “an open source base layer of industrial grade software to enable the use and implementation of software building blocks for civil infrastructure.”

  • EMC prioritizes open-source integration

    Josh Bernstein, EMC’s new VP of technical strategy, sat down with Stu Miniman and Brian Gracely, cohosts of theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, during EMC World to talk about the value open source brings to EMC.

  • 10 Tips for Coding with Open Source Software

    Bootstrap is a framework to help you design websites faster and easier. It includes HTML and CSS based design templates for typography, forms, buttons, tables, navigation, modals, image carousels, etc. It also gives you support for JavaScript plugins.

  • Cisco Pushes Forward with Open-Source Strategy [VIDEO]

    For the last year, Lauren Cooney has been running open source strategy for the Chief Technology and Architecture Office at Cisco. Cooney’s career includes time spent at some of the biggest IT vendors in the world, including Microsoft as well as rival networking vendor Juniper, but the Cisco experience for her is a bit different, especially in terms of open source.

    In a video interview, Cooney discusses why Cisco is investing in open source and how it determines whether a project can work on Github alone, or if it needs a broad foundation to support it.

  • NPV Considerations for Open Source Big Data Technologies

    Mention the words “open source” and all kinds ideas probably come to mind such as “free”, “agility”, and “speed”. However, with any IT project, it is important to look at business benefits vs. costs in a manner that goes beyond generalizations. One method for benefit-cost analysis for open source big data projects is Net Present Value (NPV).

    It’s not unusual to find the IT community excited about the possibilities of open source. And with good reason as adoption of open source big data technologies may provide companies flexibility in charting their own path, ability to innovate faster and move at the speed of business. And yet, it is sage advice to temper some of the frenzy in adopting open source with a financial analysis.

  • Demystifying Containers for a Better DevOps Experience
  • Break scalability barriers in OpenFlow SDN

    Over the past couple of years, software-defined networking (SDN) has emerged as a strong alternative to traditional networking approaches in the areas of WAN, data center networks, and network overlay solutions. The primary benefit realized from SDN, besides open networking, is the ability to accelerate service deployments. SDN solutions using OpenFlow tackle complex problems, including dynamic provisioning, interconnection, and fault management. Although the functionality of SDN has evolved and matured, the scalability of SDNs based on OpenFlow has been limited by OpenFlow’s ties to ternary content-addressable memory (TCAM). OpenFlow by design was implemented in the TCAM.

  • Open-source project lets players experience Fallout 4 in VR

    This week, Fallout 4 players will finally be able to experience post-apocalyptic Boston firsthand, thanks to the VR capabilities of the Oculus Rift. However, this isn’t an official patch released by Bethesda; instead, the functionality is being offered up by a third-party, open-source project called Vireio Perception.

  • Blockchain

  • SaaS/Back End

  • BSD

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • UPSat, an open-source Greek satellite

      As part of this mission UPsat is equipped with a specialized scientific instrument (mNLP) designed for its mission needs. Every other component of the satellite is designed from scratch, built, tested and integrated by engineers, scientists and developers of the University of Patras and Libre Space Foundation. That includes the structural framework, the on board mission control computer, the telecommunications system, the power management system and the software that runs across all different subsystems.

  • Programming/Development

    • Distributed tracing — the most wanted and missed tool in the micro-service world.

      We, as engineers, always wanted to simplify and automate things. This is something in our nature. That’s how our brains work. That’s how procedural programming was born. After some time, the next level of evolution was object oriented programming.

      The idea was always the same. Take something big and try to split it into isolated abstractions with hidden implementations. It is much easier to think about complex system using abstractions. It is way more efficient to develop isolated blocks.

Leftovers

  • Why Do Colleges Still Give Preference To Kids Whose Parents Went There?

    But other students have a very different story. Some high schoolers — who are on average whiter and wealthier than their peers — are provided with a unique privilege in the college admissions process simply because they were born to the right family. This privilege is known as the legacy preference.

  • Riders stuck left dangling on Alton Towers roller coaster

    Nearly 30 people were this afternoon stuck dangling from a roller coaster that broke down at Alton Towers.

    The passengers were heard screaming and shouting for help when they got stuck on the first hill.

    Air Galactica came to a halt at 2pm this afternoon before the ride was eventually re-started. It is believed to have been affected by flooding.

    A member of staff was seen climbing up to reassure the people on the ride which only re-opened in March after being refurbished.

  • From Paintbox to PC: How London became the home of Hollywood VFX

    In a darkened room on the backstreets of London’s red light district, Mike McGee stared at a screen. Surrounded by a thick wall of cigarette smoke and impatient chain-smoking clients, he swiped a pen across the table, his movement replicated with surprising accuracy as a pixel-perfect line on the screen above. The clients—TV producers from the BBC—were impressed. In just a few short minutes, McGee had transformed a single frame of video into the beginnings of a title sequence. In a world where labour-intensive optical effects and manual rotoscoping were the norm, this was a revelation.

  • Hardware

    • Intel Decides To Let Go Of Broxton

      Broxton was to be Intel’s 2016 Atom SoC platform for phones and tablets. Broxton was to be using 14nm Goldmont CPU cores and Skylake graphics, but now it’s no more.

      For those that didn’t hear yet, it’s been confirmed that Intel is cancelling the Broxton platform and also letting go of their SoFIA platforms. With Intel failing to make inroads with high-end smartphones and tablets while ARM continues to dominate, Intel is letting go of these platforms and instead focusing upon other more profitable areas where they have greater success.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • ACLU Sues Over Indiana Law Creating a Protected Class of Fetuses

      The new law may also require pregnant women who have miscarriages to bury or cremate their fetal remains.

    • Is the GMO Labeling Movement About to Score a Major Victory?

      So close to the July 1 deadline for complying with Vermont’s GMO labeling law, and still no court ruling to overturn Vermont’s law. Still no federal legislation to preempt Vermont’s law.

    • Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast

      There is a dangerous radiological threat to the West Coast of the United States that puts the health of millions of Americans at risk. It includes dangers to public health, dangers to the food supply, and dangers to future generations from long-lived radionuclides, including some of the most toxic material in the world. It is not Fukushima, it is Hanford. While radiation from the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns is reaching the West Coast, carried across the ocean from Japan, the radiation from Hanford is already there, has been there for 70 years, and is in serious risk of catastrophe that could dwarf the effects of Fukushima even on Japan.

    • Families Sue ‘Sadistic’ Facility For Allegedly Abusing Developmentally Disabled Residents

      Part of the issue, the plaintiffs argue, stems from poor training at the managerial level. In the prior state investigation, officials found that staff members were not trained on how to document a resident’s physical injuries or health abnormalities — or on how to handle any behavioral issues. Without proper training, staff turned to abuse when faced with a challenge. Many often gave residents the wrong medication, falsified their medical documents, and failed to schedule necessary doctors’ appointments.

    • God’s Red Pencil? CRISPR and The Three Myths of Precise Genome Editing

      The second key error of CRISPR boosters is to assume that, even if we had complete precision, this would allow control over the consequences for the resulting organism.

      Suppose, as a non-Chinese speaker, I were to precisely remove from a Chinese text one character, one line, or one page. I would have one hundred percent precision, but zero control over the change in meaning. Precision, therefore, is only as useful as the understanding that underlies it, and surely no DNA biologist would propose we understand DNA–or else why are we studying it?

    • Flint Residents Outraged After Discovering The City Is In Talks With Private Water Companies

      Once again, decisions are being made about Flint’s tainted water system with no public announcement or conversation.

      Flint residents, whose longstanding complaints about water quality fell on deaf ears to disastrous effect, are experiencing some déjà vu over the next steps out of the city’s water crisis.

      The city has quietly started seeking bids from private water companies. City residents say they only discovered the move when a researcher at the consumer watchdog group Food & Water Watch unearthed a request for proposal (RFP) in a Global Water Intelligence report.

      The RFP is for an analysis of the city’s water system, which, thanks to officials who neglected to add corrosion control chemicals to the water coming in from the Flint River, has been leaching dangerously high levels of lead into residents’ drinking water. The analysis would give recommendations for how the system needs to be upgraded to bring it into line with best practices and address the Environmental Protection Agency’s order to take corrective measures. This particular contract wouldn’t make Flint’s public water system private on its own.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • The (Former) Riyadh Station Chief Defends His Saudi Friends from Charges of Terrorism

      On Sunday, former CIA Riyadh Station Chief John Brennan had a remarkable appearance on Meet the Press. A big part of it — the second to last thing he and Chuck Todd discussed — was Brennan’s argument against the release of the 28 pages (“so-called,” Brennan calls them) showing that 9/11 was facilitated by at least one Saudi operative.

      Brennan opposes their release in three ways. First, he falsely suggested that the 9/11 Commission investigated all the leads implicating the Saudis (and also pretends the “so-called 28 pages” got withheld for sources and methods and not to protect our buddies).

    • On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
    • America, unrepentant still

      Yes, the Vietnam War is remembered as a debacle and a defeat, but not as the moral sin it was and that Berrigan bravely protested. The war is described as misguided and by the right wing as poorly led and even prematurely ended. But it was profoundly immoral, an act of prolonged violence stoked by unconscionable arrogance, ignorance, lies and manipulation by political leaders. Phony theories of “falling dominoes” and of a unified and insatiable world communist movement were kept alive mainly because of electoral politics, especially the fears held by Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon of hardliners who could not countenance losing a war, despite the fact that the war was without merit and should never have been fought.

    • Know Where You Stand: Decades Ago, the Ever-Prescient Daniel Berrigan Lamented That the Dream of Israel Had Become A Nightmare

      In so many ways we mourn the indomitable poet, priest and activist Daniel Berrigan, who died at age 94 on the 41st anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War he decried and defied for years, starting with his famous 1968 burning – with homemade napalm – of Catonsville draft files with his brother Philip and other pacifists. “Our apologies, good friends,” he wrote in his play The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, “for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children, the angering of the orderlies in the front of the charnel house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise.” Father Berrigan got three years in federal prison for the action; when the appeals ran out, he refused to show up, spent four years opposing the war from underground, and went on to assemble an impressive rap sheet of arrests and convictions for protesting war, weaponry, nuclear power and the world’s other unholy ills. Thus did Kurt Vonnegut crown him, “Jesus as a poet.”

      Known for his fearless insights, Berrigan’s mantra was to, “Know where you stand, and stand there.” He remained true to it in a much-criticized 1973 speech to the Association of Arab University Graduates, where he denounced an Israel that had become “a criminal Jewish community” and, alongside a South Africa under apartheid and a U.S. embroiled in Vietnam, “a settler state (seeking) a Biblical justification for crimes against humanity.” He lamented the tragedy of Jews who after enduring the Holocaust “arose like warriors, armed to the teeth, (who) entered the imperial adventure and spread abroad the imperial deceptions,” going from slaves to masters who created slaves of “the people it has crushed”- Palestinians. Finally, he cites the “savage triumph” of a “model (that) is not the kingdom of peace; it is an Orwellian transplant, taken bodily from Big Brother’s bloody heart.” After the speech raised a furor, he defended it as “an act of outraged love.” At his passing, Berrigan’s family quotes his belief that, “Peacemaking is tough, unfinished, blood-ridden. We walk our hope and that’s the only way of keeping it going.” Today, they add, no one person can pick up his burden, but there is enough work for us all: “His spirit is free, it is alive in the world, and it is waiting for you.”

    • RIP Father Daniel Berrigan: Remembering the Life and Legacy of the Antiwar Priest & Poet
    • PART 2: Family and Friends Remember Father Daniel Berrigan, Legendary Antiwar Priest & Poet

      We continue our interview with close friends and the niece of the legendary antiwar priest, Father Daniel Berrigan, as we remember his life and legacy. He died on Saturday, just short of his 95th birthday. Berrigan was a poet, pacifist, educator, social activist, playwright and lifelong resister to what he called “American military imperialism.” Along with his late brother Phil, Dan Berrigan played an instrumental role in inspiring the antiwar and antidraft movement during the late 1960s, as well as the movement against nuclear weapons. He was the first Catholic priest to land on the FBI’s most wanted list. In early 1968, Father Daniel Berrigan made international headlines when he traveled to North Vietnam with historian Howard Zinn to bring home three U.S. prisoners of war. Later that year, Father Dan Berrigan, his brother Phil and seven others took 378 draft files from the draft board in Catonsville, Maryland. Then, in the parking lot of the draft board office, the activists set the draft records on fire, using homemade napalm, to protest the Vietnam War. They became known as the Catonsville Nine and invigorated the antiwar movement by inspiring over 100 similar acts of protest. It also shook the foundation of the tradition-bound Catholic Church. Then, in 1980, the Berrigan brothers and six others began the Plowshares Movement when they broke into the General Electric nuclear missile facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, hammered nuclear warhead nose cones and poured blood onto documents and files. They were arrested and charged with over 10 different felony and misdemeanor counts, and became known as the Plowshares Eight.

    • CIA Wants Its Narrative Back, Live-Tweets bin Laden Raid Five Years Later
    • ‘Rewriting History’ in 140 Characters as CIA Live Tweets Bin Laden Assassination

      The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was pilloried on Sunday for its decision to mark the 5th anniversary of the 2011 raid and killing of Osama bin Laden by “live-tweeting” the operation “as if it were happening today.”

      Beginning at 1:25 EDT, using the hashtag #UBLRaid (referring to the alternate spelling, “Usama”), the CIA reiterated its account of the May 2 raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad in Pakistan.

    • Syria: As fierce Fighting reignites, Aleppo on brink of ‘Humanitarian Disaster’

      Syria’s largest city, Aleppo has seen a worrying outbreak of violence in the past week that could fatally undermine the cessation of hostilities that had held between most Free Syrian Army units and the Syrian Arab Army.

      The ceasefire did not extend to al-Qaeda or Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), however, and it appears to be al-Qaeda that led the renewed fighting south of the city and mortar strikes from the rebel-held east on the Government-held west.

    • Trump’s Foreign Policy is just GOP Boilerplate, only more Confused

      He also showed himself in love with authoritarians abroad, perhaps seeing people like Vladimir Putin as soul mates.

    • Washington Brings Regime Change To Venezuela

      This manufactured “extraordinary threat” serves as the Obama regime’s excuse for overthrowing President Maduro in Venezuela. It is a Washington tradition to overthrow elected Latin American governments that try to represent the interest of the people, and not the interest of US corporations and banks.

    • Departing NATO Commander Hypes Nonexistent Russian Threat

      Thousands more US-led NATO forces are being provocatively deployed near Russia’s borders.

      Interviewed by Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter broadsheet, Sergey Lavrov accused NATO of “inching closer and closer to Russia’s borders. But when Russia takes action to ensure its security, we are told that Russia is engaging in dangerous maneuvers near NATO borders. In fact, NATO borders are getting closer to Russia, not the opposite.”

    • Republicans Don’t Want to Know Costs of U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

      Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives have lined up to quietly kill a cost estimate of the Pentagon’s three-decade nuclear modernization program, which experts predict will exceed $1 trillion. The vote was mentioned briefly in Politico’s morning briefing list last week but otherwise received no media coverage.

    • Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq

      USA Today revealed on April 19th that U.S. air forces have been operating under looser rules of engagement in Iraq and Syria since last fall. The war commander, Lt Gen McFarland, now orders air strikes that are expected to kill up to 10 civilians without prior approval from U.S. Central Command, and U.S. officials acknowledge that air strikes are killing more civilians under the new rules.

    • Why Russia Resents Us

      Friday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work announced that 4,000 NATO troops, including two U.S. battalions, will be moved into Poland and the Baltic States, right on Russia’s border.

      “The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the border with a lot of troops,” says Work, who calls this “extraordinarily provocative behavior.”

      But how are Russian troops deploying inside Russia “provocative,” while U.S. troops on Russia’s front porch are not? And before we ride this escalator up to a clash, we had best check our hole card.

    • Larry Wilmore Holds Nothing Back in Roast of Obama, Politicians and Media

      Comedian Larry Wilmore took real shots at President Obama, the media, various politicians and almost all the attendees at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday.

      Often getting booed, or a response of silence, Wilmore used the comedic opportunity to address real issues in a manner resembling Stephen Colbert back in 2006. He started fiercely within the first three minutes and had this to say (among much else):

      “It’s great, it looks like you’re really enjoying the last year of your presidency. Saw you hanging out with NBA players like Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors. That was cool, that was cool. Yeah. You know it kinda makes sense too because both of you like raining down bombs on people from long distances, right? Yeah. It’s true. What? Am I wrong? What? Speaking of drones, how is Wolf Blitzer still on television? Ask a follow-up question. Hey Wolf, I’m ready to project tonight’s winner: anyone that isn’t watching ‘The Situation Room.’ ”

    • Who is the Man Leading Iraq’s Green Zone Revolution?

      And Why Does Washington Hate Him So Much?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Political Violence in Honduras

      On March 3, assassins entered the home of Berta Caceres, leader of Honduras’ environmental and indigenous movement. They shot her friend Gustavo Castro Soto, the director of Friends of the Earth Mexico. He pretended to be dead, and so is the only witness of what came next. The assassins found Berta Caceres in another room and shot her in the chest, the stomach and the arms. When the assassins left the house, Castro went to Berta Caceres, who died in his arms.

      Investigation into the death of Berta Caceres is unlikely to be conducted with seriousness. The Honduran government suggested swiftly that it was likely that Castro had killed Berta Caceres and made false statements about assassins. That he had no motive to kill his friend and political ally seemed irrelevant. Castro has taken refuge in the Mexican embassy in Honduras’ capital, Tegucigalpa. He continues to fear for his life.

    • Military and Energy Company Officials Arrested for Murder of Berta Cáceres

      Authorities have arrested four suspects in the assassination of environmental and indigenous rights activist Berta Cáceres, the Honduran attorney general announced on Monday.

      Adding credence to suspicions that Cáceres’ killing was politically-motivated, among those arrested were Honduran military officials as well as an employee of Desarrollos Energéticos (or DESA), the private energy company behind the Agua Zarca dam, which Cáceres fiercely opposed.

      Central American-based freelance journalist Sandra Cuffe reported Monday that the arrests included Mariano Díaz Chávez and Edilson Atilio Duarte Meza. Cuffe wrote, “Honduran Armed Forces spokesperson identified Díaz as a major and Duarte as a former member of the military.”

    • Texas Floods Sending Toxic Fossil Fuel Runoff into Public Waters

      Recent flooding in Houston has sent crude oil and toxic chemicals into Texas waterways, and residents and experts say regulators are not doing enough to address the threat to public health and the environment.

      Photographs taken by emergency management officials show oil slicks and other evidence of toxins spreading through the Sabine River on the Texas-Louisiana border from flooding in March, and new evidence is mounting that spills from oil wells and fracking sites increase when water levels rise.

    • ‘Slap in the Face’: Top Court Overrules Local Fracking Bans in Colorado

      The Colorado Supreme Court ruled on Monday that state law trumps two cities’ attempts to stem the domestic fracking boom, issuing “a severe slap in the face” to Coloradans and local democracy alike.

      The court heard cases from Longmont, where voters banned the oil and gas drilling practice in 2012, and Fort Collins, where voters approved a 5-year moratorium in 2013. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group that brought the suits against both cities, argued that the fossil fuel-friendly state clearly regulates fracking, and the cities can’t forbid a practice that the state allows.

    • Why Bill Gates’ Math Error About Climate Change Matters [Ed: for profit]

      Bill Gates keeps saying confused and confusing things about climate policy and clean energy.

      Gates has positioned himself as a major player and spokesman in this arena with his “Breakthrough Energy Coalition,” a $2 billion effort he is spearheading to research and develop breakthrough “energy miracles.” That means his confused — and often simply wrong — pronouncements could have serious consequences in the public debate and are worth exploring in detail.

      Gates’ latest bizarre position, as as one media headline explained, is to dismiss a carbon tax — “Bill Gates: Carbon tax not right for the US.”

    • As Climate Disruption Advances, UN Warns: “The Future Is Happening Now”

      Each month as I write these dispatches, I shake my head in disbelief at the rapidity at which anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is occurring. It’s as though each month I think, “It can’t possibly keep happening at this incredible pace.”

      But it does.

      By late April, the Mauna Loa Observatory, which monitors atmospheric carbon dioxide, recorded an incredible daily reading: 409.3 parts per million. That is a range of atmospheric carbon dioxide content that this planet has not seen for the last 15 million years, and 2016 is poised to see these levels only continue to increase.

    • Judge Sides With Kids Suing The Government Over Climate Inaction: ‘These Kids Can’t Wait’

      In the case of kids concerned about climate change versus the federal government, the kids keep racking up historic wins.

      On Friday, a group of children suing the government for inaction on climate change scored a major victory, as a judge ruled that the Washington State Department of Ecology must deliver an emissions reduction rule by the end of this year. That decision follows another major win in mid-April, when an Oregon judge ruled that a similar lawsuit could go forward despite opposition from the fossil fuel industry.

    • Scientists see the future in natural resources

      From creating transparent wood for solar panels or windows to turning carbon dioxide and plant waste into plastic bottles, scientists are finding ingenious ways to sidestep fossil fuels.

  • Finance

    • Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?

      In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned depository bank, was more profitable even than J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The author attributed this remarkable performance to the state’s oil boom; but the boom has now become an oil bust, yet the BND’s profits continue to climb. Its 2015 Annual Report, published on April 20th, boasted its most profitable year ever.

      The BND has had record profits for the last 12 years, each year outperforming the last. In 2015 it reported $130.7 million in earnings, total assets of $7.4 billion, capital of $749 million, and a return on investment of a whopping 18.1 percent. Its lending portfolio grew by $486 million, a 12.7 percent increase, with growth in all four of its areas of concentration: agriculture, business, residential, and student loans.

    • The Third Way: Share-the-Gains Capitalism

      Marissa Mayer tells us a lot about why Americans are so angry, and why anti-establishment fury has become the biggest single force in American politics today.

      Mayer is CEO of Yahoo. Yahoo’s stock lost about a third of its value last year, as the company went from making $7.5 billion in 2014 to losing $4.4 billion in 2015. Yet Mayer raked in $36 million in compensation.

    • Just Say No to Corporate Rule

      In May 2014, Senator Elizabeth Warren talked about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. “From what I hear, Wall Street, pharmaceuticals, telecom, big polluters and outsourcers are all salivating at the chance to rig the deal in the upcoming trade talks. So the question is: Why are the trade talks secret? You’ll love this answer. Boy, the things you learn on Capitol Hill. I actually have had supporters of the deal say to me, ‘They have to be secret, because if the American people knew what was actually in them, they would be opposed.’”

      [...]

      If you aren’t already concerned about a deal being negotiated on behalf of giant corporations at the public’s expense, consider the following. One chapter in the deal, the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, threatens democracy and the sovereignty of governments.

    • The Donor Class That Buys Chicago’s Elections Is Overwhelmingly Rich and White—Unlike the City

      The windy city’s political donor class is disproportionately and overwhelmingly made up of rich white men with a penchant for austerity and budget cuts, according to the first-ever municipal-level study of race, class and gender disparities in buying elections.

    • The Devil Capitalism
    • Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis Poses A Special Problem For Zika Fighting Efforts
    • Puerto Rico Defaults on Debt to Pay Public Services
    • As Vulture Funds Circle, Puerto Rico Set to Default on Debt
    • The Super-Rich Tech Elite Is Just Fine With Big Government

      There’s something to this, but I suspect culture has a lot more to do with it. Most of these folks have spent their lives marinating in social liberalism, and being situated in the Bay Area just adds to that. So they start out with a visceral loathing of conservative social policies that pushes them in the direction of the Democratic Party. From there, tribalism does most of the additional work: once you’ve chosen a team, you tend to adopt all of the team’s views.

      Beyond that, yes, I imagine that tech zillionaires are more than normally aware of how much they rely on government: for basic research, for standards setting, for regulation that protects them from getting crushed by old-school dinosaurs, and so forth. And let’s be honest: most of the really rich ones have their wealth tied up almost entirely in capital gains, which doesn’t get taxed much anyway. So endorsing candidates who happen to favor higher tax rates on ordinary income (which they probably won’t get anyway) doesn’t really cost them much.

    • CETA: ISDS and data protection

      This is the fourth in a series of blogs on the EU-Canada trade agreement (CETA) and data protection.

      In earlier blogs we saw that under the CETA text Canada can give our personal data related to financial services, transfered to Canada, a lower protection than under the standard set by the Court of Justice of the EU in the Safe Harbour ruling. This is relevant as Canada is a member of the “Five Eyes”, a group of countries committed to (suspicionless) mass surveillance. We also saw that CETA does not allow data protection measures based on a higher data protection standard than agreed in CETA.

    • Why Releasing Text Isn’t Enough: Behind the Scenes of TTIP

      oday the draft text of the U.S.-Europe free trade agreement, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), was leaked by Greenpeace Netherlands. The leak reveals for the first time the current state of the text of 15 chapters and annexes, along with a confidential commentary from the European Union.

      There’s not much concerning digital rights issues in the current text, because text on most of those issues has not been tabled yet. The closest that we have is the Electronic communications/Telecommunications chapter, which despite its broader-seeming title, is almost entirely about the liberalization of the telecommunications sector, and raises few obvious concerns.

    • Leaked Documents On U.S.-E.U. Trade Deal Paint Worrisome Environmental Picture, Greenpeace Says

      By now, most in the environmental community know that there are major environmental and climate change concerns surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — that it could empower corporations to sue governments over environmental decisions and policies, for instance. But another trade deal, one being forged between the United States and European Union, has gotten less attention — until now.

      On Monday, Greenpeace Netherlands leaked documents from negotiations surrounding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The 248 pages of documents — which account for about a third of the total text — illustrate four major environmental concerns, Greenpeace says.

    • TTIP trade talks: Greenpeace leak ‘shows risks of EU-US deal’

      EU standards on the environment and public health risk being undermined by compromises with the US, Greenpeace has warned, citing leaked documents.

      The environmental group obtained 248 pages of classified documents from the TTIP trade talks, aimed at clinching a far-reaching EU-US free trade deal.

      Secrecy surrounding the talks has fuelled fears that US corporations may erode Europe’s consumer protections.

    • Greenpeace Netherlands Releases Explosive Documents on Just Concluded U.S.-Europe Trade Talks
    • Leaked TTIP Documents: Threats to Regulatory Protections
    • International trade agreements attempt to undermine EU environment and health protection
    • Comment on Leaked TTIP Text

      “It’s disgraceful that despite the fact TTIP would have such a profound impact on the lives of people across Europe, the only way that people get to know about these disturbing details is through leaks like these. TTIP is being cooked up behind closed doors because when ordinary people find out about the threat it poses to democracy and consumer protections, they are of course opposed to it.

    • Greenpeace Netherlands Releases TTIP Documents
    • ‘Today Marks the End of TTIP’: Greenpeace Leak Exposes Corporate Takeover

      The documents represent roughly two-thirds of the latest negotiating text, according to Greenpeace, and on some topics offer for the first time the position of the United States.

    • WHY IS THE RACIAL WEALTH GAP WIDENING? AND WHAT SHOULD BE DONE TO REVERSE IT?

      Wealth inequality is even more of a problem than income inequality. That’s because you have to have enough savings from income to begin to accumulate wealth – buying a house or investing in stocks and bonds, or saving up to send a child to college.

    • Watch: Billionaire Former Mayor Bloomberg Rails Against Demagoguery—Is Booed for Criticizing Safe Spaces
    • The Bernie Fade Begins

      “The 2016 presidential election,” Diana Johnstone recently wrote, “is shaping up as a contest between the two most hated people in America.” Bernie Sanders has called it quits. That’s what it means when your campaign says, as Bernie’s did two nights ago, that it looks forward to going to the Democratic National Convention to fight over the party’s platform, not over its presidential nomination. There’ll be no contested convention on the Democratic side. So what if Hillary Clinton is a “right wing fanatic” (Arun Gupta), a close friend of Wall Street, a backer of so-called free trade deals, and a spine-chilling war monger?

    • ‘This can’t happen by accident.’

      For generations, African Americans have faced unique barriers to owning a home — and enjoying the wealth it brings. In Atlanta, where predominantly black neighborhoods are still waiting for the recovery, the link between race and real estate fortune is stark.

    • Detroit Teachers Hold Sickout to Protest Broken Funding Promises

      Nearly every public school in Detroit was shut down on Monday as teachers city-wide held a “sickout” over news that the embattled district would not be able to pay them past June 30.

      The protest kept 94 out of 97 schools closed after the Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) announced the action on Sunday. Detroit Public Schools (DPS) emergency manager Judge Steven Rhodes told the union over the weekend that without additional funding from the legislature, the district would not have enough money to pay its 2,600 teachers’ already-earned salaries.

    • Detroit Teachers Launch Massive Protest After Learning They Won’t Be Paid This Summer

      Teachers across Detroit called in sick to work on Monday — a “sick-out” protest that ultimately shut down all but three public schools in the city because there weren’t enough teachers in class.

      The coordinated protest, which was organized by the Detroit Federation of Teachers, came soon after the school district’s emergency manager, Judge Steven Rhodes, announced that there won’t be enough money to pay teachers after June 30.

      “Detroit teachers deserve to be paid fairly for their work like every other working person… But Detroit Public Schools has just informed us that it cannot guarantee to pay these dedicated men and women for their work. This isn’t right. It isn’t fair,” the president of the teachers union, Ivy Bailey, told the Detroit News.

    • Big Business Charter School Chains Seek Millions in Taxpayer Dollars With No Accountability

      KIPP also asked the Office of Innovation and Improvement to redact the amounts of funding provided to KIPP by foundations that wrote letters of support for KIPP to receive federal taxpayer money under the grant.

    • The United States, Britain and the European Union

      On his farewell tour, President Barack Obama has stirred the pot ahead of the June referendum in Britain on whether the United Kingdom should stay in the European Union or leave. His warning to leavers that Britain cannot expect a trade agreement with the United States any time soon if it withdraws from the EU has infuriated leaders of the Brexit campaign, and delighted those who want to remain, including Prime Minister David Cameron. Obama’s message to Britain was that it should remain in the EU, and that it was in America’s interest, too.

      Some of the comments made by leading Brexit figures in the governing Conservative Party in retaliation to Obama’s intervention have been described as borderline racist.

      In a particularly outspoken jibe, London mayor and a member of the British cabinet, Boris Johnson, accused the American president of interfering in British politics. Johnson went on to say that after entering the House House Obama had ordered the removal a bust of the British wartime leader, Winston Churchill, from the Oval Office. Furthermore, he suggested that this might be because of Obama’s “part Kenyan ancestral dislike of the British empire.”

    • The Fed’s Urge to Raise Interest Rates

      Voters should know the president’s priorities in filling these positions. It will hugely affect their ability to carry through their economic agenda. Pretending the Fed does not exist is not serious economic policy. The public has a right to expect better.

    • Sam Brownback Gutted Kansas: How America’s Worst Governor and an Ultra-Conservative Ideology Wrecked an Entire State

      KCEG’s report partially demonstrates from one economic perspective why such a view of the world, when actualized into public policy, doesn’t work, except for those at the top of the financial food chain. KCEG rightly points out that the tax revenues devoted to state-provided services, such as transportation infrastructure, public education and healthcare, to name a few, are in actuality investments in some very “powerful economic development tools” available to Kansas (and other states).

    • Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough

      Class warfare is on display in stark terms at Verizon Communications, and although such direct terms are avoided by the corporate media, there is much talk of the strike against Verizon by the Communications Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as “labor’s last stand.” That might be a little hyperbolic, or it might be wishful thinking, as such talk of last stands is often intertwined with juxtaposing unionized older sectors with non-unionized sectors that are promoted as “new” and “vibrant.”

    • Billionaire Nike Co-Founder Confuses His Net Worth with U.S. Economic Growth

      IN A RECENT INTERVIEW with USA Today, Phil Knight, the co-founder and chair of Nike, expressed puzzlement over Americans’ anger about trade agreements like NAFTA, and concern that this anger is having an effect on the presidential race.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • State Party Officials Reportedly Displeased with Clinton-DNC ‘Laundering’ Scheme

      Sanders campaign lambastes Clinton for ‘looting funds meant for the state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign.’

    • Facebook Has Lost The War It Declared On Fake News

      Fake news stories are a scourge. Something different from parody news folks such as The Onion, there are outfits out there that produce false news stories simply to get clickthroughs and generate advertising revenue. And it isn’t just a couple of your Facebook friends and that weird uncle of yours that gets fooled by these things, even incredibly handsome and massively-intelligent writers such as myself are capable of getting completely misled into believing that a bullshit news story is real.

      Facebook is generally seen as a key multiplier in this false force of non-news, which is probably what led the social media giant to declare war on fake news sites a year or so back. So how’d that go? Well, the results as analyzed over at Buzzfeed seems to suggest that Facebook has either lost this war it declared or is losing it badly enough that it might as well give it up.

    • Exclusive: Aleppo Doctor Attacks Western Media for Bias, Censorship and Lies

      When the US and NATO war of aggression was launched against Syria, Dr Nabil Antaki could have abandoned Aleppo to ensure his own safety. Instead he decided to remain and to serve the besieged people of his City, working with various local charities. Above all, he wanted to bear witness to the destruction caused by Western support for the foreign armed groups who have been systematically destroying Syria and terrorising its people for the last 5 years.

    • Syria: The Real US-NATO Creators of Hell in Aleppo

      As US and NATO propaganda reaches another crescendo in Aleppo, it is important to remind ourselves of a few salient facts. First and foremost we need to understand that the prevailing force occupying Aleppo and terrorising civilians is US and NATO backed Al Nusra in the city itself and ISIS in Northern and Eastern outlying areas.

    • Could This Be Donald Trump’s Vice Presidential Pick?

      Meet Joni Ernst. Could she be Donald Trump’s choice for Vice President?

      The main attributes of a vice president are to balance the ticket, help raise money and then step back for four/eight years until it is her turn to run. You want someone good, but not too good, especially if you have an ego the size of Trump’s.

    • Ted Cruz’s Terrible Parenting Advice
    • Ted Cruz Tells Young Protester That He Deserves a Spanking

      On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz suggested that the best response to a young protester who yelled “you suck” during a campaign rally in Indiana would be a good spanking. It’s the second time the Republican presidential candidate has brought up the controversial form of physical punishment on the campaign trail.

    • Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve

      After decisively losing in 2012 because of their inability to build bridges with people of color, Republicans were at an impasse. The question was: would they reach out to people of color and attempt to bring them into the fold . . . or would they continue their free-market assault and ignore that their voting bloc was shrinking? They choose door number three.

    • Bernie, the Little Bird, and What May Be Our Last Best Chance to Get It Right

      Take heart, Sanders supporters. We’re down, but we’re not out.

      Bernie’s difficult path to the nomination just got a little rockier, but it’s still three months to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my years in presidential politics, it is to expect the unexpected, and that three months is an eternity in a political campaign. Anything can happen.

    • The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders

      Now, however, Bernie Sanders is facing the verdict of closed primaries in many states which bar independent voters from voting for any of the Democratic or Republican candidates. Pointedly, Senator Sanders won only one of the five states with primaries on April 26, 2016: Rhode Island. Why? Because that state has an open primary allowing independent voters, heavily pro-Sanders, to carry him to victory.

    • When NYT Real Estate Stories Read Like 19th Century Colonial Dispatches

      The New York Times Real Estate section is written for the rich by writers who are either themselves rich or very good at faking it. The tone is one of “oh, what inequality?” matter-of-factness, where $2 million loft purchases are thrown around like Seamless thai food orders. It’s a style of journalism where the writer uncritically adopts the class and corporate tone and verbiage of those they cover: the affluent and the cottage industries that emerge to suit their whims.

      [...]

      The author went on to refer to one of the wealthy brownstone-seekers, Matthew Trebek (son of Jeopardy host Alex Trebek, naturally), as engaging in “explorations” of Harlem, as if it were an undiscovered wilderness.

      It may seem like PC parsing, but this type of language helps normalize a racist mindset in an already racist industry. A 2012 report by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development found that discrimination and redlining, while more subtle than in decades past, is still rampant in the real estate business. Racially loaded terms like “pioneer” and “exploration” help reinforce the notion that long-existing communities of color are untamed frontiers needing to be settled.

    • Despicable Trump Ally Roger Stone Called for Bernie Sanders to Be Shot for Treason

      Too bad for Roger Stone that the internet remembers. This time it’s his sleazy red-baiting. These days, the notorious, nefarious Stone—opposition researcher, all-around dirty trickster, organizer of the “Brooks Brothers riot” of the 2000 Florida recount, rumor-monger of the Michelle Obama “whitey” tape, and general political hitman for the GOP—remains an ally of Donald Trump (even though he quit last year as Trump’s campaign manager). He is also chief of a Trump SuperPac, the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness. What specific consultations consultant Stone may be whispering into the billionaire’s ear can only be deduced by listening to what crawls out of Trump’s mouth.

    • Bernie Sanders Vows to Take His Fight All the Way to Democratic Convention

      Speaking at the National Press Club Sunday, Sen. Bernie Sanders told reporters his campaign would take the fight for the candidacy all the way to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

    • US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism

      The ongoing presidential race in the United States has revealed a number of phenomena that seem to have been brewing under the surface of neoliberal austerity economics for years. For one thing, it has shown a widespread popular discontent with the status quo. For another, it has revealed that the American public is no longer averse to socialistic ideas.

    • Chinese ‘invaders’ send cash registers ringing in Russia

      But it took more than just humour for Russia to gain the confidence of Chinese travellers.

      There are two key reasons why Chinese tourists have edged out those from Germany and the UK from the list of top visitors: a relaxed visa regime and the growing success of the China Friendly International Project by Russia’s tourism industry stakeholders last year that was engineered to create and facilitate initiatives for healthy and comfortable hospitality for tourists from China.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Yale Students Fight College Censorship The Right Way

      Screaming matches with whiny social-justice warriors may go viral on social media, but hosting forums for genuine dialogue is a better way to fight campus censorship.

    • Nine years of censorship

      Canadian scientists are now allowed to speak out about their work — and the government policy that had restricted communications.

    • Hinds should have spoken out against censorship from the inception

      Editor, I was a soldier of the struggle for a free press during the 1970s to 1992 and the restoration of democratic rule. I became a columnist at the Chronicle in 1993 after the free press was restored. After a few columns, then editor Sharief Khan informed me that he received heat from the government about my columns, and asked me to soften my position on certain issues. I opted to resign from the columns rather than compromise my values; unlike other columnists I didn’t compromise my integrity and independence and I don’t grovel for supper. Newspapers should not censor views, especially when supported by facts.

    • Victory! Court Rules Against Louisiana’s Online Censorship Law

      Before Friday, a Louisiana bookstore might have feared prosecution for allowing a teenager to browse a book like “The Catcher in the Rye” on its website.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Los Angeles Law Enforcement Official Resigns After Newspaper Publishes His Racist Emails

      A top law enforcement official in Los Angeles County resigned Sunday after reporters discovered a cache of racist emails he circulated.

      Tom Angel stepped down as Chief of Staff to L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell just days after a series of racist and anti-Muslim emails he’d sent and forwarded in 2012 and 2013 were published by the Los Angeles Times.

      “I took my Biology exam last Friday. I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently, ‘Blacks’ and ‘Mexicans’ were NOT the correct answers,” one of the emails Angel forwarded reads.

      Angel sent the emails while serving as Chief of Police in nearby Burbank, a community that is nearly one-quarter Latino and less than 3 percent black.

      In another message, Angel passed along a list of reasons “why Muslim Terrorists are so quick to commit suicide” that includes bullet points for “Constant wailing from some idiot in a tower,” “You can’t wash off the smell of donkey,” and “More than one mother in law.”

    • 3 Next Steps in the Political Revolution

      Bernie Sanders will campaign all the way up to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia to seek the nomination—and to continue building the “political revolution.”

      What is that political revolution, beyond his call to get the billionaires and corporations out and the people in?

    • FBI Chooses Secrecy Over Locking Up Criminals

      The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s refusal to discuss even the broad strokes of some of its secret investigative methods, such as implanting malware and tracking cellphones with Stingrays, is backfiring – if the goal is to actually enforce the law.

      In the most recent example, the FBI may be forced to drop its case against a Washington State school administrator charged with possessing child porn because it doesn’t want to tell the court or the defense how it got its evidence – even in the judge’s chambers.

    • Reassessing American ‘Heroes’

      There are plenty of other U.S. heroes of political renown and aggressive poor judgment, such as Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president of the U.S., who, while founding U.S. national parks and wildlife preserves, managed to find time to help engineer the Spanish-American War and the imperial seizure of Cuba and the Philippines.

    • 9 Arrested in Seattle After May Day Protesters Clash With Police

      The Seattle Police Department said violence rose out of a peaceful march for workers’ rights and immigration that took place earlier in the day. At least five officers were injured, including one who was hit with a Molotov cocktail, another who was struck in the face with a rock, and a third who was bitten by a protestor.

    • Bernie Sanders ‘Movement’ Sees Progressives Planning Next Step

      When asked about his post-primary plans, if Hillary Clinton clinches the Democratic nomination for president, Bernie Sanders was quick to tell ABC News in Rome last week that he would go back to his day job as a U.S. senator from Vermont.

      But several of the advocacy groups backing his campaign have begun strategizing about the next phase of what many of them view as Sanders’ “political revolution.”

      “Many are wondering, ‘What’s next?’ We want to get together and talk about it,” said Charles Lenchner, co-founder of People for Bernie, a grassroots organization that has been unofficially working alongside the senator’s presidential campaign from the beginning.

    • Nevada Lawmaker: It’s Okay To Aim Guns At Cops If They Aim At You First

      Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R), who is currently seeking her party’s nomination for an open U.S. House seat, said last week that she believes the right to self defense includes the right to aim your gun anyone who aims a gun at you, even if they are a law enforcement officer.

    • White Teen Girl Sends Nude Photos to Black Male. Police Arrest Him for Child Porn.

      Another male teenager’s future is in jeopardy after police charged him with possession of child pornography and contributing to the delinquency of a minor—all because he swapped sexy photos and videos with a girl.

      Levar Allen, a 17-year-old athlete at his Louisiana public school, is black. The girl, a 16-year-old, is white. Local news stories note that she initiated the sexting, and he reciprocated.

      His mother—a single mother of three—has spent thousands of dollars getting her son out of jail and fighting the charges. She thinks her son’s race may have played a role in the police department’s decision to vigorously punish him.

    • Refugee Woman Sets Herself On Fire To Protest Controversial Detention Center

      A 21-year-old woman named Hadon (who is also referred to as Hadan in media reports) suffered critical injuries from the self-immolation. She is currently being treated at a Nauruan hospital by four emergency doctors, including two anesthetists, the Nauruan government said in a statement released on Monday.

    • The Theory of Business Enterprise Part 3: Business Principles

      In the US the rise of the anti-Enlightenment right wing and its sponsors forces us to question whether the scientific mind continues to be a form of self-governance and of shared cultural values. And, of course, Natural Law lives on in the jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas, at least according to an astonishing article in the Regent University Law Review which I couldn’t make myself read because the sections I did read were appalling, google it if you have to know.

      Locke’s ideas generally are associated with the Founding Fathers. No doubt his positions on slavery and expropriating the lands of Native Americans, and his idea that ownership of private property free of governmental interference is a crucial element of freedom, were congenial to their personal desires and philosophical positions. We may need to think about property more closely, as we have done with the other two.
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    • Paper That Couldn’t Be Bothered To Report On Local Police Misconduct Fires Off Editorial Insulting Writer Who Actually Did

      As we recently covered here, a few Aiken, South Carolina, police officers engaged in a steady procession of Constitutional violations during a traffic stop predicated on nothing more than a (fully legal) temporary plate. Shirts were lifted and breasts exposed. At least one cop spent a considerable amount of time probing the passenger’s anus. For all intents and purposes, it was a roadside raping, performed under the color of law.

      The horrific traffic stop is the focus of a federal lawsuit… and a whole lot of belated scrambling by law enforcement and city officials. Radley Balko of the Washington Post, who broke the story, found himself on the receiving end of a sneering, condescending editorial by the Aiken Standard — the local paper which had no interest in covering the lawsuit until after national internet hellfire began raining down on the town it serves.

      The editorial is worth reading all the way through, if only to experience the surreality of being talked down to by an editor who wouldn’t know unbiased journalism if it showed up at his desk wearing a blue uniform and told him to kill an unflattering story.

    • Media Convicts Scores of ‘Gang Members’ on NYPD’s Say-So–No Trials Necessary

      On the morning of April 27, in concert with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the BATF, the NYPD conducted what authorities described as a “gang raid” on the Eastchester Gardens and Edenwald House housing projects in the Bronx, arresting roughly 100 people on a series of charges. The New York media, apparently tipped off ahead of time and present with cameras ready for the wholly-pointless-except-for-police-PR perp walk, jumped into action—trying and convicting the suspects as gang members solely on the say-so of the NYPD and federal officials.

    • Solitary Confinement is ‘No Touch’ Torture, and It Must Be Abolished

      Shortly after arriving at a makeshift military jail, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in May 2010, I was placed into the black hole of solitary confinement for the first time. Within two weeks, I was contemplating suicide.

      After a month on suicide watch, I was transferred back to US, to a tiny 6 x 8ft (roughly 2 x 2.5 meter) cell in a place that will haunt me for the rest of my life: the US Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia. I was held there for roughly nine months as a “prevention of injury” prisoner, a designation the Marine Corps and the Navy used to place me in highly restrictive solitary conditions without a psychiatrist’s approval.

      For 17 hours a day, I sat directly in front of at least two Marine Corps guards seated behind a one-way mirror. I was not allowed to lay down. I was not allowed to lean my back against the cell wall. I was not allowed to exercise. Sometimes, to keep from going crazy, I would stand up, walk around, or dance, as “dancing” was not considered exercise by the Marine Corps.

    • Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest

      Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun was, as was to be expected, the most colourful. The editor at the time, Kelvin MacKenzie, made it his personal mission to smear and condemn the supporters, claiming that hooligan Liverpudlians had urinated in glee on brave police, pilfered from the dead and obstructed those keen to resuscitate the dying.

      With the bodies still warm, he juggled two options of headline: “You Scum” or “The Truth.” Eventually, he went for the latter, despite warnings within the paper about the potential inaccuracy of the message. “Drunken Liverpool fans,” went the story, “viciously attacked rescue workers as they tried to revive victims of the Hillsborough soccer disaster, it was revealed last night.” To this day, some shops boycott that intemperate rag.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Allies join Defective by Design for the tenth anniversary of the International Day Against DRM

      Today community groups, activist organizations, and businesses are taking part in the International Day Against DRM, celebrating ten years since the first global day of action in 2006. The groups are united in envisioning a world without Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), technology that polices what people can do with digital media by spying on them and compromising their computer security. As the largest anti-DRM event in the world, the International Day Against DRM is intended as a counterpoint to the pro-DRM message broadcast by powerful media and software companies. The Day is coordinated by Defective by Design, a campaign of the Free Software Foundation.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • MSF Issues In-Depth Report On R&D And Drug Prices

      The substantive discussion of policy options include greater transparency on R&D costs; changing the incentives; setting priorities, coordinating efforts and ensuring sustainable financing; and government action. The report includes an analysis of how much it really costs to develop a drug, looking into recently asserted claims of massive expenditure to come up with a single product.

    • The Battle For Biosimilars In India
    • Australian Gov’t Commission Also Wants To Fix Patent Laws Down Under

      To fix this, they have a few suggestions — all of which seem worthwhile. First, they say the bar is way too low for granting patents, so Australia should raise the bar for what’s considered “inventive.” They suggest the standard should be changed to if the invention or solution “would have been obvious for a person skilled in the art to try with a reasonable expectation of success.” They even consider going beyond that, but recognize that some patent holders outside of Australia may freak out at such a suggestion and avoid the Australian market.

      The second suggestion is giving an “overarching objective” to patent law, which examiners can use as a sort of guiding light or touchstone. Basically, allow Australia to reject patents by arguing that granting such patents would go against the public interest.

    • Trademarks

      • University Educates Student On How Everyone Will Abuse Trademark Law

        Institutions for higher education are no strangers to abusing trademark law, I suppose, what with Harvard one time looking to lock up all kinds of language, or the University of North Dakota bullying artists over a parody version of its defunct and abandoned sports team logo. But it sure seems to feel more egregious for a learning institution to blatantly bullshit one of its own students through trademark threats, which is exactly what Dixie State University did when it claimed a student’s parody of its sports logo was trademark infringement.

    • Copyrights

      • “Everyone” Downloads Research Papers Illegally

        Science magazine just published a great piece on the utility of Sci-Hub. Unfortunately, its defense of its own business model is flawed.

        [...]

        First, a bit of background. The Sci-Hub archives contain nearly 50 million documents, with more being added every day; these archives have been built primarily without the explicit permission of the publishers that hold the copyright to this material. By maintaining tight control over those copyrights, academic publishers can charge often-exorbitant fees for annual subscriptions and one-time access to articles; yearly subscriptions to some specialized science, technology, engineering, and math journals can cost upward of $10,000. In 2015, the academic publisher Elsevier earned about $1.58 billion in profit on about $9.36 billion in revenue. Knowledge is power!

      • Australian Productivity Commission (APC) Recommends Adoption of Fair Use to Restore Balance in Copyright Law

        A draft report by the Australian Productivity Commission (APC) concludes that the current copyright law fails to properly balance the interests of copyright holders and users. It warns that “Australia’s copyright arrangements are weighed too heavily in favour of copyright owners, to the detriment of the long-term interests of both consumers and intermediate users.” The APC makes recommends changes to the law to address the imbalance, including “the introduction of a broad, principles-based fair use exception.” This follows the 2013 Australian Law Reform Commission report on Copyright in the Digital Economy, which also recommended that Australia amend its copyright law to include fair use.

      • Infojustice.org – Australian Commission Recommends Fair Use To Restore Balance In Copyright Law
      • Australian Gov’t Commission: Copyright Is Copywrong; Hurting The Public And Needs To Be Fixed

        Three years ago, down in Australia, the Australian Law Reform Commission started examining various copyright reform proposals, and eventually made a rather mild suggestion: bring fair use to Australia. Frankly, we felt that the Commission could have gone much further, but it basically said to copy the American approach to fair use. Not surprisingly, Hollywood flipped out, claiming that it would “lead to an increase in piracy.” And, soon after that, the new government, led by Attorney General George Brandis flat out ignored the report and pushed for expanding copyright against the public interest, and very much towards exactly what Hollywood wanted. This wasn’t all that surprising, given that it was revealed that Hollywood representatives spent a lot of time with Brandis, while he deliberately avoided meeting with representatives of the public.

05.02.16

Interesting Supreme Court Cases About Patents in the United States

Posted in America, Courtroom, Patents at 1:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another ‘Alice’ on the way?

The bronze doors of the US Supreme Court
The bronze doors of the US Supreme Court

Summary: A quick review of some of the latest developments regarding SCOTUS (the US Supreme Court) as far as patents go

There will soon be an interesting design patent case at the Supreme Court of the United States, alongside other cases that are not about patents and some that are (some are about copyrights too). A new article by Dennis Crouch, covering a “patent-copyright parallel” (not exactly the same as in Oracle v. Google), says about one such case: “In both patent and copyright cases the issue of laches arises more often than you might think because of the legal treatment of “ongoing” infringement. Each infringing act is seen as a new act of infringement. Thus, the six-year limits period starts anew each time a new copy of the infringing product is made, sold, or used. If someone has been making an infringing product for the past 10 years, the statute would let the patentee them reach back 6 years for damages. Courts often see that result as as problematic when the patentee sits on its rights for so long (and since most civil claims have a shorter period of limitations) and thus apply the laches doctrine to limit collection of back damages even when within the six-year period.”

“Müller essentially changed sides and he is against Apple’s unreasonable patent demands these days.”“This is, incidentally,” said this one person, “the second time this term that SCOTUS has granted one copyright and one patent case in a day” (SCOTUS typically rules in favour of reformists these days, so whichever such case the Justices take under their wing would likely end well).

As Florian Müller put it in this morning’s article about design patents: “In about five weeks from now, we’ll see how successful Samsung’s mobilization efforts have been, and two months after that we’ll see the fruits of Apple’s campaigning.” The focus of Müller, however, is stated upfront in his title: “Where will the ‘friends of the Supreme Court’ come down on design patent damages in Apple v. Samsung?” Müller and I do not agree on the Oracle v. Google case (we had a long exchange about it today), but we do agree on the Samsung case. Müller essentially changed sides and he is against Apple’s unreasonable patent demands these days. If SCOTUS rules against Apple (in any of the ongoing cases), it will be good news for Google, for Android, for Free software, and for Linux. Apple has placed itself on the wrong side of history.

Governments in Europe Still Active Against EPO Management

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Philip Cordery

Summary: There is still political work being done — albeit rather discreetly — against Battistelli and his goons at the European Patent Office’s top-level management

WE sometimes get the impression of defeatism among EPO staff. Some find it hard to believe that Battistelli will step down and dismissed staff representatives reintegrated into the workforce, even though work is still being done (usually more discreetly than before) towards that.

“As for the EPO situation,” one person told us about an insider, “s/he doesn’t expect much to change for the better, given the Administrative Council’s unwillingness to do anything other than, more or less, backing the president. S/He, too, appears to be very frustrated with the lack of action on the part of national governments, including our minister of (in)justice in Germany, who’s a sad joke in my opinion.”

“The Netherlands is increasingly concerned and so is France.”Germany, for reasons we have explained here several times before, feels comfortable turning a blind eye because it benefits financially from the EPO. But that doesn’t mean other countries too choose inaction. The Netherlands is increasingly concerned and so is France. The predominantly French management around Battistelli (his cronies and their family members) are becoming a national embarrassment that promotes perception of systemic corruption.

“The French MP Philip Cordery,” SUEPO wrote earlier today, “reported in a blog post dated 25 April 2016 about a joint letter (written with other French MPs: Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, Richard Yung, Claudine Lepage, Jean-Yves Leconte and Hélène Conway-Mouret), dated 21 April 2016, to the French Minister of Economic Affairs Emmanuel Macron. The letter was sent “in order to demand once again that France take action towards a reform of the management of this international organization”.”

The PDF link/original in French [PDF] suggests ongoing work ‘behind the scenes’, so to speak, not for the first time from Mr. Cordery [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Cordery et al ought to know that Battistelli has become a source of great shame to France.

A translation of the blog post [PDF] (original) and a translation of the letter [PDF] in English was posted by SUEPO and here it is in English:

EPO: Keep up the pressure for management reform

Following the last meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office, I, together with a number of my colleagues representing French citizens established outside France, called upon the Minister of the Economy, Emmanuel Macron, in order to demand once again that France take action towards a reform of the management of this international organization.

And the accompanying letter:

Paris, 21 April 2016

Ref.: PC/AF/169

Minister,

We wish to draw your attention to the importance of the decisions taken at the last meeting of the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office.

We are pleased to note that a resolution was voted through, resulting from a compromise in order to obtain a majority. It has therefore been possible to focus on the social conflict and the imposition of sanctions and disciplinary procedures against EPO staff members. We welcome the role played by France, which, by your mediation, has accepted its responsibilities and mobilised its partners with regard to these issues.

We are now calling for the greatest vigilance on your part with regard to the effective implementation of the measures arising from this resolution. In our view it is essential that the persons concerned are given the opportunity to make recourse rapidly to an outside authority to re-examine the issues and act in arbitration with regard to the sanctions which may have been imposed on them, and that this be put into effect without any further delay.

The present immunity of the management of the EPO with regard to management of the staff and the choice of strategic attitudes adopted by the Office is a matter of great concern. It is arousing concern with regard to the future of this organization, and the development of innovation in Europe. The nationality and the status as a French executive of the President impose a particular responsibility on our country in the present situation. It is for this reason that in our view it is imperative that France, by way of its official representative on the Administrative Council, takes action such that a major change in the management of the Office can come into effect rapidly.

At the present time, the two staff union representatives who were dismissed in Munich have not been reinstated, and the degrading abuses of the statutes of the Office continue. Some
staff members at the Hague are still under investigation. One of them in particular has been deprived of any treatment as a result of failure to take account of his stopping work due to illness, giving rise to fear of possible dismissal. We therefore believe it to be essential that our own citizens, who are victims equally with the other staff members of the repressive managerial policy adopted by the President of the Office, be fully and continuously supported during this ordeal.

We are at your disposal to discuss these matters with you. More than ever, we are convinced that a major reform of the management of the EPO is essential, and we are eager that our
country should commit itself to this end, without any shortcomings.

We remain, Minister, yours faithfully

Philip Cordery

Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’

Richard Yung

Claudine Lepage

Jean-Yves Leconte

Hélène Conway-Mouret

Emmanuel MACRON
Minister of the Economy, Industry, and the Digital Sector
139, rue de Bercy
75572 Paris Cedex 12

Copy to Yves LAPIERRE
Director General
National Institute of Industrial Property

Assemblée Nationale – 126 rue de l’Université 75007 PARIS
pcordery@assemblee-nationale.fr – 01 40 63 06 58

There is action in additional EU member states against the EPO, but revealing details at this stage would potentially compromise actions. The EPO saga is far from over, in spite of the relative calm. Don’t be misled. Battistelli was advised to keep a low profile for a reason. It’s a massive reputation laundering operation.

The European Spam Office (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Marketing, Patents at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is all from the past hour, in succession (EPO’s Twitter feed in a period of just 15 minutes, 3pm-3:15pm GMT)

EPO spam

Summary: EPO budget at ‘work’, days after doing copy-paste jobs and also working overtime in the weekend for an extravagant and needless/purposeless event (except for Battistelli's own pride)

Not Just Benoît Battistelli and Willy Minnoye (EPO): Željko Topić Too Thinks He is Above the Law, Avoids the Judges and Courts

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 8:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Arrogance apparently runs deep inside EPO veins

Željko Topić article

Summary: The latest developments regarding some of the criminal complaints and civil lawsuits against Topić (above), who is now a Vice-President at the European Patent Office (EPO)

EPO management vainly disregards judges, it doesn’t just attack them (e.g. dismisses or suspends them if it does not think that they're loyal enough to Battistelli, in spite of complete independence).

More news from Croatia have landed on our lap and it’s quite revealing. It says a lot about Željko Topić as an individual, not just as a ‘professional’. Much like Willy Minnoye proudly proclaiming that he would ignore rulings from the highest Dutch judges, Topić apparently believes that he is above the law. He is not showing up in court (cases which he is losing) and based on additional information we have been given, this unacceptable behaviour continues to date. How can EPO stakeholders take seriously people who don’t believe in the rule of law (except when it suddenly suits them and they can distort the law to silence critics) if they’re trying to be granted patents which presumably would be enforced in a court of law?

“How can EPO stakeholders take seriously people who don’t believe in the rule of law (except when it suddenly suits them and they can distort the law to silence critics) if they’re trying to be granted patents which presumably would be enforced in a court of law?”“The origins of this story go back quite a long way,” told us a source, “as far back as 2007 in fact. This is a symptom of the Croatian legal system which is notoriously slow and where cases take many years to process (especially if there is some kind of political interference). It’s not that different from the EPO which may explain why Topić fitted in so well. He was probably able to give his boss some good tips on how to exploit a dysfunctional legal system to the detriment of EPO staff.

“The story begins back in November 2007 when the Croatian public sector union SDLSN (“Trade Union of State and Local Officials and Employees of the Republic of Croatia) reported on the “Bullying of ‘unwanted’ civil servants” at the State Intellectual Property Office.”

This was mentioned in an older article (with this translated 2007 report and suicide 'collateral damage' therein).

Our source continues: “The affair resurfaced in the Croatian press on 5 March 2012 when the newspaper “Jutarnji List” [shown above] published a short report which explained that SIPO employees who had been targeted by the “bullying” action in 2007 had filed a number of criminal complaints and a civil lawsuit against Topić.”

Here is an English translation of this article:

JUTARNJI LIST

5 March 2012

Team selected for culling: Željko Topić, head of the SIPO for years, pursued in court

He established a special unit with 10 officials selected for dismissal

Željko Topić, Director of the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO), who has been linked to numerous scandals like buying a luxury Mercedes at the expense of the Institute, is under suspicion of having abused his employees.

An invented and displaced department

The findings of the administrative labour inspectorate from 25 January 2008 confirm that that on 15 October 2007 Topić deliberately selected a group of ten employees at the SIPO for transfer to a professional unit which he had established and called “The extraction and storage of non-administrative mail“. It didn’t bother the Director that none of his ten officials were qualified for the task of archiving as they included among their ranks IT experts, a professor of French, a Master of Engineering, senior economists and administrative lawyers.

Due to the “urgency of the work” ten officials were moved from Vukovara Street [SIPO headquarters] into offices in Sava Street 118 where, confused and outraged, they languished for twenty days without work. It was not until November 13th that the first document arrived but even then they could not do their job because the computer was not connected to the database at the SIPO headquarters.

Realizing that their transfer was actually a downgrading and a prelude to dismissal, in October 2007 the employees reported Topić to the labour inspectorate.

It was determined that Topić was not authorised to set up new departments and that the ten employees were not qualified for archiving. Topić tried to justify his actions in front of the labour inspectorate by claiming that these were employees who had performed their work badly but the inspectorate found that the last assessment of their work from 2003 was “very successful”.

One official committed suicide

The inspectorate ordered Topić to return the officials to their previous jobs which he did. But then one of the transferred officials committed suicide. Three criminal charges were filed against Topić and one civil lawsuit was initiated. The procedures are still ongoing.

“No information is available about the status of the criminal complaints,” we got told, “but the civil lawsuit which was filed some time around 2008 is still pending in 2016! Welcome to the Croatian legal system! EPO employees may have a feeling of dejà-vu…”

“EPO employees may have a feeling of dejà-vu…”
      –Anonymous
We covered one such story only a day ago (this morning we published a Spanish translation).

Our source continues: “One of the lead plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit against Topić is Jadranka Oklobdžija who was the Chairperson of the staff union at the SIPO at the time in question (2007). According to reliable reports from Zagreb, Topić has been summoned to appear before the court in the civil proceedings on four occasions but each time he has failed to turn up.

“The latest hearing in the civil action took place on 1st April 2016. Topić was in Zagreb on the day but despite having been summoned, he didn’t bother to turn up in court for the hearing.

“So it seems that a new summons will now be sent directly to Topić at the EPO in Munich.”
      –Anonymous
“The judge seems to have got wind of the fact that Topić was in town and she questioned a representative of SIPO about his failure to appear. The SIPO representative said that Topić had arrived in Zagreb the previous day (31 March) and was due to return to Munich the following day (2 April). It seems that the judge was not amused at being treated like an “April fool”. She requested SIPO to provide details of Topić’s address at the EPO so that the court could send a summons to him in Munich. The SIPO representative objected to this but the judge overruled the objection and made an order that Topić’s address in Munich should be disclosed to the court. So it seems that a new summons will now be sent directly to Topić at the EPO in Munich.”

It sure looks like the EPO is unable to escape Topić’s past, no matter how hard it attempts to deny it, even punishing those who ‘dare’ or are brave enough to speak about it.

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