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Free Software Sentry – watching and reporting maneuvers of those threatened by software freedom
Updated: 1 min 26 sec ago

French Stress Levels at the EPO and Replacement of Patent Quality With ‘Autopilot’ (Like INPI, France)

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 07:42:41 AM

Summary: Concerns expressed not only about the management style of Benoît Battistelli but also his disregard/disdain for science (or patent assessment)

YESTERDAY, somebody wrote to us regarding the EPO. It was about stress as measured among French workers. There are various but few French companies where the working conditions were reported to be notoriously toxic like at the EPO (including suicides).

Here is the message in question:

I have found this article in the morning news:

Un quart des salariés français sont dans un “état d’hyperstress

The title translates “one fourth of the French employees are in an hyperstress condition”.

I hope you understand the French content. It is remarkable to see that it applies to 100% to the brave new EPO. Are these kinds of managerial skills taught at the ENA? This is an excellent perspective for the next employer of Monsieur Battistelli, his curriculum fits perfectly.

As we noted earlier this month, Battistelli and his colleagues in politics are notorious in their own town, too. There are press articles about it (in French). They’re considered to be tyrannical.

In Battistelli’s mind, based on the latest proposed ‘reforms’ (to be covered shortly), the goal it to make examiners obsolete (along with patent quality).

4 days late this comment was approved by IP Kat (only yesterday it appeared, but it was posted 5 days ago):

Well , it may help not to mix technologies, functionalities and examiner targets. Ansera uses off the shelf technologies for performing searches, nothing that Google has not been doing for ages or any modern data retreival system. Not sure the EPO can seriously pretend to be a reference in searches while keeping technology of the 80’s. What is different in Ansera from say Google, is that it supports the query language unique to the EPO and yes , surprise surprise, searching with classes. I think that by now everybody knows that ANYTHING is used as an excuse for higher targets.

SUEPO has been warning about this for years. These things do not work well. In fact, it’s incredible that decisions on these matters are made without consulting examiners who understand the technicalities. Who knows how low a quality European Patents (EPs) from the past few years might be. It remains to be learned from statistics about litigation, and that may take years if not a decade to become visible.

Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić (EPO President and Vice-President) Try to Keep ‘Independent’ Judge in a Limbo

Tuesday 28th of November 2017 07:21:43 AM

Related: Munich State Attorney is Pursuing Criminal Charges Against the European Patent Office


The International Criminal Court (ICC). Author/photographer: Vincent van Zeijst

Summary: Additional information about the EPO defamation case in Munich (alluded to occasionally by the Administrative Council but never spoken about by the media)

THE situation at the EPO is really bad because judges who are supposed to be independent are being terrorised by Battistelli’s regime. We’ll revisit this point later this morning.

“Perhaps the Administrative Council members should have made the former ICC judge the next EPO President, but knowing their complicity in all this, they were probably afraid that they too would be held accountable.”“Separately,” an insider said, “a source called patentlyobvious reported over the weekend that Battistelli and his vice-president are rumoured to have lost a private prosecution case for alleged insult and defamation filed against an EPO staff member, [] and that the Munich Public Prosecutor may now be considering an investigation of the EPO officials. This could not be confirmed by press time. [] [] An insider informed me about the following: Battistelli and VP4 have lost a couple of times, but kept re-filing so there was always some pending case, so the [Administrative] Council could not close the disciplinary case (against the suspended Judge). [] Here is my reply: That makes sense! Vexatious litigation considered an abuse of the judicial process and may result in sanctions against the offender. A well known tactic to harass and subdue an adversary.”

This is why the EPO continues not only to be defunct but also maintain the “perception of” being defunct (to use its spin regarding the perceived ‘independence’ of the judges). Perhaps the Administrative Council members should have made the former ICC judge the next EPO President, but knowing their complicity in all this, they were probably afraid that they too would be held accountable. As we shall explain later, the Chairman of the Administrative Council (Dr. Ernst) is himself partly culpable.

Battistelli’s Big Fat Greek Wedding at the EPO’s Budget and Finance Committee

Monday 27th of November 2017 05:28:30 AM

Related: Battistelli is Busy Securing the Vote of Countries Whose Support and Tickets Are Easy to ‘Buy’

Summary: Information from inside the EPO regarding the Budget and Finance Committee and Battistelli’s alleged leverage over it

“When the Greek representative left the Greek patent office,” an insider from the EPO told us, “Battistelli kept him as president of the finance and budget committee for another two years, illegally of course. And why? The answer is obvious. Serafeim Stasinos at that time was rather stronger than the Danish counterpart.”

“Lots of money [was] in Battistelli’s pocket while the Greek representative was president of the finance and budget committee…”
      –AnonymousWe had previously heard something like this (about Greek people in charge of finance at the EPO), so the above message rang a bell.

“This Greek guy is a master in bullying,” continued this source. “You should ask the Greek employees about that…”

“Lots of money [was] in Battistelli’s pocket while the Greek representative was president of the finance and budget committee,” our source claimed. If anyone out there has additional information about this, please do get in touch (preferably anonymously).

We can’t help but wonder if all this was also Battistelli’s way of buying Greek representatives’ votes.

“The representatives make their own deals, as Battistelli is quite generous to them…”
      –Anonymous“But also there is a rumour about the Italian representative,” our source continued. “This information comes from epi. To appoint someone whose name is not involved in anything so fat and at the same time can be manipulated.”

Her name is Loredana Gulino and she is listed here. epi has not made a statement, so this is just hearsay.

“The issue is that whoever will be, nothing changes,” our source explained. “The representatives make their own deals, as Battistelli is quite generous to them…”

“Two years ago the Greek representative changed again and came from the left party. At the beginning he opposed Battistelli, and some months later become Battistelli’s puppet. Ioannis Kaplanis is the “left” representative at the AC” (Administrative Council).

Raw: Open Letter Regarding Likely Violations of the EPC and Damage to the EPO’s Reputation

Monday 27th of November 2017 04:54:28 AM

Also see: The European Patent Convention (EPC) is Habitually Being Violated by the President of the EPO


Full document [PDF]

Summary: The EPO‘s longstanding deviations from the treaty that gave it the power to grant patents (European Patent Convention)

“Legal and Administrative Rules at the EPO Are Similar to Those at SIPO” (China)

Monday 27th of November 2017 04:20:32 AM

Patent quality and human rights alike


Also see: Workers’ rights activists sentenced in China

Summary: Battistelli’s emulation of the Chinese model (so-called ‘production’ at the expense of economic rationale and human factors) as covered by Chinese state media and the latest lies about the Unitary Patent (UPC)

THE EPO has quickly morphed or devolved into what we called "SIPO Europe" about a year ago. Patent quality and human rights matter no more. It’s all about ‘producing’ as many patents as possible, as quickly as possible. It’s the very antithesis of patent systems.

“It’s all about ‘producing’ as many patents as possible, as quickly as possible.”The “legal and administrative rules at the EPO are similar to those at SIPO,” says Li Yahui in the official media of China today (Official China News Service in English, also known as ECNS).

So far, only two English-speaking sites (based in Britain) were disseminating EPO 'press releases' with 'prepared' Battistelli quotes about this. Now China does the same thing and Battistelli ends with a lie about UPC, insisting it will start next year. To quote:

With more than 30 years of development, the cooperation between China’s State Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office has evolved from a technical partnership to a strategic one, EPO President Benoit Battistelli said in a recent news conference in Beijing.

The two sides signed a new comprehensive strategic partnership agreement on Nov 23 with the aim of strengthening cooperation between the two offices and providing better services for global intellectual property users and contributing to improvements in the world’s IP system.

“SIPO and the EPO are equal partners sharing similar views and objectives for the development of the global IP system,” said Battistelli.

[...]

He said the Unitary Patent system will be applied next year, which is an improvement on the current European patent system, as it will make it possible to get patent protections in 26 European Union members by submitting a single request to the EPO. It will not only simplify patent granting procedures, but also cut the application costs by 70 percent.

That last part is a lie. As we said some days ago, the Constitutional Court (CC) case may not be decided before 2020. A source close to the action has just said that “if German CC holds hearing [then] judgement before 2020 is unlikely.”

“Yes, don’t expect the UPC to get anywhere. But at the time time vigilance is needed because Team UPC is very manipulative and mischievous.”It was said in response to David Pearce‏ (former ‘Kat’), who had stressed again: “As I’ve said before, the #UPC is dead. Start again, and do it properly this time please.”

Yes, don’t expect the UPC to get anywhere. But at the time time vigilance is needed because Team UPC is very manipulative and mischievous. The EPO is lobbying in Brussels (we covered this a couple of years back) and Team UPC too now boasts about expanding to Brussels. [via]

The EPO and Team UPC are trying to make it all political. They cannot make it lawful, so they attempt to bypass the law.

Even PTAB Bashers Expect the US Supreme Court to Defend PTAB in Important Case Which Starts Later Today

Monday 27th of November 2017 03:28:19 AM

The voice of Clarence Thomas is expected to play a key role

Summary: The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), whose process of IPR as per AIA helps thwart software patents, is expected to be defended by the Justices of the US Supreme Court

SO, starting Monday the US Supreme Court will hear an important case known as Oil States (shorthand). This case helps determine to what degree if any PTAB can correct decisions made to grant (at the USPTO). PTAB has already invalidated thousands of granted patents, many of which were software patents, so this case is important to us.

Three Supreme Court petitions have just been mentioned by Patently-O, which (as we pointed out early on Sunday) spent a lot of time pressuring the Supreme Court to scuttle PTAB. Prior to that the blog had another strategy. The pricipal PTAB basher, Dennis Crouch, now openly admits that he expects PTAB to endure (see third paragraph):

My expectation is that the AIA and [US]PTO’s approach will be upheld in both cases. At oral arguments look for any signals that conservatives will break away from Justice Thomas notion that patent rights are not “core private property” but instead are properly considered lesser franchise rights. In addition, look for consideration of whether the justices are thinking outside-of-patent-law at a bigger picture review of public rights doctrine.

Justice Thomas is currently mentioned in some headlines for sexual abuse allegations (Wikipedia has a whole section about that), but he is correct in this case about patents not being “private property”, as we noted earlier this year when we refuted Crouch.

Links 26/11/2017: Mesa 17.2.6, Builder 3.27 Progress, LibreOffice 6.0 Beta

Sunday 26th of November 2017 05:26:14 PM

Contents GNU/Linux
  • Desktop
  • Server
    • AWS to Help Build ONNX Open Source AI Platform

      Amazon Web Services has become the latest tech firm to join the deep learning community’s collaboration on the Open Neural Network Exchange, recently launched to advance artificial intelligence in a frictionless and interoperable environment. Facebook and Microsoft led the effort.

      As part of that collaboration, AWS made its open source Python package, ONNX-MxNet, available as a deep learning framework that offers application programming interfaces across multiple languages including Python, Scala and open source statistics software R.

    • container-diff – an Open Source Tool from Google for Analyzing Differences Between Docker Images

      Google released an open source project called container-diff which can be used to analyze differences between Docker images. It supports file-system differences and is aware of changes brought about by the apt, npm and pip package managers.

      Dockerfiles are used to create and make additions to container images. A change in the Dockerfile followed by a rebuild leads to the creation of a new image. Differences between Dockerfile versions can be easily seen, usually by using the source control system’s diff tool, since they are plain text. However, it is difficult to visualize or list down the exact changes that occurred in the image as a result of a new command in the Dockerfile. This can become a challenge when the application being packaged in the image has dependencies on specific versions of other software, and there are downstream dependencies that make it complex to track what will get installed as a result. Untracked dependencies can also lead to unnecessary bloating of the image, leading to slower download times.

    • Linux dominates supercomputing, the Pentagon’s big open source push, and more

      In this week’s edition of our open source news roundup, we cover the release of Linux kernel 4.14 LTS, Linux powering all 500 of the world’s supercomputers, why banks favor open source software, how the Pentagon is going open source, and how the latest release of Firefox saves your processor.

  • Kernel Space
    • Intel UMIP KVM Support Ejected From Linux 4.15, Will Have To Wait To Linux 4.16

      Linus had pulled in these changes but then decided to unpull it for not enough testing. Linus wrote, “So I pulled it, but then checked, None of this was in linux-next 20171117 either, So I unpulled it.”

    • VirtualBox Guest Drivers Still Working Their Way To The Mainline Linux Kernel

      While the VirtualBox DRM/KMS driver was merged for Linux 4.13 as one step towards improving the out-of-the-box support for Linux guests on Oracle VM VirtualBox, other drivers remain out-of-tree still, but that is slowly changing.

      Red Hat’s Hans de Goede has been working on getting the vboxguest driver merged to mainline Linux as the next step of improving VirtualBox guest integration.

      Sent out on Sunday were the latest patches for vboxguest. This driver supports the Virtual Box Guest PCI device to allow for supporting features like copy-and-paste, the VirtualBox seamless mode, and OpenGL pass-through to work with the host system running this virtualization software.

    • Linux Foundation
      • MuQSS Scheduler Updated For Linux 4.14, Experimental SMT Improvements

        This week Con Kolivas updated his MuQSS scheduler patch-set for the Linux 4.14 kernel. This is the scheduler that was born out of his earlier work on BFS.

        MuQSS has now been around for one year as the “Multiple Queue Skiplist Scheduler” that succeeded his work on BFS, the “Brain Fuck Scheduler”, for years prior. The aim of this scheduler is still about system responsiveness and interactivity with desktop class systems but should work out for most workloads.

    • Graphics Stack
      • Intel Posts FP16 GLSL Patches For Mesa

        Topi Pohjolainen of Intel has been working on adding proper FP16/half-precision support to Mesa’s GLSL code.

      • Marek & Mario Prep 10-bit Color Visual Support For Mesa/Gallium3D

        Building off the work by Mario Kleiner, AMD developer Marek Olšák has been working on 10-bit color visual support within Mesa/Gallium3D.

        Currently housed within Marek’s Git branch are the patches by Mario and him for supporting 10-bit color visuals properly within Mesa and wired through for Gallium3D. With 10-bit color visuals, it’s basically going from 256 luminosity levels per color/channel with 8-bit to 1024 levels. Most graphics cards going back years have supported 10-bit color visuals while the number of monitors supporting 10-bit colors has been much more limited until recently.

      • There’s An ARM Mali Gallium3D Driver Still Being Developed

        Making the rounds this weekend online as a “new” ARM Mali open-source driver is what we wrote about back in June as A New Mali-400 Open-Source Graphics Driver Is In Development.

      • mesa 17.2.6

        In Mesa Core we have included a correction to keep a program alive when re-linking and prevent an use-after-free.

      • Mesa 17.2.6 Released With 53 Changes While Mesa 17.3 Is Around The Corner

        While the release of the belated Mesa 17.3 is imminent, Mesa 17.2.6 is now available as the current latest stable release.

        Andres Gomez of Igalia announced the Mesa 17.2.6 release just minutes ago with more than 50 changes/fixes found in this maintenance update.

      • Freedreno A4xx Picks Up Some More OpenGL 4 Extensions

        When Ilia Mirkin isn’t busy being one of the key contributors to the open-source NVIDIA “Nouveau” driver stack, he’s often working on the Freedreno driver stack for the open-source Qualcomm Adreno support.

    • Benchmarks
      • Which Linux Distribution Boots The Fastest? An 11-Way Linux Comparison

        The distributions used were:

        Antergos 17.11 – This Arch-based Linux distribution currently ships with the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.2 by default, and an EXT4 file-system.

        CentOS 7 – The community flavor of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7. CentOS Linux 7 latest has Linux 3.10, GNOME Shell 3.22, and uses an XFS file-system.

        Clear Linux 19260 – Intel’s performance-optimized Linux distribution presently ships with the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.2, and EXT4.

        Debian 9.2.1 – The latest stable release of Stretch is using the Linux 4.9 kernel and GNOME Shell 3.22.3 atop EXT4.

        Fedora Workstation 27 – Fedora 27 has the Linux 4.13 kernel, GNOME Shell 3.26.1 with Wayland, and EXT4.

        Manjaro 17.0.6 – Some more Arch Linux based action happening. Manjaro 17.0.6 has Linux 4.9, Xfce 4.12, and EXT4.

        Solus 3 – The Solus Linux distribution that continues growing in popularity currently has Linux 4.13, its GNOME-derived Budgie desktop environment, and EXT4 file-system.

        Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS – The current LTS release of Ubuntu Linux with Linux 4.10, Unity 7.4, and EXT4.

        Ubuntu 17.10 – The latest Ubuntu stable release with Linux 4.13, GNOME Shell 3.26.1 atop Wayland, and EXT4.

        openSUSE Leap 42.3 – The current stable release of openSUSE built from SUSE Linux Enterprise sources with the Linux 4.4 kernel, KDE Plasma 5, and XFS file-system.

        openSUSE Tumbleweed – The rolling-release version of openSUSE with the Linux 4.14 kermel, KDE Plasma 5 desktop, and XFS file-system.

      • Cycles Benchmark – AMD update + new benchmark file

        Three weeks ago we posted a benchmark update with Nvidia GPUs. Meanwhile we had AMD sending us a flagship Threadripper system – 32 threads, 64 GB memory, onboard SSD.

        The image below shows the latest numbers, updated from our test lab today. Click on the link under the image for a live website where you can inspect the numbers more closely (and you can turn on/off gpu or cpu tests).

      • Blender Has A Beautiful New Benchmark: Barbershop

        The digital artists working on the Barbershop 3D modeling software have released a new benchmark file for stressing CPUs and GPUs by rendering an advanced scene.

        Barbershop is Blender’s newest benchmark file and is an interior scene making use of branched path tracing. It’s quite a beast to render on a CPU or GPU.

      • Blender 2.79 Performance On Various Intel/AMD CPUs From Ryzen To EPYC

        This weekend I took a variety of systems running Ubuntu Linux and ran tests via the Phoronix Test Suite of Blender 2.79 with the BMW, Classroom, Fishy Cat, Barbershop, and Pabellon Barcelona scenes to see how their performance compares from desktop CPUs to AMD Threadripper and EPYC setups. The CPUs I had available for this quick comparison included the Core i7 6800K, Core i7 8700K, Core i8 7960X, Core i9 7980XE, Xeon Silver 4108, dual Xeon Gold 6138 CPUs on the Intel side. On the AMD side was the Ryzen 7 1700, Ryzen 7 1800X, Threadripper 1950X, and AMD EPYC 7601. All the Blender rendering was done on the CPUs; a fresh GPU comparison will be coming up soon.

  • Applications
  • Desktop Environments/WMs
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK
      • Recommended GNOME Shell Extensions for Ubuntu 17.10

        This is a list of GNOME Shell Extensions (GSE) that are very useful for Ubuntu 17.10 users. Among them are NetSpeed (to show up/down speed), Dash to Panel (to combine all panels into single bottom panel), Datetime Format (to show complete day-date-clock at top panel), even EasyScreenCast (to record your desktop activity to video), and more. They are handy for many user’s daily/repeating tasks, easy to install, and user-friendly to operate. Finally, I hope this recommendation article is useful for you.

      • Builder 3.27 Progress

        We are a couple of months into Builder’s 3.28 development. We have fewer big ticket features scheduled this cycle when compared to 3.26. However that is replaced by a multitude of smaller features and details. Let’s take a look at some of what has been done already.

      • GNOME Builder Development Environment Picking Up Many Features For GNOME 3.28
  • Distributions
    • New Releases
      • NuTyX 9.92 available with cards 2.3.103

        The NuTyX team is please to annonce the 9.92 release of NuTyX.

        NuTyX 9.92 comes with kernel LTS 4.14.2, kernel LTS 4.9.65, glibc 2.26, gcc 7.2.0, binutils 2.29.1, python 3.6.0, xorg-server 1.19.5, qt 5.9.3, KDE plasma 5.11.3, KDE Framework 5.40.0, KDE Applications 17.08.3, gnome 3.24.2, mate 1.18.2, xfce4 4.12.4, firefox 57.0 Quantum, etc…

        If we take in consideration all the GIT projects, we did more then 5000 commits on the development branch since the 9.1 version.

    • Arch Family
    • Red Hat Family
    • Debian Family
      • Debian Policy call for participation — November 2017, pt. 1
      • Derivatives
        • Canonical/Ubuntu
          • Aquaris M10 Ubuntu tablet – With Android

            I am slightly sad that I decided to give up on Ubuntu on this tablet. But it’s also a happy decision, because I have a functional, capable device now, and I can use it to the full range of its specification and abilities. Simple value for money, and there are no sentiments there.

            Now, let’s be reasonable, I’m not gonna be seen gallivanting into the sunset with a tablet in my hand. This will be strictly opportunistic, on-the-go use, 90% experimentation and novelty, 10% real use. Still, when I take into consideration the last four years or my tablet usage, a pattern appears, and it’s a positive one, even though tablets are unnecessary in between smartphones and laptops.

            All that said, BQ Aquaris M10 FHD with Android is a decent device, and it works well. I wish the situation was different with Ubuntu, but it isn’t. On the desktop, it remains one of the more sensible Linux options, but it never had what’s needed to succeed in the brutal touch world. Well, a new hope is born, and we shall see what gives. To be continued.

          • Flavours and Variants
            • LinuxAndUbuntu Review Of Kubuntu 17.10

              As Ubuntu 17.10 had made its way among the users, so had its various flavors. Kubuntu is one of them. Recently launched Kubuntu 17.10 supported for 9 months is available to download in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Most users will actually skip out 17.x series as it’s not LTS and moreover, stability is the main concern. Check out the official release notes and what I experienced on using Kubuntu 17.10 on my PC below.

            • Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Cinnamon and MATE Editions Now Available to Download

              As of November 24, 2017, the final Cinnamon and MATE live ISO images of the Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” operating system have been uploaded to the official mirror for both 64-bit and 32-bit hardware.

              There’s no official announcement published by the Linux Mint team at the moment of writing this article, but it shouldn’t be long until the Linux Mint 18.3 “Sylvia” Cinnamon and MATE editions are published on the project’s website, and you can download the ISO images right now from their main FTP mirror.

              Linux Minx 18.3 “Sylvia” is based on the Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system and uses the Linux 4.10 kernel series by default. While the Cinnamon edition ships with the latest and greatest Cinnamon 3.6 desktop environment, the MATE edition is using the MATE 1.18 desktop.

              This release comes with updated components and refinements, but also a bunch of new features, such as a configurable login screen, new System Reports tool for easier reporting of crashes, a dedicated tool for creating system snapshots called Timeshift, and a completely revamped Backup Tool.

  • Devices/Embedded
Free Software/Open Source
  • Events
    • Audio Recordings Posted For Linux Plumbers Conference 2017

      For those looking for some technical talks to listen to this weekend, audio recordings of the Linux Plumbers Conference 2017 are now available.

      The 2017 Linux Plumbers Conference took place in Los Angeles from 13 to 15 September. Video recordings were not made, but this year they decided to experiment with audio recordings.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice
    • LibreOffice 6.0 Beta Available – Huge Open-Source Office Suite Update For 2018

      Today the branching of LibreOffice 6.0 from Git master took place as well as tagging the first beta.

      LibreOffice 6.0 Beta is currently available in source form as of writing and the code will continue to be refined via the libreoffice-6-0 branch until it’s ready for release in early 2018. The mainline LibreOffice Git code meanwhile is bumped for early work on what’s marked as LibreOffice 6.1.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC
    • GCC Plugins Now Supported On Windows/MinGW

      A late addition for the GCC 8 code compiler is adding support for plug-ins to Windows/MinGW.

      The GNU Compiler Collection for years has supported plug-ins on Linux and other operating systems like macOS while finally there is the Windows/MinGW treatment. GCC plugins are loadable modules allowing for extended functionality via a subset of the GCC API for offering additional optimizations, analysis tools, etc.

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration
    • Open Data
      • Mapping the Future: Cartography Stages a Comeback

        Cartography is the new code. Increasingly, everything from your takeout delivery to your UberPool route is orchestrated not just by engineers but by cartographers. Between 2007 and 2015, the number of grads earning master’s degrees in cartography increased annually by more than 40 percent on average. And as advanced satellites, digital mapping tools, and open-source geographical software progress, the demand for cartographers is projected to grow nearly 30 percent by 2024.

    • Open Hardware/Modding
      • The quest for open science

        Within two minutes of talking to Dr Richard Bowman, in his lab at the University of Bath, he’s guiding me through the physics of tractor beams in Star trek. He’s using it as a simile to explain the complicated subject of optical tweezers to a stupid person.

        He does so in a charming way, as someone familiar with explaining his complex field to journalists, but it’s clear why he’s a Prize Fellow and Royal Commission 1851 Research Fellow – his explanation ends with our imaginary tractor beam melting an object it’s trying to move before Bowman shrinks this entire sci-fi example down to demonstrate how he’s used laser beams in his past work to move tiny objects.

Leftovers
  • Science
  • Hardware
    • Fixing the MacBook Pro

      There’s a lot to like about the new MacBook Pros, but they need some changes to be truly great and up to Apple’s standards.

  • Health/Nutrition
    • Some U.S. Hospitals Don’t Put Americans First for Liver Transplants

      At a time when there aren’t enough livers for ailing Americans, wealthy foreigners fly here for transplants.

      [...]

      Little known to the public, or to sick patients and their families, organs donated domestically are sometimes given to patients flying in from other countries, who often pay a premium. Some hospitals even seek out foreign patients in need of a transplant. A Saudi Arabian company, Ansaq Medical Co., whose stated aim is to “facilitate the procedures and mechanisms of ‘medical tourism,’” said it signed an agreement with Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans in 2015.

    • New York City Launches Committee to Review Maternal Deaths

      Following in the steps of Baltimore and Philadelphia, New York City is establishing a committee to review deaths and severe complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, aiming to reduce their toll on expectant and new mothers in the nation’s largest metropolis.

      There’s ample room for improvement: The city’s maternal mortality rate is thought to be slightly above average for the U.S., which has the highest such rate in the industrialized world. Of the estimated 700 to 900 deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth nationwide each year, New York City accounts for about 30.

      Moreover, the city’s outcomes feature a worsening racial divide. Between 2006 and 2010, black women were 12 times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes, up from seven times more likely between 2001 and 2005.

    • For the next year, TV, newspapers, and the web will run massive ads from tobacco companies admitting that their products kill people, that they were engineered to be addictive, and that they covered this up

      After losing their 19-year court battle with the US Department of Justice, tobacco giants Altria, R.J. Reynolds, Lorillard and Philip Morris USA are now beginning to run their court-ordered “corrective statements” as full-page newspaper ads, major web display ads, and primetime TV spots, containing frank admissions that they violated federal racketeering and fraud laws when they conspired to cover up the fact that their products killed their customers and that they intentionally designed their products to be as addictive as possible.

  • Security
    • Name+DOB+SSN=FAFSA Data Gold Mine

      KrebsOnSecurity has sought to call attention to online services which expose sensitive consumer data if the user knows a handful of static details about a person that are broadly for sale in the cybercrime underground, such as name, date of birth, and Social Security Number. Perhaps the most eye-opening example of this is on display at fafsa.ed.gov, the Web site set up by the U.S. Department of Education for anyone interested in applying for federal student financial aid.

    • Uber Hacks and Bitcoin Futures

      What is Uber? Why is it a $70-billion-or-whatever company? You could tell a bunch of stories — it is an app company, a taxi company, a driverless-car company — but one possibility is that it is a regulatory-evasion company. Local regulations around the world entrenched taxi companies and allowed them to capture excess value, and Uber’s central innovation was not building an app or developing a surge-pricing algorithm but simply saying “what if we took that value instead?” In 2017 it spends a lot of time lobbying and buttering up local governments so that they don’t ban it, but earlier on the process was simpler: It would just ignore the local regulations and hope no one would stop it. That worked really well! Not flawlessly, not permanently, not at scale — that’s why it has now pivoted to lobbying and buttering-up — but well enough to get Uber to this point, the point where its lobbying and buttering-up can work.

    • Segwit2x Bugs Explained

      The Segwit2x hard fork was called off a little over a week ago in an email post to the 2x mailing list. Several parties threatened to split the network anyway, and we eagerly waited for block 494784 to see whether someone would mine the 2x hard fork or not.

      As it turns out, there was a bug in the Segwit2x software which caused the client to stop at block 494782. In this article, I’m going to examine the details of what caused the software to stop, why it stopped a block before it was supposed to and what would have happened had Belshe, et al, not cancelled the hard fork a week early.

    • Firefox to warn users who visit p0wned sites

      Mozilla developer Nihanth Subramanya has revealed the organisation’s Firefox browser will soon warn users if they visit sites that have experienced data breaches that led to user credential leaks.

      A recently-released GitHub repo titled “Breach Alerts Prototype” revealed “a vehicle for prototyping basic UI and interaction flow for an upcoming feature in Firefox that notifies users when their credentials have possibly been leaked or stolen in a data breach.”

    • [Imgur] NOTICE OF DATA BREACH

      On November 23, Imgur was notified of a potential security breach that occurred in 2014 that affected the email addresses and passwords of 1.7 million user accounts. While we are still actively investigating the intrusion, we wanted to inform you as quickly as possible as to what we know and what we are doing in response.

    • Spam was nearly dead, then it became an essential tool for crime and came roaring back
    • Spam is back [iophk: "Microsoft Windows botnets"]
    • Reproducible Builds: Weekly report #134
    • Young “Daeshgram” Hackers Flood Official ISIS Propaganda Channels With Porn
  • Defence/Aggression
    • U.S. moves toward open-ended presence in Syria after Islamic State is routed

      The Trump administration is expanding its goals in Syria beyond routing the Islamic State to include a political settlement of the country’s civil war, a daunting and potentially open-ended commitment that could draw the United States into conflict with both Syria and Iran.

      With forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now bearing down on the last militant-controlled towns, the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria could be imminent — along with an end to the U.S. justification for being there.

    • The Duty to Disobey a Nuclear Launch Order

      On November 19, Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command, declared he would refuse to follow an illegal presidential order to launch a nuclear attack. “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail,” the general explained at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia. “You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”

      Gen. Hyten is correct. For those in the military, there is a legal duty to obey a lawful order, but also a legal duty to disobey an unlawful order. An order to use nuclear weapons — except possibly in an extreme circumstance of self-defense when the survival of the nation is at stake — would be an unlawful order.

    • DoD, military donors aid Democrats

      Department of Defense employees have given a greater percentage of their donations to Democrats so far this election cycle than they did under any Republican administration since at least George H.W. Bush’s presidency.

      CRP’s political donation data covers each year beginning in 1989 — the first year of the elder Bush’s presidency — and comes from FEC filings, which include a donor’s self-identified occupation and employer.

      From January through September, DoD employees donated about $127,000 to political candidates. About 65 percent of the contributions, or roughly $83,000, went to Democrats. Republicans received about $43,000, or 34 percent. The remaining went to third-party candidates.

    • The Quality of Mercy

      As I watched in 1999, Layla stood before her class to ask two renowned peacemakers what difference there was between her and a sixteen-year-old living in a more secure part of the world. The answer, in terms of her basic human rights and her irreplaceable human value, should be manifestly clear: there is no difference whatsoever. And yet, while U.S. warlords and military contractors collude with their counterparts in other lands, they earn former president Dwight Eisenhower’s blistering evaluation. This world in arms “is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children.” Among the most vulnerable children sacrificed are those forced into poverty by military blockade and military occupation, who steel themselves as the bombs tear through their towns and their neighborhoods and their neighbors, through their traumatized memories, and through their prospective futures when they dare to hope for one.

      The comfortable nations often authorize the worst atrocities overseas through fear for their own safety, imagining themselves the victims to be protected from crime at all costs. Such attitudes entitle people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen to look in our direction when they ask, “Who are the criminals?” They will be looking at us when they ask that, until we at last exert our historically unprecedented economic and political ability to turn our imperial nations away from ruinous war, and earn our talk of mercy.

    • The Myth of the “Clean War”

      Many previous columns in this series focus on the transition in the western way of war since 9/11 from tens of thousands of “boots on the ground” to “remote warfare”. This has mainly involved a much more intensive use of air-power, including armed-drones; the utilisation of long-range artillery and ground-launched ballistic-missiles; and the much wider use of special forces and privatised military corporations.

      The change has been consistently analysed by a few non-government organisations, most notably the Remote Control project and Drone Wars UK, whose specific concern is armed drones.

    • White House Statement on Yemen Crisis Fails to Address US Complicity

      As aid groups remain cut off from Yemen—despite an intensifying humanitarian crisis and a promise from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to lift the blockade—in a statement released Friday, the Trump White House ignored the United States’ complicity in the Saudi-led coalition’s blockade while reiterating U.S. support for the coalition in the ongoing war.

      The statement praised Saudi Arabia and the coalition for “reopening Hudaydah port and Sanaa International Airport to allow the urgent flow of humanitarian aid to the people of Yemen”—even though, as the Guardian reported Friday, “aid agencies said Saudi Arabia has not fulfilled its promise to reopen humanitarian aid corridors into northern Yemen, leaving the main aid lifeline closed for tens of thousands of starving people.”

      Although the White House statement declared “the magnitude of suffering in Yemen requires all parties to this conflict to focus on assistance to those in need,” it also said, “We remain committed to supporting Saudi Arabia and all of our Gulf partners against the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ aggression.”

    • US and South Korea Announce Plans for Massive Air Force Exercise Aimed at North Korea

      The U.S. and South Korea announced Friday they will conduct a massive air force exercise over the Korean Peninsula next month as a notable show of force targeting North Korea—despite warnings that the Trump administration’s decision earlier this week to add North Korea to the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism could further provoke the isolated country.

    • Zimbabwe activists fear post-Mugabe human rights crackdown

      Activists and human rights campaigners in Zimbabwe fear a new crackdown that could roll back gains made during the eight-day crisis that culminated in the resignation of President Robert Mugabe last week.

      Relatives of victims of state-sponsored violence said they were concerned about the track record of the new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was Mugabe’s righthand man and is blamed for the brutal suppression of political opposition parties during elections in 2008.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting
    • Barrett Brown Explains His Pursuance Project and Why It’s Worth a Shot

      That’s the kind of activism the convicted activist journalist Barrett Brown wants to organize online, as the Daily Dot reported in August. Last night, he spoke to supporters of what he calls the Pursuance Project over YouTube, answering questions about his open source software project.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature
    • A Radioactive Plume That’s Clouded in Secrecy

      And the release of ruthenium 106 is a massive one, indicating a major accident, not a minor leak. The French radiological institute for nuclear safety IRSN) calculated the release at 300 Terrabequerels. To put this in perspective, it is an amount equivalent to 375,000 times the annual release of ruthenium 106 authorized for a French nuclear power plant.

      IRSN has consistently downplayed the potential harm of the plume’s fallout across Europe, a position all too eerily familiar to the French, who were falsely told at the time of the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine that the radioactive plume would not cross into France.

    • Native People and Allies Pledge to Stop Keystone XL

      I’m in Lower Brule, South Dakota, where elected tribal officials, spiritual leaders, Native grassroots organizations, youth groups, and traditional women’s societies have gathered with non-Native farmers, ranchers and others affected by the Keystone XL pipeline. That project to carry tar sands from shale fields in Canada to the Gulf of Mexico threatens our water, our livelihoods and our sacred sites.

    • Lightning strikes leave behind a radioactive cloud

      Thunderstorms have a lot of overt indications of power, from the thunder and lightning to torrential rains and hail. But the full extent of their power wasn’t obvious until recent years, when we discovered they generate antimatter. Now, researchers in Japan have looked at this phenomenon more closely and determined that a lightning bolt generates a zone that contains unstable isotopes of oxygen and nitrogen, leading to series of radioactive decays over the next minute.

    • The trouble with bitcoin and big data is the huge energy bill

      Once upon a time, a very long time ago – 2009 in fact – there was a brief but interesting controversy about the carbon footprint of a Google search. It was kicked off by a newspaper story reporting a “calculation” of mysterious origin that suggested a single Google search generated 7 grams of CO2, which is about half of the carbon footprint of boiling a kettle. Irked by this, Google responded with a blogpost saying that this estimate was much too high. “In terms of greenhouse gases,” the company said, “one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. The current EU standard for tailpipe [exhaust] emissions calls for 140 grams of CO2 per kilometre driven, but most cars don’t reach that level yet. Thus, the average car driven for one kilometre (0.6 miles for those in the US) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.”

      Every service that Google provides is provided via its huge data centres, which consume vast amounts of electricity to power and cool the servers, and are therefore responsible for the emission of significant amounts of CO2. Since the advent of the modern smartphone in about 2007 our reliance on distant data centres has become total, because everything we do on our phones involves an interaction with the “cloud” and therefore has a carbon footprint.

      The size of this footprint has been growing. At the moment, about 7% of the world’s electricity consumption is taken by our digital ecosystem but this is forecast to rise to 12% by 2020 and is expected to grow annually at about 7% through to 2030.

    • A year after Trump’s election, coal’s future remains bleak

      A year after Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry, the sector’s long-term prospects for growth and hiring remain as bleak as ever.

    • Climate Summit’s Solution to Global Warming: More Talking

      The world’s governments got together in Germany over the past two weeks to discuss global warming, and as a result, they, well, talked. And issued some nice press releases.

      Discussing an existential threat to the environment, and all who are dependent on it, certainly is better than not discussing it. Agreeing to do something about it is also good, as is reiterating that something will be done.

      None of the above, however, should be confused with implementing, and mandating, measures that would reverse global warming and begin to deal concretely with the wrenching changes necessary to avoid flooded cities, a climate going out of control, mass species die-offs and the other rather serious problems that have only begun to manifest themselves in an already warming world.

    • ‘Modern air is a little too clean’: the rise of air pollution denial

      Despite report after report linking air pollution to deterioration of the lungs, heart and brain, Professor Robert Phalen believes the air is “too clean” for children.

      After all, everybody needs a bit of immune-system-boosting dirt in their lungs.

      “Modern air is a little too clean for optimum health,” he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the world’s largest scientific societies, in 2012.

      “My most important role in science is causing trouble and controversy,” he added.

    • Fukushima Darkness, Part Two

      The impact of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear meltdown extends far and wide, as the hemispheric ecosystem gets hit by tons of radioactive water. Additionally, surreptitiousness surrounds untold death and illness, yet it remains one of the least understood and deceitfully reported episodes of journalism in modern history.

      At the same time as Japan passed its totalitarian secrecy act in December 2013, it passed an obstructive Cancer Registration Law, which made it illegal to share medical data or information on radiation-related issues, denying public access to medical records, with violators subject to fines of two million Yen or 5-10 years in prison, a pretty stiff penalty for peeking into medical records, giving the appearance of somebody running scared.

      Furthermore, and more egregiously yet, a confidentiality agreement to control medical information about radiation exposure was signed in January 2014 by IAEA, UNSCEAR, and Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Medical University. Thereafter, all info of illness from radiation is reported to a central repository run by Fukushima Medical Centre and IAEA. In turn, the Fukushima Centre for Environmental Creation was created in 2015 to communicate “accurate information on radiation to the public and dispel anxiety.” Ahem!

    • Blocked From Discussing Climate Change, Valve-Turner Faces 10 Years in Prison After Felony Conviction

      After a judge refused to allow him to share his reasons for shutting off a tar sands pipeline valve in a protest of fossil fuel mining, 65-year-old climate activist Leonard Higgins was found guilty of criminal mischief—a felony—and misdemeanor criminal trespass. Higgins faces up to 10 years in jail and as much as $50,000 in fines.

      “I’m happy for the opportunity to share why I had to shut down this pipeline, and I really appreciate the time and dedication of the jury and the judge,” Higgins said. “I was disappointed and surprised by the verdict, but even more disappointed that I was not allowed a ‘necessity defense,’ and that I wasn’t allowed to talk about climate change as it related to my state of mind. When I tried to talk about why I did what I did I was silenced. I’m looking forward to an appeal.”

    • Averting the apocalypse: lessons from Costa Rica

      Earlier this summer, a paper published in the journal Nature captured headlines with a rather bleak forecast. Our chances of keeping global warming below the 2C danger threshold are very, very small: only about 5%. The reason, according to the paper’s authors, is that the cuts we’re making to greenhouse gas emissions are being cancelled out by economic growth.

    • In Puerto Rico, the ‘natural disaster’ is the US government

      The wreckage of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma teaches us that there is no such thing as a “natural disaster.” This trope drives the federal response to environmental traumas under the Stafford Act, which allows the U.S. president to direct funds to any “state,” including Puerto Rico, when it is felled by events such as hurricanes.

      The failures of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), show the illusions of the “disaster” story: It characterizes environmental traumas as short-term, one-size-fits-all catastrophes that are nobody’s fault. It also positions the federal government as a savior of victims, who should be thankful for U.S. aid that is given a matter of largesse. For this reason, President Trump could make the now-infamous complaint that “they” “want everything done for them” via Twitter on Sept. 30, and on Nov. 17 request that Congress provide only $44 billion in aid, a number that Senator Patrick Leahy (D, Vt) describes as “insulting,” especially for Puerto Rico.

    • A reflection on COP23: Incremental progress but no industrialized country’s top priority (commentary)

      I remember well the vibrancy that December evening in 2015 when word spread on the last day of the 21st UN climate summit that there would be an agreement — the Paris Agreement.

      After two decades of staring at a known and worsening global crisis of epic proportions, leaders of 196 nations, pushed mercilessly by UN, French, and US negotiators, finally decided to not allow the earth to burn up by 2100. The Eiffel Tower glowed with triumphant messages against a starry Paris sky.

      For the first time, nations voluntarily agreed to reduce their carbon emissions and slow the rate of deforestation. That moment in Paris felt historic, hopeful, perhaps the most significant agreement among world leaders for the greater good of this earth since World War II.

      Just two years later, as I stayed late on the last night of the 23rd UN climate summit in Bonn, Germany, I felt no such vibrancy and certainly no such history-making optimism. There was little. COP23 wasn’t designed for major breakthroughs. Everyone conceded that.

  • Finance
    • Nature lovers may #OptOutside on Black Friday, but they consume resources year-round

      While shoppers scramble for Black Friday bargains this year, outdoor retailer REI is closing its 154 U.S. stores. This is the third consecutive year that the Seattle-based company will ignore the frenzy that traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. REI’s nearly 12,000 employees will get a paid holiday and will not process any online orders.

      Instead, REI exhorts workers and customers to get outside with family and friends. #OptOutside, a Twitter hashtag that REI coined to promote its anti-Black Friday, has been widely adopted by outdoor lovers, as well as environmental groups and businesses that partner with REI to promote this event.

    • Fools or Knaves?

      Mnuchin continues to insist that the legislation puts a higher tax burden on people earning more than $1 million a year, and reduce taxes on everyone else. “I can tell you that virtually everybody in the middle class will get a tax cut, and will get a significant tax cut,” Mnuchin says repeatedly.

      But the prestigious Tax Policy Center concludes that by 2025, almost all of the benefits of both bills will have gone to the richest 1 percent, while upper-middle-class payers will pay higher taxes and those at the lower levels will receive only modest benefits.

      So is Mnuchin a fool? His career before he became Treasury Secretary doesn’t suggest so. He graduated from Yale, and worked for seventeen years for investment bank Goldman Sachs.

    • How to Stop a Tax Plan Rigged for the Rich

      The Earth doesn’t quite shake when lawmakers in Washington, D.C. take one of their periodic votes on tax “reform.” But sometimes history does turn, and this coming week’s expected vote on the Senate version of the GOP tax plan could be one of those rare times that history actually turns for the better.

      Indeed, this year’s situation bears a remarkable resemblance to the epic tax battle of 1932, a largely forgotten struggle that set the stage for an entire generation of increasing equality. Could this history repeat? It certainly is already echoing.

      Back in 1932, just as today, the Republican Party had a lockgrip on the White House and both houses of Congress. Then as now, America’s wealthy lusted for fundamental tax changes that would significantly reduce their already reduced tax burden. Then as now, those wealthy — and the pols they subsidized — framed tax breaks for the rich as our only road to prosperity.

    • Showdown Looms as Trump, Flouting Dodd-Frank, Says CFPB Hater Mulvaney to Head Agency

      A battle appears to be brewing between the White House and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), with each having named a different individual to serve as acting director of the agency, and President Donald Trump’s appointment denounced as “legally dubious.”

      The showdown gained steam on Friday afternoon when Richard Cordray, who had been leading the CFPB since its inception, tendered his expected resignation, saying he was leaving at the end of the day. Another key event that day was the CFPB naming Leandra English as deputy director of the agency. She had been serving as the agency’s chief of staff.

    • Dozens of #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins and Rallies Planned for Final Resistance Push

      The grassroots resistance group Indivisible was gearing up on Friday for a planned National Day of Action, targeting Republican senators who are thought to be potential “no” votes on the GOP’s tax plan—in a final push to keep the bill from passing. The Senate is expected to vote on the plan as soon as Thursday.

      The group was preparing for #TrumpTaxScam Sit-Ins taking place across the country on Monday, at the offices of several senators including Arizona’s John McCain and Jeff Flake, Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Susan Collins (R-Maine)—focusing attention on some of the lawmakers who were targeted last summer during the fight against the Republican healthcare plan.

      “Republicans have made it crystal clear: the Trump Tax Scam fight and the TrumpCare fight are one and the same,” the group wrote on its website, noting the Senate Finance Committee’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which was revealed earlier this month. The move would leave 13 million Americans uninsured according to the Congressional Budget Office—in the interest of reducing the federal deficit that would be caused by the Republican plan to lower taxes for corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

    • Legatum: who are the Brexiteers’ favourite think tank and who is behind them?

      It’s arguably the most influential think tank in the country, pushing a free market pro-Brexit vision and enjoying privileged access to media and ministers. But what does their background in ‘disaster capitalism’ tell us about Legatum’s Brexit agenda?

    • Your Taxpayer Dollars Are Funding Corporate Propaganda

      While Congress hasn’t accomplished much in 2017, it did manage to pass a budget resolution — and within that budget, a sum of $3 million stands out.

      Congress appropriated that $3 million to fund the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. That’s a partnership between the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) “to provide consumer education on agricultural biotechnology and food and animal feed ingredients derived from biotechnology.”

      What they’re really talking about is a promotional campaign for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

    • The Paul Ryan Guide to Pretending You Care About the Poor

      Once, at a town hall in Wisconsin, someone asked known anti-poverty crusader Paul Ryan (R-WI) the following question:

      “I know that you’re Catholic, as am I, and it seems to me that most of the Republicans in the Congress are not willing to stand with the poor and working class as evidenced in the recent debates about health care and the anticipated tax reform. So I’d like to ask you how you see yourself upholding the church’s social teaching that has the idea that God is always on the side of the poor and dispossessed, as should we be.”

    • Slaves and Bulldozers, Plutocrats and Widgets

      We are living a collective illusion known as the civilized world. We feign concern for our horrendous conditions of poverty, socioeconomic inequality, deteriorating public health, and severe environmental degradation (to which climate change is merely one factor), but everything we do belies that distress. These issues comprise the largest risks to the survival of the human species, as well as the most significant amoral atrocities on the planet. Both individually and as a species, our health, safety, and ability to live a decent, dignified life have always been imperiled by these predicaments. Yet, we continue along with complete cognitive dissonance in that the crux of our lives – our jobs, our consumer culture – all contribute to, perpetuate, and exacerbate the unsustainable and morally reprehensible conditions of our existence. But while we are all marginally responsible for the multitude of calamities befalling us, the one group who bears the brunt of the blame for our social and ecological decay is the wealthy.

      Have you looked around and seen just what humanity has done to our stunning Earth? We’ve bulldozed the beauty for bucks. Far too much of what was once a glorious paradise is now a complete disaster of unfathomable proportions. A disaster wholly of our own making. In America, and in most places around the world, from the moment we are born we are preparing for a future career, and more specifically, for the lifelong goal of making money. But on the whole, most of the jobs we do end up being more detrimental than beneficial to society and the environment. We characterize work through measures of productivity, but producing more and more unnecessary, meaningless, and often useless products compromises our physical environment, which in turn, compromises the health of humans, other beings, and our entire planetary ecosystem.

    • Jeff Bezos’ Net Worth Crosses $100 Billion

      As a result of the jump in Amazon’s shares by more 2 percent due to Black Friday sales, founder Jeff Bezos’ net worth has crossed the magical $100 billion mark–that’s 100,000,000,000 dollars!

      Bezos, 53, is the first billionaire to reach this mark since 1999. Back then, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates hit this mark, according to Bloomberg. This year itself, worth of Bezos has risen $32.6 billion. As per Bloomberg’s Index of world’s richest 500 people, this is the largest ever increase for an individual.

    • Why are we leaving the customs union again?

      Liam Fox made a very interesting admission this morning. In an interview with The House magazine, the international trade secretary seemed to put the blame for our sluggish exports on British companies rather than the suffocating restrictions of the EU.

      “From Britain’s point of view, our main advantage doesn’t lie in getting more trade deals, it lies in getting more trade,” he said. “So, we need to do an awful lot better with the markets that we already have access to globally.”

      He’s right of course. The EU has never been a barrier to ‘global Britain’ or its ability to export all over the world. In 2013, Britain’s exports to China were worth £7.6bn, whereas France’s were worth £14.3bn and Germany’s £55bn. But Fox’s admission that trade deals aren’t what’s required to boost British exports is rather surprising, given this is the whole reason we’re leaving the customs union.

      Perhaps he saw yesterday’s comments from YK Sinha, India’s high commissioner to the UK, which made it clear that free movement of people would be a central requirement of any UK-Indian trade deal. This has long been the country’s position.

    • ‘I thought I’d put in a protest vote’: the people who regret voting leave

      On the morning of 23 June 2016, Rosamund Shaw still wasn’t sure if she wanted Britain to leave the European Union. During the preceding weeks, she had been in turmoil. She absorbed a stream of negative stories about the EU in the Daily Mail, but wasn’t sure they were reliable. She trusted Boris Johnson, but loathed Michael Gove. Her family was divided. One daughter, who worked abroad, was a staunch remainer; the other an adamant leaver. Upending the usual age dynamic, her younger relatives complained of eastern European migrants costing them work, while her mother, who had lived through the second world war, felt that the EU had guaranteed peace in Europe. In the voting booth, Shaw finally made her choice: she voted leave. “To be quite frank, I did not believe it would happen,” she says. “I thought I’d put in a protest vote. The impact of my stupidity!”

      As soon as Shaw saw the result the following morning, her heart sank. “I was in shock,” she remembers. “Even though I voted leave, I thought, ‘Oh no! This is terrible!’ Then all hell broke loose. The texts started flying. There was a massive fight on Facebook.”

      [...]

      For experts in voter behaviour or cognitive science, however, this is unsurprising. Humans do not instinctively enjoy changing their minds. Admitting that you were wrong, especially when the original decision has huge ramifications, is a painful and destabilising experience that the brain tends to resist. Research into this kind of denial has given us concepts such as cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias.

      “When you have a strong view about something, you’re likely to reject information that’s contrary to your view, reject the source of the information and rationalise the information,” says Jane Green, professor of political science at the University of Manchester and co-director of the British Election Study. “We select information that’s consistent with our views, because it’s more comfortable and reaffirming.” In fact, it’s physically pleasurable. Some recent studies of confirmation bias indicate that consuming information that supports our beliefs actually produces a dopamine rush.

    • Everything Must Go

      Economic growth will destroy everything. There’s no way of greening it – we need a new system.

    • Confusion as Trump and outgoing director pick leaders for consumer agency

      But hours before, CFPB Director Richard Cordray had sent a letter to Trump, declaring he was officially done leading the federal consumer watchdog agency once the clock struck midnight.

      Cordray named his chief of staff, Leandra English, as deputy director, which essentially establishes her as the bureau’s acting director.
      The departure of Cordray, the first-ever director of the consumer agency, marks an opening for Trump to embark on a major overhaul of the agency.

      There had been speculation that Trump would tap a member of his administration to lead the bureau.

    • Hammond backtracked on funding after ‘fury’ at NHS boss’s demands

      The chancellor viewed Stevens’s plea, in which he urged ministers to deliver on leave campaigners’ promise of £350m a week more for the NHS, as “very, very unhelpful” when he was facing so many pleas from other services for cash.

      At the time of Stevens’s speech on 8 November, Hammond had already begun discussions with the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over his formal pre-budget request that the NHS in England be given a £3bn uplift for 2018-19.

    • Think Brexit negotiations are going badly? It’s about to get a whole lot worse

      If you have been following politics of late, it will not have escaped your notice that progress in the Brexit negotiations has been painfully slow. Eight months on from the triggering of Article 50, Britain has managed to stumble over every imaginable hurdle. It has been like watching a car crash in slow motion.

      Britain is desperate to move on from simply discussing exit terms—it wants talks on the future trading relationship. But the EU has maintained that it will not move in this direction until the UK offers some clarity on EU citizens’ rights, the Irish border (a nightmarishly complex issue), and the Brexit “divorce bill” to settle the UK’s financial obligations.

      Until recently, there had been no progress on the UK side whatsoever. But now, after months of huffing and puffing, it looks like the UK may be about to make the much-needed breakthrough. On the divorce bill, at least, there have been more positive noises coming from No 10, with Theresa May doubling her offer from £20bn to £40bn. There is a chance, if things move further still, that the EU will decide “sufficient progress” has been made at its December summit and that talks on the future relationship can begin.

      Great news, you might think. You’d be wrong. The problem with entering phase two of Brexit talks is that Britain has no idea what it wants out of a future trading relationship. The prime minister doesn’t know what she wants, cabinet doesn’t know what it wants, parliament doesn’t know what it wants and the public don’t know what they want. If you thought phase one was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    • The European Left in times of crises: lessons from Greece

      The prospect of government did not generate or impose novel thinking, practices, or behaviours within the Greek left.

    • Puerto Rico: Ruined Infrastructure and a Refugee Crisis

      Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico in September-October 2017. The impact of these storms was great, but greater still are the convulsions on the island long after the storms had passed over. Puerto Rico’s infrastructure remains in tatters, with the power grid still largely dysfunctional and basic institutions such as schools and hospitals on life support. Not surprisingly, large numbers of Puerto Ricans—who are citizens of the United States—have moved to the mainland. The Centre for Puerto Rican Studies (Hunter College, New York) estimates that of a population of 3.5 million, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans will make this journey. Already, 1,30,000 Puerto Ricans have arrived in Florida since October.

      Towns and States in the mainland U.S. that are already home to Puerto Ricans have welcomed thousands more since the storms of this year. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, for instance, hundreds of Puerto Ricans have already arrived to join their families. There is little indication that these people will return to the island. Betty Medina Lichtenstein of Enlace de Familias says that it is the elderly who are likely to return, while the younger families seem to want to stay on.

    • Putin’s link to Boris and Gove’s Brexit ‘coup’ revealed: Tycoon who netted millions from Russian gas deal funds think tank that helped write the ministers letter demanding May take a tougher stance on leaving the EU
    • The hard-won kinship between Britain and Ireland is threatened by Brexit idiocy

      When people are screwing up, they tend to take their rage and frustration out on their nearest and dearest. If, as seems increasingly likely, the European Union summit on 15 December does not give the go-ahead for talks on a post-Brexit trade deal, we already know who’s going to get the blame.

      It will be all Ireland’s fault. The Sun this month gave the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, fair warning, advising him to “shut your gob and grow up” and stop “disrespecting 17.4 million voters of a country whose billions stopped Ireland going bust as recently as 2010”. Boris Johnson, in Dublin, delivered a slightly more diplomatic version of the same message. The Irish should stop worrying about a hard border being reimposed on their island, trust all the lovely reassurances they have received from the British government and make the necessary declaration that “sufficient progress” has been made on the issue for substantive talks to go ahead.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics
    • How Trump is slowly destroying America’s national security agencies

      The Guardian has reported that John Le Carre, the famed British spy novelist, recently said of the Trump presidency: “something truly, seriously bad is happening and we have to be awake to that.” Chillingly, he expressed alarm about the “toxic” parallels between the rise of President Trump and hard right regimes in Poland and Hungary and the rise of fascism in the 1930s.

      Mr Le Carre may be overstating the risk of rising fascism but he is surely right to warn that many of Mr Trump’s early actions and words challenge fundamental tenets of democracy.

      These challenges include his assertion that the media is “the enemy of the people”, that news he doesn’t like is “fake news,” that there were “good people” among the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville, and that the Senate should change its rules to abolish the requirement for 60 votes to end a filibuster, thus eliminating the single most important protection of minority interests in our system of government.

    • The Mueller probe has already claimed its first K Street casualty: Tony Podesta.

      It is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III whose work seems to be sending shock waves through the capital, by exposing the lucrative work lobbyists from both parties engage in on behalf of foreign interests.

      The Mueller probe has already claimed its first K Street casualty: Tony Podesta. His lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, a Washington icon of power and political influence, notified its employees recently that the enterprise is shutting its doors.

    • Trump tweets he ‘took a pass’ at being named TIME’s person of the year

      The magazine issued a statement disputing the President’s account.

      “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year. TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6,” a spokeswoman told CNN.

      [...]

      Trump has long been obsessed with being on the cover of TIME and other news magazines, even making fake covers to hang in some of his properties.

      Last summer, TIME asked for the fake magazines to be removed after reports surfaced that at least five of Trump’s golf clubs featured the fakes bearing his photo.

    • Labour can take Tory ‘crown jewel’ councils next year, says Sadiq Khan

      Sadiq Khan expects Labour to wrest control of long-held Conservative councils in the capital in next year’s local elections, pledging that there is “no corner of London where Labour can’t win”.

      The mayor of London will say his party’s aim is to capture the Tory “crown jewels” of Wandsworth – known for its historically low council tax – and Barnet, once dubbed “Easycouncil” for its mass outsourcing of services.

      In a speech at London Labour’s conference on Saturday, Khan will say he will make Brexit the cornerstone of the campaign, as well as air quality, police cuts and affordable housing.

    • The movement to replace neoliberalism is on the ascendency – where should it go next?

      This is because neoliberalism – the broad set of political-economic ideas and policies which have dominated public life over the last 40 years – has failed, in both theory and in practice. It is in the wake of the global financial crisis that these failures have plumbed new depths. Financial instability looms over economies shackled by insufficient investment. Living standards stagnate and work becomes ever more insecure, shattering the implicit bargain of the entire endeavour. The human costs of this experiment have been enormous, with psychological and non-communicable ill-health becoming the hallmark of a system that cares for little but profit. Inequality, itself linked to ill-health, has grown to levels unseen since the nineteenth century, leading to large power imbalances throughout society. Socio-economic mobility has been further stalled by the erosion of the public realm, from universities to the legal system. Most pressingly, neoliberalism continues to rely on a growth model that is destroying the biophysical preconditions upon which it relies, increasing the chance of collapse in the climate and other natural systems.

    • The Influence of Israel on Britain

      Ms Patel admitted her actions “fell below the high standards expected of a secretary of state” which was certainly the case, because she told lies; but her low standard expeditions appear to have involved some intriguing antics. It was reported that in August she went on “a secret trip to Israel with a lobbyist, during which she held 12 meetings, including one with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, without informing either [Prime Minister] May or Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary.” It is amazing that she could have imagined that British intelligence services would not report her movements and meetings in the daily brief, but this did not stop her telling the Guardian newspaper that “Boris knew about the visit. The point is that the Foreign Office did know about this, Boris knew about [the visit to Israel]. It is not on, it is not on at all. I went out there, I paid for it, and there is nothing else to this. It is quite extraordinary. It is for the Foreign Office to go away and explain themselves.”

      But it wasn’t the Foreign Office that had to explain things, because this was yet another squalid deception by a grubby little politician — for whatever reason she may have had to try to disguise her motives. Her assertion that “I went on holiday and met with people and organisations . . . It is not about who else I met, I have friends out there,” didn’t ring true, and the media discovered a whole raft of deceit.

      Not only did she have a dozen meetings with “friends” in Israel, but, as revealed by the Sun newspaper, “on September 7, Ms Patel met Israeli Minister for Public Security Gilad Erdan for talks in the House of Commons. Then, on September 18, she met Israel’s Foreign Ministry boss Yuval Rotem while in New York at the UN General Assembly. Ms Patel would not last night [November 6] disclose what the meetings were about. She had seen both men in Tel Aviv in August . . .”

      She was accompanied on her Middle Eastern holiday by an agent of influence of Israel, Lord Polak, who attended all her meetings with Israel’s best and brightest, including Prime Minister Netanyahu. And Polak went with her to New York, with his flight being paid for by the Israeli consulting firm ISHRA, which “offers a wide range of client services.” Polak was also present when she had undisclosed discussions with the Israeli Minister for Public Security in the House of Commons before she went to New York.

    • National Democratic Party – Pole Vaulting Back into Place

      Seeking to capitalize on the Republicans’ disarray, public cruelty and Trumpitis, the Democratic Party is gearing up for the Congressional elections of 2018. Alas, party leaders are likely to enlist the same old cast and crew.

      The Democratic National Committee and their state imitators are raising money from the same old big donors and PACs that are complicit in the Party’s chronic history of losing so many Congressional, gubernatorial and state legislative races—not to mention the White House.

      The large, embattled unions are preparing to spend millions on television ads and unimaginative get-out-the-vote efforts, without demanding fresh pro-worker/pro-union agendas from the Democratic politicians they regularly endorse.

    • Bridging the Gap Between Movements and Elections: How the Working Families Party Organized in 2017

      Today we bring you a conversation with Joe Dinkin, the national campaigns and communications director at the Working Families Party. Dinkin discusses how the Working Families Party bridges the gap between the energy of social movements and the machinations of politics.

    • What It’s Like Covering Trump

      Remember that time Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz emailed, “Watch your back, bitch”?

      Or that time when Don Jr. and Ivanka were almost charged with felony fraud?

      You remember that because we found out.

      The day President Trump took office, our reporters laid out the topics they were going to cover.

      Now, a year after the election, we’ve asked five of our reporters to tell us about the stories they’ve done and what has stuck out.

    • Racism and Avarice: Thanksgiving in Trump’s Dystopia

      If the president has his way, they will be returned to a country ravaged by almost a million cases of cholera, a country not nearly ready to take them back, a country that sees more than a full quarter of its gross domestic product come from personal donations given by Haitians in the US. Many will have nowhere to go once they arrive. Here, they have jobs, lives and children, and contribute to society.

      [...]

      Rank racism and towering avarice are on the menu this Thanksgiving. Fifty-nine thousand good people now suffer the terror of threatened displacement, with millions more standing on the cusp of ruin in service to a powerful few. There is nothing new here. All the Thanksgiving apocrypha in the world cannot obscure the genocide, slavery and greed that clang across 10 generations of brutality in pursuit of profit. This is the truth that lies beneath the veneer of holiday. Wealth must be extracted; this is all ye know and all ye need know.

    • NYT’s Obit for Ed Herman Requires a Correction

      The problem with this statement is that Manufacturing Consent was published in 1988—years before the 1994 Rwandan genocide or the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

      The book does deal at length with the Cambodian mass murders. It cites as the best analysis of Cambodian losses before, during and after Khmer Rouge rule the work of historian Michael Vickery, who estimated that the Khmer Rouge executed some 200,000 to 300,000 people, with a total of about 750,000 excess deaths (out of a population of about 7 million) due to killings, famine and disease, during their three-year reign. Vickery found that a lesser but comparable figure, about half a million, were killed in the US bombing of Cambodia beginning in 1969 and the concurrent Cambodian civil war.

    • Matt Taibbi’s Slip Shows Beneath Praise for Ed Herman

      See what I mean? Am I the only one to see supreme irony in the fact that Taibbi would credit Herman with unmasking key historical WHOPPERS, but the fact that he was a “skeptic” about Russia-gate … well, “you can believe he’s dead wrong” on that one. One can still admire Herman for providing the framework and conceptual tools needed to unmask whoppers – except please don’t apply them to Russia-gate. Would the NY Times manufacture consent on Russia-gate? Does anyone remember the Times’scheerleading for the war on Iraq?

    • Russian President Putin signs ‘foreign agent’ media law

      The bill, in retaliation for Kremlin-backed broadcaster RT being told to register as a foreign agent in the US, was earlier approved by parliament.

    • As Flynn cuts off WH, top 4 Alleged Crimes he could sink Trump with

      Ret. 3-star general Michael Flynn, under investigation by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, has ceased sharing information on his case with the Trump white house. Analysts think that this move may be a sign that Flynn is turning state’s evidence and may provide information damning to Trump.

      Flynn was a top Trump campaign official and then National Security Adviser to the president. He appears to have committed or planned several alleged crimes and if Trump was in the loop, he would be tarnished by Flynn’s rackets. (Not that Trump doesn’t have his own tarnishing rackets). Remember, it isn’t the crime that usually gets them but the cover-up.

    • What Happened to the 16 Women Who Accused Trump of Sexual Misconduct

      As new sexual-harassment accusations — sometimes several per day — pour out in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, there’s one person whose alleged sexual misconduct seems simultaneously ever-present, and yet grossly overlooked.

      Some have argued that there would be no #MeToo moment if Donald Trump had not been elected, even after being accused of various forms of misconduct, from groping to rape. But in recent weeks several of Trump’s accusers have said that while they’re happy sexual harassment is being discussed more openly, they’re still dismayed that their own stories seem to have had little impact. Some have continued speaking out, hoping that away from the chaos of the election, people might be more ready to listen to their accounts. A defamation suit filed by Summer Zervos, one of the accusers, has also opened up the possibility that they’ll get their day in court.

      But for now, Trump seems entirely unfazed by the allegations hanging over him. Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed last month that it is the White House’s official position that every single one of the women is lying, and Trump has not shied away from condemning alleged sexual harassers (if they’re Democrats).

      Here’s a reminder of what behavior the president has been accused of, including, when available, an update on how the women have continued trying to make their stories heard.

    • In the Era of #MeToo, Will Trump’s Accusers Finally Be Heard?

      The #MeToo social movement has taken off with surprising swiftness after numerous women broke their silence in October over Harvey Weinstein’s years of alleged assaults. Every day new revelations emerge of yet another prominent man in power facing accusations from multiple women of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior—sometimes dating back decades. News media are enthusiastically reporting on these stories, and employers have been quick to suspend alleged perpetrators and launch investigations. The accusations are aimed at men across the political spectrum, revealing that men who profess liberal and conservative views alike appear to have resorted to despicable behavior behind closed doors—simply because they could.

      Why then is Donald Trump still immune from the equal-opportunity whirlwind of public shaming?

      It is nothing new for women to come forward about their victimization at the hands of men. But until now they have paid a high personal price for doing so, and often had their experiences discounted. One of the earliest high-profile cases in recent memory was that of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who during his confirmation hearings in 1991 faced allegations of sexual harassment by junior staff attorney Anita Hill. Hill’s accusations were ridiculed and dismissed. Right-wing operative David Brock even wrote a book about her called “The Real Anita Hill,” which he has since disavowed as “character assassination” after he changed political sides. Hill’s experience was a message to women in Washington, D.C., and the nation as a whole: If women dared expose the predations of powerful men, they would pay a stiff personal price.

    • The Trump-Russia Story Is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of It

      The news is coming so fast and furious, from so many sources and in so many fragments, that it takes more than a scorecard to keep up with the Trump-Russia connection. It takes a timeline — a “map,” if you will, of where events and names and dates and deeds converge into a story that makes sense of the incredible scandal of the 2016 election and now of the Trump Administration.

      For years Steve Harper produced timelines for the cases he argued or defended in court as a successful litigator. Retired now from practicing law, Harper has turned his experience, talent, and curiosity to monitoring for BillMoyers.com the bizarre and entangled ties between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump and the murky world of Russian oligarchs, state officials, hackers, spies, and Republican operatives. You can check out the over 700 entries right here. But for an overview — and some specifics — of recent developments, I called up Steve to give us a sense of the emerging story.

  • Censorship/Free Speech
    • Facebook hiring hundreds to comply with hate speech law

      The new personnel, who will work for a service provider called CCC out of a new office in the western city of Essen that opened on Thursday, will be responsible for reviewing content posted to the social media platform.

    • Facebook opens 2nd office combating hate speech in Germany

      German lawmakers approved a bill in June that could see social networking sites fined up to 50 million euros ($59 million) if they persistently fail to remove illegal content within a week.

    • Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are currently blocked for millions in Pakistan

      Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are currently blocked in Pakistan. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) also ordered that all news channels be taken off-air. They made these drastic changes in light of protests in the capital and under the authority of the Media Code of Conduct 2015.

    • WordPress ignoring terrorist propaganda, campaigners say
    • Were being pushed towards silence, self-censorship: Gandhi
    • Stop Funding Hate has a simple aim: political censorship

      Here’s a law of politics that is about as cast-iron as a law of politics can be: people who hate tabloid newspapers are snobs. Every time. Scratch a Daily Mail basher or those people who seethe daily about the Sun and you will find someone who’s really just scared of the throng and of what all this tabloid fare is doing to their brains.

    • Sudden Shift at a Public Health Journal Leaves Scientists Feeling Censored

      For much of its 22-year existence, few outside the corner of science devoted to toxic chemicals paid much attention to the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

      But now, a feud has erupted over the small academic publication, as its editorial board — the scientists who advise the journal’s direction and handle article submissions — has accused the journal’s new owner of suppressing a paper and promoting “corporate interests over independent science in the public interest.”

      More is at stake than just the journal’s direction.

    • Language and Censorship Stir Singapore Filmmakers

      The title of the panel discussion at the Singapore International Film Festival on Saturday was innocuous enough – Singapore cinema: Then and Now – but the filmmaker panelists chose to speak about subjects close to their hearts, especially the use of the Hokkien dialect of the Chinese language and censorship.

      The panelists included Ghazi Alqudcy, whose debut feature “Temporary Visa,” shot entirely in Bosnia Herzegovina is currently in post; Wesley Leon Aroozoo whose first feature documentary “I Want To Go Home” premiered at Busan and is also playing at SGIFF; and filmmaking couple Colin Goh and Woo Yen Wen, who are now based in Taiwan.

    • Why is Google’s Eric Schmidt So Afraid?

      OK, it’s from Russia Today so you should of course not trust it but somehow this video and text and the man in it seems quite factual, not fake and obviously not omitted.

      It documents that Eric Emerson Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet – an American multinational conglomerate that owns a lot and among them Google – is working on “de-ranking” alleged propaganda outlets such as Russia Today, RT – the world’s third largest television network – and Sputnik.

      [...]

      Mr Schmidt, you are blatantly and clearly interfering in the rights of millions, if not billions, to know. To seek information. To shape their opinions.

      With your few words you abuse your almost unlimited digital, political, economic and ‘defence’ power – much much worse than if you had sexually abused just one woman for which older men today are fired or choose to resign.

      This has to be stated irrespective of whether we like or dislike Russia and its media. That is not the issue here. This has to be fought against because it is slippery slope, Mr Schmidt.

    • How a lone Ghanaian cartoonist stood up to China

      In April, Ghanaian artist Bright Tetteh Ackwerh published a cartoon on his Facebook page titled, “We Dey Beg,” or “We are begging,” in honor of a recent campaign against illegal gold mining supported by Chinese companies, which has polluted local rivers.

      In the image, China’s president Xi Jinping is pouring a sludge of brown water from a Ming dynasty vase into bowls held by Ghana’s president and the minister of natural resource. Next to Xi, China’s ambassador to Ghana happily clutches a gold bar.

    • The Hays Code: Real censorship in America SOFREP Original Content

      Most people admit that propaganda is pretty common in the United States in one form or another, but all out censorship is pretty rare. Freedom of speech is a hallmark of American values, and though private institutions may disallow one thing, or groups of people might discourage another, it is still generally legal to say whatever you want. Still, you get in murky waters when you’re talking about the distribution of entertainment, as it’s tied in with both the government and monopoly-like institutions that will effectively have the final say as to what type of stuff is put out there.

    • Govt should strike balance between censorship, security: DRF

      The NetBlocks internet shutdown observatory project in coordination with the Digital Rights Foundation has collected evidence of nation-wide internet disruptions throughout Pakistan.

      On the afternoon of Saturday 25 November, internet users reported disruptions affecting key social media platforms amid protests. The present investigation seeks to provide an early determination of the extent of those restrictions.

  • Privacy/Surveillance
    • Extreme digital vetting of visitors to the US moves forward under a new name

      The Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement is taking new steps in its plans for monitoring the social media accounts of applicants and holders of US visas. At a tech industry conference last Thursday in Arlington, Virginia, ICE officials explained to software providers what they are seeking: algorithms that would assess potential threats posed by visa holders in the United States and conduct ongoing social media surveillance of those deemed high risk.

      The comments provide the first clear blueprint for ICE’s proposed augmentation of its visa-vetting program. The initial announcement of the plans this summer, viewed as part of President Donald Trump’s calls for the “extreme vetting” of visitors from Muslim countries, stoked a public outcry from immigrants and civil liberties advocates. They argued that such a plan would discriminate against Muslim visitors and potentially place a huge number of individuals under watch.

    • UK spy court ruled immune from judicial review – for now

      The UK’s Court of Appeal has ruled that the body that oversees the nation’s intelligence agencies cannot be held subject to a judicial review under active laws.

      In a judgment handed down yesterday, the court rejected an argument from campaign group Privacy International that aimed to use case law to back up its the right to appeal a decision from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

      As part of its ongoing legal battles with the UK’s snoops, Privacy International took GCHQ to the court, alleging that it had been the subject of unlawful computer hacking by the spy agency.

      It questioned whether there had been a lawful warrant from the secretary of state for this activity, with the case hinging on the specificity of the warrant.

    • How to link Aadhaar to insurance policies

      The Irdai has issued a circular making it mandatory for all policyholders to link their Aadhaar and PAN details to their insurance policies. If one does not have a PAN card, Form 60 must be furnished to comply with this requirement.

    • How to link PAN with Aadhaar

      It has now become mandatory to link your Permanent Account Number (PAN) with Aadhaar irrespective of whether you file income tax returns or not. The government in the last budget introduced a new law which made it mandatory for every individual with a PAN to link it with Aadhaar.

    • What Amazon Echo and Google Home Do With Your Voice Data
    • Best browsers for privacy

      With a number of options out there for private browsing, we take a look at the best browsers on the market for privacy. Please note this list is not ranked.

    • Watching NSFW Sites? Microsoft Edge May Automatically Turn On Incognito Mode [Ed: Misleading headline. Better headline: Microsoft is spying on all your browsing and detects what porn you watch.]
    • China’s censorship czar falls, as its “Police Cloud” tracking system rises across the country

      Another key application is the infamous “predictive policing“. The hope is that by analyzing huge quantities of data about past events and incidents, the police can predict where future crimes may occur, and who the perpetrators will be. This is something that is being explored around the world, but China’s comprehensive datasets may encourage local authorities to rely on it even more than elsewhere. On this point, the HRW post concludes [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing
    • Birth of a Nation

      These acts reveal the Virginian mindset. Indigenous peoples were barriers to development, keeping colonists from realizing their new plan for the region. The initial scheme had been to get in, find gold or silver, then get out. That went nowhere. Then the settlers turned to agriculture. To acquire land, they seized it from the Chickahominies, Paspaheghs, and Weyanocks, and occupied Appomattoc, Arrohattoc, and Powhatan domains.

      Farming also required labor. Finding too many inclined to sloth, Dale instituted martial law. “People were to be called to work by drumbeat, leave their work by drumbeat, be led to church by drumbeat”— rules that “were welcomed by the venture’s leaders as bringing order and stability to the colony.” Others thought the strictures “mercylessly executed,” as one case demonstrates. A group of men was fleeing to Native lands. “When caught, some were ‘apointed to be hanged, some burned, some to be broken upon wheles, others to be staked, and some to be shott to deathe,’” Bernard Bailyn explains.

      For some reason this colony could not attract enough settlers, but English functionaries soon found a solution. “In the fall of 1618,” it was “reported that the City of London was shipping to Virginia ‘an hundred younge boyes and girles that [had] bin starving in the streetes,’” and who were to be sent “‘against their wills’ if necessary.” Officials forced several hundred more children to Virginia in the following years.

      There were also seven young “vagabonds who had been snatched up from the London streets” aboard the Mayflower. The Pilgrims aimed to settle in Virginia after talks with Edwin Sandys, a top Company man. But they never reached their intended destination– at the Hudson River’s mouth; Virginia’s holdings ranged far– and instead arrived at Plymouth in December 1620.

      [...]

      We should see Plymouth, with its founding document crafted to constrain populism; political theater passing as elections; racism; severe arrogance; and affinity for violence, as a city upon a hill. From it, we can discern the grim contours of US history, as it would unfold in centuries to come.

    • History’s Emancipator: Did Abraham Lincoln Have “a Drop of Anti-Slavery Blood in His Veins”?

      On December 24, 1860, South Carolina legislators alluded to the Declaration of Independence when stating their reasons for secession. Abolitionists were “inciting” contented captives to “servile insurrection,” and “elevating to citizenships” Blacks who constitutionally were “incapable of becoming citizens.” South Carolina’s secession from the United States did not just mean the loss of a state, and soon a region, but the loss of the region’s land and wealth. The South had millions of acres of land that were worth more in purely economic terms than the almost 4 million enslaved human beings who were toiling on its plantations in 1860. With their financial investments in the institution of slavery and their dependence on its productivity, northern lenders and manufacturers were crucial sponsors of slavery. And so, they pushed their congressmen onto their compromising knees to restore the Union.

    • One Officer, Scores of Tickets and a Familiar Racial Disparity

      Brown has fully embraced the ticket enforcement effort. Records show Brown issued 198 pedestrian tickets over five years, four times the total of the next most prolific officer. Slightly more than 60 percent of his tickets went to blacks, meaning one of every 10 blacks to receive a pedestrian ticket in Jacksonville from 2012 to 2017 was cited by Brown.

    • China under-20 football tour suspended after pro-Tibet protests

      A tour of Germany by China’s under-20 men’s football team has been suspended after their first match was met with protests.

      The remaining games in Germany will be postponed, the German Football Association said, after a group of protesters unfurled Tibetan flags causing the Chinese team to walk off the pitch. The association has not given a date for the rescheduled games.

    • Police Oversight Ordinance Promised Transparency But Doesn’t Fully Deliver

      The reason? The agency is hamstrung by the ordinance that created it. The law, pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, includes specific language preventing the agency from immediately sharing its reports with the public.

      Sharon Fairley, who recently resigned as COPA’s chief administrator to run for Illinois attorney general, said she objected to that provision in the ordinance, passed by the City Council last year.

    • Thanksgiving Is a Tradition. It’s Also a Lie

      We don’t have to buy turkey. We don’t have to buy into any of it. Sure, it’s a tradition. So is the Confederate flag. Last year, we got national media attention at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests when they sicced their dogs on us. The last time we got that kind of attention, Richard Nixon was in office, when we occupied Alcatraz for almost two years. That occupation started the week of Thanksgiving 1969. In North Dakota almost 50 years later, private militia spent the week of Thanksgiving shooting Native protesters with rubber bullets and spraying us with freezing water. Some of us had never seen ourselves onscreen. And then we saw them trying to get rid of us like time never moved, like the Indian wars didn’t end, just went cold.

    • Remembering Puerto Ricans–Americans–on Thanksgiving

      Many Puerto Ricans are spending Thanksgiving on the mainland, away from home and family and friends, as climate refugees. I guess this catastrophe is something that should be on our minds on this day of feasting.

      Thanksgiving was a northern, regional holiday until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln promulgated its as a way of creating a national symbol to incorporate even the alienated South. Thanksgiving needs to continue that work of national integration today, with regard to Puerto Rico. It should be remembered that they didn’t ask for us. We invaded during the Spanish-American War of 1898 on the grounds that we regretted their lack of liberty under the crown. Then we kept the island as a territory and gave the inhabitants citizenship.

    • The ‘Opposite’ of Leadership: Anita Hill Says Joe Biden Apology Not Good Enough

      In a lengthy Washington Post interview with Anita Hill and five female Democratic lawmakers who supported her during the historic confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, Hill criticized former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent apology regarding how he and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee handled her allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her.

      In her remarks, published late Wednesday, Hill said Biden’s new mea culpas don’t really take “ownership of his role in what happened.” He and other lawmakers should have shown “leadership” at the time, she added, “And they did just the opposite.”

      Hill, who is now a professor of legal history and public policy at Brandeis University, testified in 1991—in front of a Judiciary Committee comprised of only white men—that Thomas sexually harassed her when he worked as her supervisor at both the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    • More Than 180 Women Have Reported Sexual Assaults at Massage Envy

      On May 2, 2015, Susan Ingram lay facedown in the dark at her local Massage Envy in West Chester, Pennsylvania, one of the franchise’s nearly 1,200 spas nationwide. It was her seventh session with James Deiter, a massage therapist whom the spa had enthusiastically recommended. By now, Ingram trusted Deiter, and she closed her eyes and relaxed as he worked her muscles. Then, without warning, Deiter ground his erect penis against Ingram’s body. He groped her breasts. He put his fingers in and out of her vagina.

      Ingram lay there, frozen in fear and disbelief, until the session was over. After driving home sobbing, she called the spa to report the sexual assault. She was shocked when the manager refused to interrupt the session Deiter was having with a female client, Ingram said, or to connect Ingram with the spa’s owner.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality
    • More than a Million Pro-Repeal Net Neutrality Comments were Likely Faked

      I used natural language processing techniques to analyze net neutrality comments submitted to the FCC from April-October 2017, and the results were disturbing.

    • From an Open Internet, Back to the Dark Ages

      Can anyone still doubt that access to a relatively free and open internet is rapidly coming to an end in the west? In China and other autocratic regimes, leaders have simply bent the internet to their will, censoring content that threatens their rule. But in the “democratic” west, it is being done differently. The state does not have to interfere directly – it outsources its dirty work to corporations.

      As soon as next month, the net could become the exclusive plaything of the biggest such corporations, determined to squeeze as much profit as possible out of bandwith. Meanwhile, the tools to help us engage in critical thinking, dissent and social mobilisation will be taken away as “net neutrality” becomes a historical footnote, a teething phase, in the “maturing” of the internet.

    • Dem FCC member: Stop us from ending net neutrality

      “They have proposed to end net neutrality, and they are trying to force a vote on their plan on Dec. 14,” Rosenworcel writes. “It’s a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans who work and create online every day.”

    • I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality

      Net neutrality is the right to go where you want and do what you want on the internet without your broadband provider getting in the way. It means your broadband provider can’t block websites, throttle services or charge you premiums if you want to reach certain online content.

    • If Trump’s FCC Repeals Net Neutrality, Elites Will Rule the Internet—and the Future

      Net-neutrality protections assure that the essential democratic discourse on the World Wide Web cannot be bartered off to the highest bidders of a billionaire class that dominates the political debate on so many other media platforms.

    • Net Neutrality and the FCC: Let’s talk about this abusive pattern of releasing controversial policies on major holidays

      So the FCC has released its plans to eradicate Net Neutrality in the United States, on Thanksgiving, as it said it would. This, on its own, merits more discussion – for it is such a blatant display not just of bad faith, but bad faith that they fully expect to get away with.

    • Maine lawmakers denounce FCC plan to end net neutrality

      “[The internet is] a vital part of 21st century life and a critical driver of a modern economy,” King said in a statement. “The proposed repeal of net neutrality threatens those advancements by putting speed and availability of information for sale to the highest bidder.”

    • The FCC’s Order Is Out, We’ve Read It, and Here’s What You Need to Know: It Will End Net Neutrality and Break the Internet

      The FCC is scheduled to vote on this dangerous proposal at its meeting on Dec. 14.

      Pai’s draft is a lot of things: thin on substance and reasoning, cruel, willfully naive — and it’s everything that ISPs like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon could have wanted (and more). But what it’s not is sensible or grounded in reality. It will take away every safeguard we need to protect the open internet we’ve always had, giving ISPs the power to kill off their competition, choke innovation, charge more for different kinds of content, suppress political dissent, and marginalize the voices of racial-justice advocates and others organizing for change.

    • FCC Commissioner Begs Nation to Stop GOP Colleagues From Killing Net Neutrality

      After one commissioner called the FCC’s newly-released plan to roll back net neutrality “worse than one could imagine,” a second commissioner is now calling voters to make sure the proposal by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai does not go through.

      In a Los Angeles Times op-ed published Thursday—entitled “I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality”—Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel points to the overwhelming public support for net neutrality and the ongoing questions about validity of anti-net neutrality public comments submitted to FCC, as well as what appear to be tens of thousands of missing comments. “If the idea behind the plan is bad, the process for commenting on it has been even worse,” she writes.

      Rosenworcel decries Pai’s plan as “a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans who work and create online every day.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies
    • Copyrights
      • Copyright Holders Want ISPs to Police Pirate Sites and Issue Warnings

        Copyright holders have asked South African lawmakers to include tough anti-piracy measures in the upcoming Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill. Among other things, they want ISPs to police pirate sites and send warnings to copyright-infringing subscribers. For now, however, the Government doesn’t plan to include any, as this doesn’t fit the purpose of the bill.

      • Supreme Court Will Decide if ISP Can Charge Money to Expose Pirates

        US-based movie company Voltage Pictures is using a reverse class action in Canada, hoping to obtain settlements from alleged pirates. The case requires Internet provider Rogers to expose many alleged pirates, but the ISP wants $100 per hour to make this happen. This resulted in a dispute between the movie company and Rogers, which is now heading to the Supreme Court.

      • Police Seize Hundreds of Computers Over Pirate Movie Download in 2013

        Copyright trolling in Poland has taken on a sinister twist. A local journalist informs TorrentFreak that as many as 300 people have had their computers seized by police over an alleged movie download four years ago. Furthermore, the lawyer involved in this case is currently subject to a disciplinary inquiry after some of his copyright work was seen as potentially undermining trust in the legal profession.

        [...]

        “As a barrister of the [copyright holder], Artur Glass-Brudziński had access to the prosecutor’s documentation. So he used this to obtain identified names and addresses, without waiting for the end of the criminal proceeding. Those people were just witnesses, but Glass-Brudziński sent thousands of letters to them, suggesting they are suspects, which was not true,” Maj says.

Patent Sharks’ Last Resort: Mohawk Immunity, ‘STRONGER’ Patents Act, Qualcomm Thickets, and SLAPP

Sunday 26th of November 2017 01:10:36 PM

Trolls’ alter ego; they used to be called “patent sharks” — now a broader group of predators or parasites whose existence is based solely on patents

Summary: A roundup of news stories which serve to illustrate the depths of the methods now employed by patent predators, to whom nothing is out of bounds (in the name of patent predation)

THIS morning an article by Brian Nearing was published in the mainstream media. It’s about the US patent system (USPTO) and PTAB, or more specifically about attempts to dodge PTAB inter partes reviews — a subject we have written many articles about. What’s particularly odd about it is the summary: “Senators call tribe’s ownership of trademarks “legal fiction””.

This has nothing to do with trademarks. It’s about patents. Can the author/editor not distinguish? Generally speaking, copyrights, trademarks and patents are very different. Stop calling these “IPR”, “IP” or “intellectual property [rights]“. These propaganda terms are intended to mislead and demonstrably that deception succeeds sometimes. The article’s headline and body are OK and many quotes are included in it (after the introduction).

At the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation on New York’s side of the St. Lawrence River, there is a casino, a broadband company, and a television studio. But pharmaceutical and computer software facilities are nowhere to be found.

This fall, the tribe and its 15,600 members put no money down to become new legal owners of federal patents for a multibillion-dollar eye medication, as well as for computer software programs that help drive tech giants like Microsoft, Apple and Amazon.

[...]

Last month, Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said patent sales to the Mohawks were “one of the most brazen and absurd loopholes I’ve ever seen, and it should be illegal.”

She has introduced legislation seeking to abrogate tribal sovereign immunity.

In a letter this fall, four other U.S. senators called the deal a scheme to protect “Allergan’s market monopoly — and its profits — at the expense of people who need the drug.”

That letter was signed by Sens. Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Margaret Wood Hassan of New Hampshire, and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

We expect that practice to be made illegal soon. We also expect the US Supreme Court to cement PTAB’s role, as we said earlier today. Hearings in Oil States Energy Services v Greene’s Energy Group start in about 24 hours from now.

PTAB is, contrary to the above, also under attack from few American politicians. About a week ago we saw this article about an Oklahoma CEO. This is total, unadulterated rubbish. It’s a puff piece for the patent trolls’ lobby (STRONGER Patents Act of 2017). When talking about STRONGER [sic] Patents Act always remember that what they mean by strong is the very opposite of strong. It means crappy, low-quality, weak patents. We wrote quite a few articles about it (as early as summer) and why it’ll never get enough Congressional support.

Patent maximalists are nowadays on the retreat and they typically rely on mischief and deception, just like Team UPC in Europe. Such is the case with the Mohawks and STRONGER [sic] Patents Act. What next/else will they try? Shaming another USPTO Director out of Office? Burning (literally) patents in an illegal protest on USPTO premises? Fake scandals regarding PTAB? Fake news?

Notice how the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) spoke about Qualcomm’s latest patent thicket. “Very quietly” it came about because the public knows it’s a predatory shark and its fees are nothing but ‘protection’ money. Also notice the attack on free speech itself. Last weekend we wrote about how the EFF got repeatedly sued for mocking patents. The judge said that it’s OK to mock bad patents, but only after the EFF had spent a lot of money and time (legal altercations). Several days ago the technical media wrote about it as follows:

A federal judge in California has ruled in favor of the Electronic Frontier Foundation after the organization was recently sued over its “Stupid Patent of the Month” blog posts. As a result, the advocacy group is not required to remove a recent post simply because an Australian patent entity (often called “trolls”) doesn’t like it.

The case began back in April 2017 when EFF countersued an Australian company that it previously dubbed as a “classic patent troll” in a June 2016 blog post entitled: “Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer.”

In 2016, that company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove its post—but EFF did not comply. In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still left the post up and then sued regarding the Australian court’s injunction.

The EFF uses databases like Docket Navigator and Lex Machina to 'hunt' patents and will hopefully carry on in spite of years of SLAPPing. Google too has a repository of patents and days ago a press release said that “CPA GLOBAL CONTRIBUTES DATA TO GOOGLE PATENTS PUBLIC DATASETS BIG DATA PROJECT” (but with Google one cannot track actual lawsuits, for strategic take on patents that escalated into legal action).

The more marginalised patent sharks feel, the more aggressive they’ll become. Like a cornered animal…

Raw: National Delegates at the EPO Stood by and Mostly Supported Battistelli While Six Staff Committed Suicide

Sunday 26th of November 2017 11:58:38 AM

Inaction too may sometimes relate to complicity


Complete letter with appendices [PDF]

Summary: Suicides at the EPO and refusal to allow investigation of these (which contributed to many suicides, including three more after the above letter)

Early Certainty Battistelli Will be Gone Soon: “JUVE Interview Creates the Impression That Benoit Battistelli’s Term in Office is Already Over.”

Sunday 26th of November 2017 11:40:48 AM

Full PDF

Summary: Dr. Christoph Ernst, who prematurely replaces Jesper Kongstad as Battistelli’s boss, has harsh (albeit still diplomatic) words for Battistelli (see what some insiders are saying [1, 2]), but he also ought to admit the decline in patent quality (EPs), owing in part to “Early Certainty from Search” (ECfS)

YESTERDAY we wrote about the interview in which Battistelli’s new boss criticised him (in a properly-functioning EPO the Chairman is superior to rather than subservient to the President of the Office).

This morning, in an article by “Kluwer UPC News blogger” (Unitary Patent boosters), this very same interview received some coverage under the headline “Christoph Ernst: ‘rigid regime’ cloud over achievements EPO president Battistelli” (so they too have seen what we are seeing).

To quote:

EPO president Benoit Battistelli has strengthened the overall position of the European Patent Organisation, but the social problems cloud these achievements. Christoph Ernst, chairman of the EPO Administrative Council (AC), has said this in an interview with the German legal website JUVE.

According to Ernst, who has been AC member for years and succeeded Jesper Kongstad as Chairman in October, the ‘working processes now run better, productivity is higher and the Boards of Appeal have been reformed. In addition, Battistelli has initiated a number of social reforms (…)’. However, he has criticism as well: ‘The verdict on the success of reforms he achieved will certainly be clouded by the fact that President Battistelli has overseen a very rigid regime with a heavy-handed approach. I would have occasionally liked to see more compromise and more understanding for differing interests.’

[...]

As chairman of the AC, Ernst expects willingness from the EPO’s union SUEPO, ‘to sit down with the new president and discuss objectives and how to achieve them’. Asked about the possibility to halt, as a gesture of goodwill, the disciplinary proceedings against an EPO judge, which has been dragging on for years (Wikipedia) and in which Battistelli intervened controversially, Ernst responded: ‘legal obstacles remain before the case can be brought to a conclusion. We need to see whether we can overcome these hurdles in the time that remains.’

If more stakeholders knew how “Early Certainty from Search” (ECfS) and PACE worked, they would be furious. In the name of fast-tracking the examination or patent-granting process, the Office has chosen poorly-implemented methods, usually with zero input from examination staff (or representatives) and no consultation with stakeholders, e.g. applicants. The result, which is described in this PDF, will make nobody happy.

“Kluwer UPC News blogger” correctly notes that Ernst is still in denial about the collapse of patent quality; this in its own right is problemaic. Face-saving won’t come from rejection of reality. He should listen to examiners (discreetly if necessary).

Patently-O is Still Trying to Derail Patent Reform in the United States

Sunday 26th of November 2017 08:52:32 AM

Summary: A look at the past week’s posts from Patently-O reveals a blog whose tone shifts strongly against patent sanity and instead leans towards the patent ‘industry’

A LOT of people regard Patently-O as/to be the “best” patent blog and many also consider it to be objective and balanced. We dispute that in view/light of recent posts from Patently-O, which were not only hostile towards PTAB (especially over the past half a year) but also friendly to patent trolls and apathetic at best towards USPTO patent quality. Using scholarly/academic veneer, Patently-O serves to reinforce patent extremism in the same way that some right-wing “news” sites embolden or reinforce white supremacy. The same cannot be said about other academics, who are mostly pro-patent reform (we’ve named many over the years).

“Using scholarly/academic veneer, Patently-O serves to reinforce patent extremism in the same way that some right-wing “news” sites embolden or reinforce white supremacy.”The main writer at Patently-O is Dennis Crouch, who regularly attends events of the patent microcosm. According to him, Trump and his swamp might soon be defunding USPTO to have it run like a business rather than a service. We have not seen this suggestion anywhere else, so maybe it’s an expression of a wish rather than a reality. Do we need another ‘Battistelli’ at the USPTO? To quote Crouch:

And, an interesting feature of the 2018 Republican House Proposed Budget is shrink the Department of Commerce – currently “rife with waste, abuse, and duplication,” and “Establish the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as an independent agency.”

It is already independent enough as it is. Decoupling it would make things even worse. Crouch already contributed — along with Watchtroll and IAM — to driving Michelle Lee out. Does he want to exacerbate things even further? Probably. Yesterday he even advertised IAM.

The more dysfunctional things get, the lower patent quality will get and thus more lawsuits — something which these people profit from. From chaos comes order? No, to them, from chaos comes income/funding. It’s rather appalling.

“The more dysfunctional things get, the lower patent quality will get and thus more lawsuits — something which these people profit from.”The patent ‘industry’ likes to pretend that Alice is ambiguous (or not sufficiently clear) because these people simply refuse to accept reality. No software patents are tolerated by high courts anymore and Dennis Crouch is nowadays participating in immature caricatures that bash Alice. Where it says “patent industry” it actually alludes not to a real industry but a predator/parasite which sends legal threats. Actually, Alice helped a great deal and brought benefits to the real industry. Why don’t they get it? Why can’t they just move on? They have been trying to take a Supreme Court’s decision down for nearly four years now.

According to another new post, Dennis Crouch would even side with patent trolls if he perceived it as an opportunity to help software patents. To quote:

A new amicus brief supports RPost petition for writ of certiorari – arguing that lack-of-eligibility is not a proper defense to patentability. The brief has an interesting quote from P.J. Federico (co-author of the 1952 Patent Act) suggesting (by omission) that eligibility is not a litigation defense.

Is this encouraged as another anti-Alice ‘trick’?

Either way, Patently-O seems to be getting less and less objective by the week. We have been following the blog for years and can tell the difference.

The other day it wrote about “Lost Profits”, which is a loaded term which presumes entitlement to profit. This is how rich people typically think and Dennis Crouch, a rich person himself, put it like this:

Lost Profits: Like definiteness, lost profit award also requires “reasonable certainty.” In the lost profit context, the rule is applied in a more-standard approach. Namely, reasonable certainty is traditionally thought of as a standard of evidentiary proof needed for factual conclusions. This makes sense in the fact-heavy damages context but not so much in the indefiniteness arena that is very often seen as wholly a question of law.

Here, the appellate court held that lost profits due to the infringement were not proven because the district court did not consider whether a non-infringing alternative would have been an acceptable/available substitute to the patentee’s product. A new trial is necessary now to calculate the reasonable royalty damages that will presumably be less than the $2 million lost profit verdict overturned on appeal.

Last but not least (from the past week), Crouch spotted something in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) which cites a case from 70 years ago. To quote: “At the point of Novelty: An interesting bit of the opinion harkens back to the Supreme Court’s 1946 Halliburton decision – holding that functional claim language is particularly problematic when done at the point of novelty. Here, the court does not cite Halliburton but does note that the “asserted advance over the prior art” is the particular layered arrangement of the device, not “the choices of materials to perform each of the required catalytic processes.” Rather, those materials were expected to be ones already well known in the industry.

“Here, of course, the Federal Circuit is not suggesting that Halliburton is good law, but the court does implicitly conclude that there are important distinctions in the indefiniteness analysis when considering terms directed to well-known versus novel features.”

“It’s possible to be courteous and hold terrible views at the same time; these things aren’t contradictory.”The Federal Circuit (CAFC) is very different nowadays. We’ve commended the new chief judge, who is preceded by at least two patent maximalists who left a legacy of mischief if not corruption (Rader). They supported patent trolls, software patents, and much worse. The Supreme Court is nowadays overturning many of these decisions.

We certainly hope that the Supreme Court will set the law (de facto/caselaw) instead of the old CAFC, which was good for nobody except the patent microcosm and people like Crouch.

Truth be told, the legal ‘industry’ is imploding in the US as far as patents go. There’s less demand for it. That’s how it should be. Expect blogs like Patently-O to moan and bemoan the status quo. Crouch may do this politely and professionally, but his views will still be rubbish. It’s possible to be courteous and hold terrible views at the same time; these things aren’t contradictory.

Oral Arguments in Oil States Energy Services v Greene’s Energy Group (PTAB Case) Are About to Start

Sunday 26th of November 2017 07:53:21 AM

Tomorrow is a big day for the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS)

Summary: The hearings about Oil States will commence tomorrow, probably to secure the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) at the end, based on the track record of the Supreme Court’s Justices in recent years

THE USPTO has been compelled to improve its work (notably the quality of patents). PTAB would otherwise invalidate patents granted by the examiners. SCOTUS, moreover, delivered several decisions in recent years which overturned the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). It wasn’t just Alice but almost half a dozen different decisions. Not much has changed in SCOTUS except the death of Scalia and arrival of a much younger replacement. So if everything goes as expected, SCOTUS will soon defend PTAB, whose function has been invaluable in the crackdown on patent trolls (and SCOTUS does, in fact, use the term “trolls”). The case about PTAB is known as Oil States Energy Services v Greene’s Energy Group or just Oil States for short. We have published a few dozens of posts about it and the timetable of this case is getting clearer, having already reached the deadline for submission of briefs (advice to the court/Justices).

This case will have historic significance and the patent trolls’ lobby/patent microcosm tried very hard to influence the Justices. Their attempts to incite against PTAB have been documented here in nearly 100 posts. We have a pretty good idea of who did/said what. It’s on record.

Royal W Craig from Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz PC is one among many who try to keep abreast new cases, presumably PTAB cases too, and last week he wrote a sponsored essay at IAM [1, 2], in which he claimed: “Google Alerts is a powerful web monitor, provided that users choose appropriate keywords. For example, in order to monitor all precedential Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) decisions, a Google alert for ‘PTAB’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedure 2′ must be set because the latter is the regulation under which the PTAB designates decisions as precedential.”

We already use such “traps” in order to gather news of interest about patents. We are pretty comprehensive in our coverage and we try to catalog almost everything (coverage is otherwise monopolised by the patent microcosm). Sure, it’s infeasible to cover everything, but setting the bar somewhere (based on relevance/importance) means that nothing of great importance will slip out of sight.

Several days ago when Kluwer Patent Blog was down for the second time in a month (for a considerable length of time) we saw Brian Slater publishing this article about Oil States. He wrote about two more cases:

Three pending cases have the potential to reshape – or even eliminate – inter partes review, a procedure for challenging patent validity introduced by the 2011 America Invents Act (“AIA”). On November 27, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in two of those cases. In Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC, the Court will hear whether IPRs before administrative law judges of the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) are unconstitutional. In the second case, SAS Institute v. Matal, the Court will hear whether the PTAB must issue a final written decision on all claims challenged in an IPR petition or whether it may rule on only those claims as to which review was instituted. In the third case – yet to reach the Supreme Court – the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently decided en banc in Aqua Products that the burden in IPRs is on the petitioner to oppose claim amendments, not on the patent owner to justify them. We address these cases in turn.

Of all the above, Oil States is the only one that can really undermine PTAB and probably won’t. We mentioned the other cases and they did not get anywhere near the same level.

We often assume — perhaps quite safely — that the patent microcosm exaggerates the risks to PTAB in order to assure clients (read: money) that pursuing lots of patents and litigation is still desirable. But it’s nonsense. As we’ve said more than a dozen times before, PTAB is here to stay and given the composition of Justices in SCOTUS, not to mention their past judgments on patents, there's almost no way they’ll torpedo anything associated with the America Invents Act.

One of the new guys at the patent trolls’ lobby (IAM) wants us to think that SCOTUS Justices will scuttle PTAB, but there’s almost no way they’ll do that. Even people from within the patent microcosm occasionally admit that. Maybe if SCOTUS got scrapped and new Justice were selected, only then there might be a chance for Oil States surprises. We instead (as things stand) expect an almost unanimous decision in favour of PTAB’s inter partes reviews.

Anyway, here is what Adam Houldsworth wrote: (remember that these people speak for patent trolls; a de facto front group for them)

The US Supreme Court will next week hear oral arguments in Oil States Energy Services v Greene’s Energy Group, which concerns the constitutionality of inter partes reviews (IPRs) – the controversial USPTO invalidity proceedings introduced by the America Invents Act.

Should the nine justices strike down IPRs it would send shockwaves through the American patent landscape, removing a process that has been condemned by many rights holders and celebrated by others. But, even if they don’t – and the majority opinion seems to be they won’t – the future of the inter partes review will not be guaranteed; it also faces several other political and administrative threats.

Created in 2012 and intended to provide a more effective, streamlined means of expunging dubious patent grants, particularly those owned by so-called “trolls”, IPR hearings have had a huge impact since their inception. At least 6,382 IPR petitions have been filed in the last five years, nearly 70% of which have been instituted. And in 82% of final decisions, at least one patent claim has been found invalid.

Notice the continued pessimism. We have seen that for nearly 6 years. They keep pretending that PTAB is about to go away, but here we are in 2017 and PTAB keeps breaking records (depending on what one measures).

Moving away for a bit from patent extremists, here we have Roger Parloff’s report. The headline isn’t too helpful as it uses the insult of the patent trolls’ lobby, “patent death squads” (the disgraced CAFC judge came up with it), as if PTAB is a murderous thing. Not helpful a framing in the headline, but here are some bits from the article, which isn’t too bad. The hearings commence tomorrow:

The fate of a major patent reform law, enacted in 2011 to improve patent quality, will hang in the balance on Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court hears a constitutional challenge to one of its key provisions.

The law, the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), created a fast, inexpensive, administrative mechanism whereby anyone can ask the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to reassess the validity of a patent on certain grounds. Since the law came into effect, patent challengers have filed more than 7,700 petitions to trigger the procedure, known as inter partes review (IPR), according to Unified Patents, resulting in the cancellation of more than 20,500 patent claims—components of a patent that can serve as the basis for a lawsuit. Most of these claims were, in fact, being asserted in litigation at the time the IPR petitions were brought—often against multiple defendants. (Unified Patents is a company that tries to protect corporate clients from patent suits by, among things, bringing IPR proceedings.)

Five days ago the New York Times wrote about this too and the headline focused on “trolls” rather than so-called “patent death squads” (shifting the burden to the aggressors, not the defenders). [via]

The accusers in the case, Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group, argue that taking private property is something only a court — not a government agency like the patent office — can do.

It’s hard to tell how the Supreme Court will rule. Patents are not standard-issue private property, like a plot of land. They are granted by the government to encourage innovation, a public good, because inventors might not invent without a period of exclusivity over the fruits of their idea.

[...]

In a brief to the court, the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge — a nonprofit group arguing for broader access to affordable medicines — argued that the patent office’s panel “is an important and necessary tool in the fight to lower drug prices because it allows the timely removal of unmerited patents, which promotes competition.”

Tahir Amin, a co-executive director of the initiative, added that “there are a lot of patent trolls trying to extort rents from low-quality patents.”

The Supreme Court has in recent years shown itself sympathetic to the argument that patent protections have become too restrictive. On half a dozen occasions since 2013, it has overturned decisions by Federal District Courts granting patent rights over what were ultimately fairly intuitive processes.

Expect a lot of coverage about this case in days to come. Trials by media aren’t a ‘thing’ at SCOTUS, but certainly the patent trolls’ lobby (sites like IAM and Watchtroll) will try to intervene and influence the outcome. They have already been doing this for months. Even Patently-O joined in, revealing itself as more interested in patent trolls than in patent quality. These sites/blogs would even defend the most outrageous among patents.

As a side note, “IPR” should only mean inter partes review, not this nonsense which is a propaganda term, “Intellectual Property Right”. The other day we saw this article titled “The Importance of IPR protection”. Based on the headline alone one can tell that it’s shallow. Sadly, such is most coverage regarding patents. It’s basically marketing and lobbying (for profit) rather than journalism.

Microsoft Pursued Patents on HoloLens While Acknowledging Prior Art From Company That Now Sues Microsoft

Sunday 26th of November 2017 06:53:52 AM

Microsoft’s patent lust means quantity over quality (even copying other people, then patenting that copy/ripoff)

Summary: Microsoft sued for patent infringement over its useless gimmick (from a company it acquired and then scuttled)

Microsoft wants to be thought of as an innovative company, but what happens when the USPTO has evidence of willful infringement, followed by Microsoft trying to take credit for other people’s work?

Filed in the Southern District of New York was a lawsuit against Microsoft, which we saw covered in two sites. The first one said:

Microsoft has encountered a legal glitch in the development of its HoloLens headset. Connecticut-based company HoloTouch has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Redmond for “willfully” ignoring its holographic imaging patents.

The two patents in the dispute date back more than 10 years and Holotouch claims that Microsoft had known about them for years before implementing them into its mixed-reality headset.

Another report said:

It looks as though Microsoft has a bit of a legal situation on its hands in regards to its HoloLens technology.

The software giant stands accused of willfully infringing upon patents held by Connecticut-based HoloTouch. Recent court filings in the Southern District of New York reveal allegations of infringement on at least two holographic imaging tech patents dating back as far as 2006. Making matters worse, it appears that Microsoft even acknowledged HoloTouch’s patents as “prior art” in a 2013 patent filing of its own.

The technology in question covers a variety of touchless controls for a range of industries, including “ATMs, automotive equipment, aviation devices, consumer electronics, gaming equipment, home appliances, kiosks, leisure products, medical and military equipment.”

This is looking pretty bad for Microsoft as it suggests more than just willful infringement; it’s much worse. So when Microsoft claims that other companies do not “respect IP” (or something along those lines/lies) be sure to point out this case.

Raw: Central Staff Committee Requested EPO Audit by Transparency International One Year Before EPO Simply Hired Transparency International’s Director to Become EPO Spokesperson

Saturday 25th of November 2017 02:33:54 PM

Context: EPO Press Spokesperson and Obvious Conflicts of Interest With Supposed Anti-Corruption Group Transparency International

Summary: Letter from Joachim Michels (CSC/SUEPO) to Battistelli’s ‘protector’, Jesper Kongstad, preceding the extraordinary move which was absorption of former Transparency International staff

Desirability of an assessment of the EPO’s integrity system by Transparency International

Dear Mr Kongstad,

In recent years Transparency International (TI) has established itself as a competent, independent and respected civil society organisation. It did so largely through running assessments of national integrity systems with the aim of highlighting improvement avenues to governments. The member states’ delegations are likely to be familiar with their respective national assessments.

Recently TI extended their assessment methodology to 10 EU1 institutions. Their very detailed report highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the EU Institutions with respect to transparency, integrity and accountability. It found the general situation to be good, whilst issuing recommendations for further improvement as it did establish a risk of corruption in the assessed institutions.

The EPO’s governance has, at times, come under criticism. The Administrative Council itself has apparently had doubts about how to handle e.g. the auditing of the EPO, as can be seen from the creation and subsequent abolition of an Audit Committee. Now that the EPO is taking over another important task for its Members States and for the European Union, namely the administration of the Unitary Patent, it would appear opportune and pertinent to raise confidence in the unitary patent and make it a success. Industry and the public should be shown that all is done to assure the integrity of the EPO.

The methodology developed by Transparency International for assessing the EU institutions can just as well be applied to the EPO. We respectfully request that the Administrative Council establishes contact with
__________
1 http://www.transparencyinternational.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/EU_Integrity_System_Report.pdf

Transparency International for assessing the EPO’s integrity system. Such assessment would also complete the overall picture the EPO wishes to achieve with conducting various benchmarking studies.

Yours sincerely,

Joachim Michels
Chairman Central Staff Committee

Copies to:
Mr B. Battistelli, EPO President
Transparency International’s EU Office
Transparency International Deutschland
Transparency International Nederland

Raw: Battistelli Forbade EPO Strike Ballots at Least Four Times

Saturday 25th of November 2017 02:06:51 PM

Summary: Going back to the time of Battistelli’s controversial re-election, he went out of his way to suppress an electoral process — one in which a large majority voted for a lawful strike and nearly emptied the entire Office

Raw: Stacking the Deck to Interfere With a Fair Election at the EPO

Saturday 25th of November 2017 01:47:44 PM

Summary: Principal Director of Human Resources at the EPO (PD 4.3), and spouse of Battistelli's friend, tried to crush SUEPO by crushing the electoral process

EPO Becoming Like China is Something to Worry About, Not Something to Celebrate

Saturday 25th of November 2017 09:51:06 AM

The emergent home of patent trolls is something to remain as distant as possible from



From last month’s article by Bing Zhao

Summary: The EPO has nothing to brag about except growing ‘demand’ from China (patent applications numbers are down in most other nations) and media is doing a copy-paste of the EPO’s ‘press release’

YESTERDAY, not to our surprise, World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR) decided to join in as a stenographer (among other stenographers), parroting the EPO’s ‘press release’ rather than doing any investigative work. It’s easier to just copy-paste some ‘prepared’ Battistelli quotes than to actually research the underlying facts. We are pretty certain that the EPO‘s PR people (Rainer, Jana Mittermaier and external help) were responsible for this. We already heard how that works.

“It’s easier to just copy-paste some ‘prepared’ Battistelli quotes than to actually research the underlying facts.”What was the ‘story’ about? Well, it was just a ‘press release’ retitled “EPO and SIPO renew patent cooperation” (i.e. nothing really changes). As a hallmark of corruption, last year Battistelli brought the Chinese officials to his home town where he works as a politician. He’s not even good at hiding his motivations and eternal mischief. Maybe he became blind to it as it became so routine.

Either way, the patent trolls’ megaphone (and Battistelli’s megaphone, which is an overlapping task) decided to revisit the situation in China, having recently hired Chinese staff (because that’s where patent trolls go nowadays).

China is burdening itself with a trap that will bring nothing but patent trolls [1, 2, 3] and less than a day ago IAM wrote:

In a speech that garnered a lot of attention around the world, the Chinese president declared that: “Wrongdoing should be punished more severely so that IP infringers will pay a heavy price.” More recently, IP got one mention in Xi’s marathon 19th Party Congress speech last month, as he called for China to become a “country of innovators” and create a “market-oriented system for technological innovation”.

For the time being, President Xi’s vision (or “priority list”) seems to be lots and lots of patent trolls. Urging for people to apply for patents by the millions isn’t going to make a “country of innovators” but a country of litigation. This is already happening and it’s not at all desirable. Perhaps if China had a multi-party system — i.e. not a single person held all the power (Xi) — saner patent policy would be chosen.

“Perhaps if China had a multi-party system — i.e. not a single person held all the power (Xi) — saner patent policy would be chosen.”Another country where there’s a de facto single-party system (PAP) that has ruled for about half a century (it actively attacks political opposition/dissent) has gotten a similar problem. We are talking about Singapore, whose recently-deceased leader emulated China’s autocracy and at times hailed crackdown on protests. Singapore’s patent trolls problem was covered here earlier this year and yesterday Lexology said that “[c]laims to software [in Singapore] that are characterised only by source code and not by any technical feature” are not patentable…”

There are loopholes, however, and they’re described below:

To what extent can inventions covering software be patented?

Claims to software that are characterised only by source code and not by any technical feature cannot be considered an invention on the basis that the actual contribution would be a mere presentation of information.

However, computer programs may be patentable if the invention involves a technical contribution outside the excluded subject matter.

To what extent can inventions covering business methods be patented?

Pure business methods are not considered inventions and are not patentable. However, similar to computer programs, business methods may be patentable if they involve technical contributions outside the excluded subject matter. For example, claims relating to a computer-implemented business method would be considered an invention if the technical features (eg, servers, databases and user devices) interact with the steps of the business method to a material extent and in such a manner as to overcome a specific problem.

To what extent can inventions relating to stem cells be patented?

The Patents Act contains no specific provisions barring stem cells from patentability. Inventions determined by the examiner to fall within the list of acts prohibited by the Human Cloning and Other Prohibited Practices Act will be objected to.

China, unlike Singapore, has pretty much no restrictions on software patents (not anymore, the bars were lowered earlier this year), which makes it similar to the chaos caused by and promoted by Grant Philpott at the EPO (they just call it “CII” instead of software patents).

Are SIPO and EPO going to become a controversial pair whose lowered patent quality will have them characterised as worthless? If the EPO going to transform to mere registration or pure automation a la INPI? Whatever it is, the EPO looks like a shadow of its former self and it’s the fault of Battistelli’s policies. Only God (or Buddha) can save the EPO now…

In New EPO Interview With Juve, Chairman of the Administrative Council Criticises Battistelli

Saturday 25th of November 2017 09:15:21 AM

Summary: Dr. Ernst, the new Chairman of the Administrative Council (who was recently slammed for not caring enough about patent quality), has relatively harsh words about Battistelli’s methods and toxic legacy; Union Syndicale Fédérale has also gotten in touch in order to raise awareness

THE EPO is mentioned a lot in Juve’s November edition, which is available for free online. Benjamin Henrion said it contains a “UPC must read” — the part which we alluded to earlier this morning (death of UPC). The edition contains a 5-page article about the likely end of UPC (German impasse), another article about UPC and Brexit, and a 6-page interview with Dr. Ernst (who recently replaced Jesper Kongstad, the man who immediately entered the private sector unlike EPO employees). There is one more article there which is less relevant to us. By all means, EPO workers should consider reading Ernst’s views on Battistelli. It may matter a lot in the coming months/years.

Incidentally, yesterday SUEPO published this “letter of Union Syndicale Fédérale to EPO Administrative Council on time-limited contracts” — a letter dated about a month old and titled “Position of Union Syndicale Federale (USF) on the currently discussed new “Employment Framework” at the EPO” – for the attention of the Council of the EPO.” Did that have much of an impact? Only time will tell…

Sometimes it feels like Battistelli intentionally takes away holidays, various contract benefits and job security just to anger the ‘expensive’ EPO staff, causing such staff to leave (rather than be fired) and give way to ‘cheap’ staff that would not flag decline in patent quality. It’s like Battistelli wants another INPI while pursuing SIPO-level patent quality.

Below is the letter from Union Syndicale Fédérale.

Even UPC Proponents Admit UPC is Dead: “This is the End, My Friend”

Saturday 25th of November 2017 08:18:56 AM

Summary: The Constitutional Case against the UPC has fatal consequences, for there may be no judgment on it before 2020 (two whole years after Campinos takes over the EPO, whose future is uncertain)

OUR previous article showed how Team UPC and Team Battistelli were distracting from the real news regarding UPC. It’s like they live in a parallel universe where the UPC is believed to be imminent. It’s a big lie that EPO management would even pay media and academia to spread. It’s corrosive and offensive to truth itself (or facts).

“It’s corrosive and offensive to truth itself (or facts).”Well, posted throughout the day yesterday were a bunch of revealing tweets from longtime proponents of UPC (they have something to gain from litigation). Funny how nobody wants to write an actual article about it. They shy away from the truth. Christopher Weber, who had done a lot to promote the UPC delusion, saw this outline from Mathieu Klos‏ and added: “Nothing to add to this but some #Hashtags #Brexit #UPC #ThisIsTheEndMyFriend”

Klos‏ has important contacts around this entire process and he wrote (the tl;dr version): “Constitutional Challenge. Oral hearing means no judgement before 2020 + end of the British UPC dreams” (links to this page).

The longer version says this:

JUVE has been reporting on the UPC, the European Patent Office and developments at patent law firms and companies for twenty years – and now also in English.
You are reading the second edition of JUVE Patent, our new e-paper, which we will publish four times a year.

Germany is in the focus of the patent community – more than any other country in Europe. The Constitutional Case against the UPC has put the whole implementation of the new patent court on hold. The consequences for the European patent system could be dramatic if the Constitutional Court comes to a decision any later than 2019. While the patent world looks towards Karlsruhe the German patent courts are being flooded with cases by Non Practicing Entities. As a consequence the German patent market is running hot and the German litigation law firms are revving up their engines.

“I understand Mr. [Klos] to mean that IF there is hearing,” Weber remarked, “the UPC is in deep water. And that will be decided in 7-10 months.”

“Vigilance significantly limits their field of manoeuvre.”Even IAM, the biggest propagandist for UPC (paid and supported by the EPO to promote UPC), said “JUVE a top information source on Germany, so this is likely to be right. It means the UPC is dead in its current form. Whether there is the willingness to revive it remains to be seen. It’s unlikely, at least for a while.”

We have been saying that for a long as we too have contacts. But it’s premature to just declare the UPC dead and move on. As we’ve seen over the past decade, Team UPC is very mischievous and extremely manipulative. It even lies to politicians and makes stuff up. Some of these people should definitely be disbarred as they’re a disgrace to their profession. As Benjamin Henrion put it this morning: No decision of UPC constitutionality in Germany before a while means Brexit will kick in. But UPC proponents are legal hackers, they will come with another hack…”

Not if people are watching and reporting these ‘hacks’. Vigilance significantly limits their field of manoeuvre.

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