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03.17.10

Links 17/3/2010: KDE 4.5 Proposals, Benchmark of Distros in Development

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

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Becrypt avoids security resellers for Trusted Client

    When questioned about Becrypt’s decision to choose Ubuntu, Jones said the popular Linux distribution worked well with a diverse range of hardware.

    “One reason we chose Ubuntu is because it is a very powerful OS and is very up to date – it has got lots and lots of drivers,” he said.

    Administrators can assign a portion of the Trusted Client USB stick to store documents or applications. Alternatively, if internet connectivity is guaranteed, everything can be stored in the cloud.

  • Audiocasts

    • Full Circle Podcast #2: The Full Circle of Light (Brown)

      The podcast is in MP3 and OGG formats. You can either play the podcast in-browser if you have Flash and/or Java, or you can download the podcast with the link underneath the player.

    • Going Linux Podcast

      Scott’s question about a Mac-like dock for Linux generated a lot of feedback. We read and answer other questions as well.

    • The Software Freedom Law Show

      Aaron, Karen and Bradley discuss issues around the public domain and how it relates to copyright in general and copyrights on software in particular.

  • Events

    • Desktop Summit 2011 – Call for Hosts

      The KDE and GNOME communities are looking for a host for the Desktop Summit 2011, the combined annual conference featuring KDE’s Akademy and GNOME’s GUADEC events. Following up on the successful Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, the second edition of the combined event in 2011 will be the premier place to learn about, discuss, and work on free software on the desktop.

      The goal of the desktop summit will be to present and discuss the state of the art of free software for end users, do community building, enable cross-community collaboration, and enable partners from industry and other communities as well as individuals to get informed and involved.

    • In the Hearts of the South – Two great conferences

      Austin, Texas! Home to live music, great food, a world-class University (U of T) and the longhorns!) and IBM’s Linux Technology Center is a great place to have a Linux Fest, and that is what is happening on April 10th, 2010.

      For just one day the Linux Faithful are going to descend on Austin with a packed program that ranges from beginner subjects to those that would teach the experts in FOSS. After forty years in computer science (and most of those years using what most people would call today “Open Source”), I still find it is impossible to keep up with every aspect of it, so you will probably see me slip into a few of these talks to both learn what is going on and to talk face to face with some of the developers and people advocating their software’s use.

  • Desktop

    • No Apple computers for me

      I had been a apple computer user for the past 5 years and immensely enjoyed the hardware and the software. But, all good things come at a price. Apple’s price for a polished user experience has lately turned out to be user freedom.

      [...]

      All said, in the end, there is only one thing to do for me. Stick with Freedom and give up Apple. So, as of yesterday night, I have migrated all music from iTunes to Ubuntu (Rhythmbox player).

    • Open one way or another

      We’ve covered our concerns about Apple’s control issues, and we’ve also highlighted how the company is creating opportunity for more open alternatives to capture developers, mindshare and yes, believe it or not, consumers. This is the picture we foresaw in our 2008 report, Mobility Matters, where we described the first Android phone, the G1, not as an Apple iPhone killer, but an impressive first step and a sign of an oncoming onslaught of iPhone alternatives, all with openness advantages for hardware manufacturers and wireless carriers that can maintain or create their own brands, and also openness advantages for developers and users in the software available for the devices.

    • Windows Versus Ubuntu

      My home Ubuntu machine is also set up to periodically check for updates to all the installed software. It works as easily as automatic updates in Windows.
      One of the things I am amazed about for the above software is that all the Linux software is free and open-source. I see very little difference in performance from a user’s perspective, and using free open-source software has saved me several thousand Patacas by not having to pay software licensing fees.
      I am convinced that Ubuntu is a viable alternative for most work computers and can save businesses and other organizations considerable amounts of money. I also believe that it is an excellent alternative for children and parents for home computers.

  • Server

    • Linux on the cloud: IBM, Novell & Red Hat

      As proof of the Linux-powered cloud’s advantages, IBM points to eBay’s online payments division, PayPal, where developers are creating and testing payments applications for smartphones in IBM’s cloud. In the above statement, Osama Bedier, PayPal’s VP of product development, said, “We want to provide a very simple way to make payments available on all platforms, including mobile applications,” and IBM’s cloud delivers the goods.

    • Resonate Global Dispatch adds native support for RedHat Enterprise Linux and Novell SUSE

      Resonate Inc., the leading provider of award winning traffic management and load balancing solutions, today announced that it is shipping the latest version of Resonate Global Dispatch™ for RedHat Enterprise Linux and Novell SUSE.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • Five Improvements for KDE 4.5 (Part 2)

      In my opinion, the KDE4 desktop is the most revolutionary piece of Linux software since the Linux kernel itself, and I appreciate how it strives to challenge old desktop paradigms and introduce new ones.

  • Distributions

    • Benchmarks: Mandriva 2010.1, PCLinuxOS 2010, Ubuntu 10.04, openSUSE 11.3

      On the testing block this week was Mandriva 2010.1 Alpha 3, Ubuntu 10.04 post-Alpha 3 development snapshot from 2010-03-11, PCLinuxOS 2010 Beta, and openSUSE 11.3 Milestone 3. The latest development release of Mandriva 2010.1 is packing the Linux 2.6.33-desktop kernel, GNOME 2.29.91, X.Org Server 1.7.5, xf86-video-radeon 6.12.191, Mesa 7.7, GCC 4.4.3, and an EXT4 file-system. Ubuntu 10.04 is carrying the Linux 2.6.32 kernel, GNOME 2.29.92, X Server 1.7.5, xf86-video-radeon 6.12.191, Mesa 7.7, GCC 4.4.3, and an EXT4 file-system. PCLinuxOS meanwhile is based off the Linux 2.6.32 kernel with the Brain Fuck Scheduler (BFS) and other patches, KDE 4.4.1, X Server 1.6.5, xf86-video-radeon 6.12.4, Mesa 7.5.2, GCC 4.4.1, and an EXT4 file-system. Lastly, Novell’s openSUSE 11.3 Milestone 3 is built with the Linux 2.6.33 kernel, KDE 4.4.0, X Server 1.7.5, xf86-video-radeon 6.12.4, Mesa 7.7, a snapshot of GCC 4.5, and an EXT4 file-system.

    • Mandriva Family

      • PCLinuxOS 2010 Beta2 Release Information

        Kernel updated to 2.6.32.10bfs – Updates, bugs fixes and suggestions based on community feedback over the past week were implemented on the LiveCD. In addition to the KDE 4.4.1 SC version we now have Gnome, Phoenix XFCE, PCLXDE and Gnome Zen Mini isos available which showcase the various desktops available on PCLinuxOS. An Enlightenment desktop iso is also in the works and should be available sometime this week. PCLinuxOS 2010 was built from the ground up using the packages in our repository.

      • Living with ALT Linux Sisyphus

        I will stay on Sisyphus and enjoy the best of this distributions from Russia.There is no harm in paying back to my former commies friends by staying on so called ‘unstable” but still stable Sisyphus!

    • Gentoo Family

      • Council Meeting Summary

        Ideas seemed to converge on how to vote by email but it was noted that this would constitute a change of GLEP39 which the council can’t modify without an all-developers vote. Since there were already other changes planned or suggested to GLEP 39 it was decided that the council would work on a new text and submit it to a vote when ready. Calchan has volunteered to gather all ideas and work on the text.

      • Pardus: A Linux distribution for the end user

        Of course when I say leopard, with regards to anything computer, you think Mac OS X. Not this time. This time we’re talking about a different flavor of Linux – Pardus.Pardus is developed in Turkey and named after the Anatolian leopard. It’s goal is to be a complete distribution that new users can use with little introduction to Linux. It takes advantage of KDE 4 and offers a very user-centric experience.

        Pardus has a few features that most will have never heard of or seen before. In this article I will introduce you to some of these features as I introduce you to Pardus Linux.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Trading Idea – Is Red Hat close to Resistance?

        Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) are trading very close to calculated resistance at $30.90 with the current price action closing at just $30.76 placing the stock near levels that make it difficult to buy.

    • Debian Family

      • New cdbuilder server improves Debian infrastructure

        Today, the Debian project administrators are activating a new cdbuilder server. The server computes the official Debian ISO images once all software packages are ready for a new Debian release. While the old system needed 20 hours to build the ISOs, the new server needs less than two hours for the same job.

      • A Debian first: female candidate in running for leader

        For the first time in its 16-year history, the Debian GNU/Linux project has a woman in the running to become leader of the project when voting for the post takes place between April 2 and April 15.

        Margarita Manterola, a software developer from Argentina, mostly Python, teaches programming at a university. She has been involved with Debian since 2003, became a developer in 2005 and has been part of the Debian Women project since it kicked off in 2004.

      • Ubuntu

        • A Brief History of Brown: Ubuntu Feature Timeline

          The current stable release, as of this writing, and soon to be replaced by Lucid Lynx. Karmic brought us ext4 as the default filesystem, the first look at the Ubuntu Software Center, and the somewhat controversial GRUB2. Not to be left out of the cloud computing craze, Karmic shipped with Ubuntu One personal cloud service, and the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud Images.

        • If Dreams Were Real: Convergence of Distro and Kernel Versions

          In a lengthy 2008 blog (as we reported), Mark Shuttleworth outlined a plan for the most commonly used Linux distros (Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat and SUSE) to agree to a two-to-three-year major release cycle. The sting: if they were to agree to a common version numbering, it would immensely simply the software and especially the driver development process. According to Shuttleworth, it would lead to a definite positive effect for all distros.

        • Project: Getting Ready For Ubuntu 10.04 – Part 2

          In this installment we are going to cover the planning phase of the upgrade process. Good planning is often the difference between a good upgrade experience experience and a bad one. As a computing environment becomes more complex, planning becomes more essential. My environment is fairly complex so I have to plan.

        • Those pesky buttons
        • Why Window Button Placement Doesn’t Matter by

          The default positioning of window-management buttons in Ubuntu 10.04 has generated a lot of controversy. But given the decreasing importance of these buttons in modern desktop environments, I’m left wondering if the issue is really so important. In a year or two, after all, window titlebars may be a thing of the past.

        • Ubuntu 10.04 Radiance and Ambiance Themes for Google Chrome

          But those already employing the upcoming Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx are in luck, as they now have a couple of Google Chrome themes for both the “light” and the “dark” versions of Ubuntu’s visual revamp. And the best part is that they’re both available in Google’s own online gallery.

        • The Bizarre Cathedral – 69
        • Ubuntu Koala food console gets its cron on

          Scalr – the open source admin console for Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud and its Eucalyptus doppelganger – has added a cron job task manager to its arsenal, giving you more freedom to write and schedule scripts on sky-high virtual servers.

          Like RightScale, Scalr provides web-based management console for so-called infrastructure clouds, services like Amazon’s EC2 that provide on-demand access to scalable compute resources. Amazon now offers its own web interface, but services like Scalr and RightScale provide a few extras, and they dovetail with other, similar services, including Eucalyptus, the open source project that lets you mimic Amazon’s setup in your own data center.

        • Ubuntu Q&A

          Asay: There is much that we can do on the design side. It’s telling that Mark has stepped down as CEO so that he can focus on product design. He has an eye for design and should be a great addition to the Linux community’s efforts to improve Linux’s usability on the desktop.

          But the other side of it is that we work very closely with OEMs like Dell to ensure a seamless customer experience. If a customer buys an Ubuntu-based machine from Dell, it’s going to “just work.” Every time.

        • BitNami Releases Ubuntu-based Virtual Appliances, Makes Open Source Applications Easy to Deploy

          BitNami, the project that simplifies the process of deploying web applications natively, virtually and in the cloud, has released Ubuntu-based virtual appliances for all of the BitNami-packaged applications. Using the new, freely-available appliances, BitNami users can deploy ready-to-run virtual machine images of applications for CRM, bug tracking, document management, business intelligence and more in minutes.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Qi Hardware’s tiny, hackable Ben NanoNote now shipping

      That will get you a bare bones device that can simply be used as a Linux-based “handheld laptop” out of the box or, as the company hopes, be turned into anything from a PMP to an offline Wikipedia device. Something along those lines would seem to be the most practical, considering the device only has a 3-inch 320 x 240 display, along with some similarly basic specs including a 336 MHz XBurst Jz4720 CPU, 32MB of RAM, 2GB of flash storage, and a microSD card slot for expansion. Head on past the break for a look under the lid.

    • Android

      • Google Says There Are Now 30,000 Apps In Android Market

        At the most recent Mobile World Congress, Google CEO Eric Schmidt revealed that the company’s partners are now selling over 60,000 Android handsets on a daily basis. With that kind of growth rate, it’s no wonder that the size of the Android Market is increasing in its slipstream.

      • Where Are All the Open Source Mobile Apps?

        Android is great in principle: after all, having millions of mobiles running Linux at the bottom of the stack is pretty good news. But we have a big problem at the top: there are very few free software apps, so you are almost forced to run closed source code on top of the open source Android (ironic or what?).

        [...]

        While it’s great news that the Android platform is attracting developers more than the iPhone, and far more than Windows Mobile, these are still small numbers: 224 new projects in a year is pretty footling compared to the 30,000 apps that are out there for the Android.

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Against E-Waste

    There has always been the suspicion that the hardware manufacturers (especially Intel) teamed up with software vendors (especially Microsoft) to release software applications and operating systems increasingly heavy, forcing a constant process of updating, not only processors, but memory and hard disks too.

    This process of constant update went well until a certain point. Until they reached a sufficient computing power to run several applications in elaborate graphical environments .

    [...]

    With Open Source operating systems and applications, you can recycle old computers, from 2004, 2005, 2006, so they are able to run the latest applications such as Firefox, Audacity, Open Office, and with a little more powerful video hardware, to run the 3D effects of Compiz desktop and KDE 4.

  • Going Free

    • Skype publishes SILK audio codec source code

      Skype has announced that it has published the source code for its SILK audio codec, introduced last year, which the company uses in its internet telephony applications for Windows and Mac OS X. Daniel Berg, Skype’s Chief Technology Officer said “This represents a key step in the development of an international standard for a wideband codec for use on the Internet,”. The release of the source code comes as part of Skype’s recent submission of an an Internet Draft to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

    • Squeak 4.0 released – now under MIT/Apache license

      Squeak, the open source implementation of the Smalltalk language and environment, has been updated to version 4.0 and re-licensed under a combination of the MIT and Apache licences. Version 4.0 of the code is functionally identical to the previous 3.10.2 release of Squeak, only varying in the licensing terms, but the developers will release Squeak 4.1 as soon as possible to include current development work.

  • Graphics

    • Review: GIMP 2.6.7 – Free Gnu Image Manipulation Program

      I have grown to love the GIMP as I don’t have the money or want to illegally download Photoshop and soon after watching and reading tutorials online I learnt all I needed to know and begun sharing my knowledge with the rest of the GIMP community. GIMP, like Photoshop is available on most operating systems, and has a free portable version available to put on a flash drive for when GIMP isn’t installed.

      4½/5 – Great features and closely resembles Photoshop for free!

    • Shapeways switches to Blender for on-line rendering

      3D printing community Shapeways allows their members to upload 3D models, preview them on the website and have them 3D printed in a variety of materials. Until recently, the previews were rendered in OpenGL and were rather bland looking. I was involved in the implementation of Blender on their webservers, in order to generate better quality previews. Here’s a look behind the scenes of this project.

      Before I begin: this was an awesome project. I had a chance to work together with some great Blender designers and developers. The Shapeways team loved the concept but wasn’t easy to satisfy – a great combination for arriving at a fantastic final product.

  • Business

  • Licensing

    • Ex-Sun open source honcho: Sorry about that TCK license, Apache!

      Among the many high-level Sun people leaving the merged Oracle-Sun conglomerate is Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps, who announced his departure on his blog last week. (Side note: Is Chief X Officer the new Vice President? They sure seem to be proliferating!) It was the sort of expected combo of pride and wistful regrets, and (as is probably the intent) it’s not that easy to tell whether he’s leaving voluntarily or not. Still, the most interesting bit, as one might expect, was one of his regrets, offered in passing: “I’m sad that Apache did not get the TCK license they requested.”

    • On the fall and rise of the GNU GPL

      If we assume that Web applications and cloud computing played a significant role in the proportional decline of the GPLv2, we would expect to see a significant rise in the use of the AGPLv3. While the use of the AGPLv3 has indeed risen 16% between June 2009 and today, in real terms the rise is from 198 projects to 231 – still an insignificant amount compared to the GPLv2.

    • Is Your Support of Copyleft Logically Consistent?

      Obviously, I don’t believe in angels myself. But, Clarence’s (admittedly naïve) logic is actually impeccable: Either you believe in angels or you don’t. If you believe in angels, then you shouldn’t be surprised to (at least occasionally) see one.

      This film quote came to my mind in reference to a concept in GPL enforcement. Many people give lip service to the idea that the GPL, and copyleft generally, is a unique force that democratizes software and ensures that FLOSS cannot be exploited by proprietary software interests. Many of these same people, though, oppose GPL enforcement when companies exploit GPL’d code and don’t give the source code and take away users’ rights to modify and share that software.

  • Openness

    • SXSW: Shirky’s New Opportunities in Public Sharing

      Today social technology theorist Clay Shirky delivered a fitting counterpoint to Danah Boyd’s keynote on privacy at SXSW the day before. Where Boyd spoke of the danger of making information more public than users intended it, Shirky talked about new opportunities for sharing information online and elsewhere.

    • Shirky: Napster tapped into our primate instincts

      New York University professor Clay Shirky thinks he’s getting old, or in other words, “my average age has been going up at the alarming rate of about one year per year.” Recently, he said, he had to explain Napster to a class of his students because they were too young to have known much about the groundbreaking music-sharing service in its heyday.

    • estimating ullage

      Ullage, the word for the empty space at the top of a wine bottle, is Peter Suber’s term for the gap between a library’s actual holdings and its patrons’ access needs. That’s a difficult thing to measure, but I might have found a way to estimate it with reference not to patron needs but to all published journals, as follows.

    • Making Public Information Available Online: Rep. Israel Introduces the Public Online Information Act

      Today, Representative Steve Israel introduced the Public Online Information Act, which if enacted would free a vast treasure trove of government information. All too often, information that the law requires be publicly available is hidden behind stone walls and paper barriers. POIA tears down these walls by:

      * Requiring Executive Branch agencies to publish publicly available information on the Internet in a timely fashion and in user-friendly formats.
      * Creating a multi-branch advisory committee to develop government-wide Internet publication guidelines.

    • Transparency Is Trending

      This week is Sunshine Week, a lot of people are very excited and are taking the time to write about why open government is important to them. Here are just a few of the great posts people are writing, explaining why transparency is important.

    • Battle of the Opens

      So here—free, gratis, libre, and open—is a brief, simplistic guide to several flavors of open, organized around the following questions:

      * What is the target of this movement? What is being made open? As compared to what?
      * What legal regimes are implicated?
      * How does openness happen? What are the major variants of open works of this type?

    • Open Sourcing A Disease Diagnosis

      If you follow Larry Lessig on Twitter, you noticed that all day Monday he was putting messages on Twitter about how “JZ” was sick and was trying to “open source” his diagnosis.

  • Programming

    • GCC 4.5 Is Still Not Ready For Release

      With GCC 4.5 the MPC library has been integrated to evaluate complex arithmetic at compile time more accurately, a new link-time optimizer has been added, automatic parallelization can be enabled as part of Graphite, improved experimental support for C++0x, Windows improvements with Cygwin and MinGW, and many other changes.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Public review of “The State of ODF Interoperability”

      The initial “State of ODF Interoperability” report has now gone out for public review. It is a baseline report, surveying the context of document interoperability, the sources of interoperability problems as well the ways in which these problems are being addressed. Although it explicitly deals with ODF interoperability, much of the report is equally relevant to any other office document format, XML-based or binary.

    • Time to Learn from China on Open Standards?

      One of the major battles under way in Europe is over open standards. As its name suggests, an open standard is one that is open to all, without restrictions or obstacles; anything less than that is just window-dressing.

      In particular, if any part of the standard is encumbered with patents, these must be available on a royalty-free basis: “Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory (RAND)” is not good enough, since RAND licences with non-zero fees, however minute, *do* discriminate against open source using licences like the GNU GPL.

Leftovers

  • AirStash brings the WiFi, neglects the storage, for a cent under $100

    When we last saw the AirStash, it was keeping its mystique about it and refusing to disclose any salient details beyond the fact that it’ll function as a wireless SD/SDHC card reader. Today, the fog of war is lifted with the news that the AirStash is now officially on sale for $99.99, and will come with a battery good for five hours of continuous data streaming.

  • New York Cabs Gouged Riders Out of Millions

    About 3,000 New York City taxi drivers routinely overcharged riders over two years by surreptitiously fixing their meters to charge rates that would normally apply only to trips outside the five boroughs, according to the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission.

  • NSFW: ‘Tis Pity We Called Her A Whore – And Other Ineffectual Digital Apologies

    A few days later, another UK paper – The Daily Mail – ran a story headlined “I posed as a girl of 14 on Facebook. What followed will sicken you …” The story was indeed sickening; written by a former police detective, it revealed how after signing up to Facebook as a young girl, he was immediately contacted by middle-aged men looking for sex. There was just one problem with the story: it wasn’t true.

    For a start the story was ghost-written by a Mail journalist, loosely based on a phone interview with the detective. More importantly, the detective had made clear – repeatedly – that the social network in question wasn’t Facebook. In fact he’d actually praised Facebook for having put in place measures to protect young users against ‘grooming’ by adults. Unfortunately, the Mail seems to have a beef with Facebook – they previously accused the site of causing cancer – and so decided to name and shame it both in the article, and in the headline and – yup – in the URL. As with Zoe’s story, the headline was changed after a few hours (having already been widely syndicated) but the libellous URL remained uncorrected for more than a day.

  • Over half your news is spin

    Today Crikey launches an investigation six months in the making. Spinning the Media is an investigation in conjunction with the University of Technology (UTS) Sydney into the role PR plays in making the media.

  • Science

    • It is time to geek the vote

      There has been a huge push to put “the s word” – science – at the heart of political debate in the run-up to the UK general election.

  • Security

    • The amazing true story of Zeitoun

      Abdulrahman Zeitoun is the real-life hero of Dave Eggers’s new book. In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina he paddled from house to house in a canoe, offering help to his neighbours. For his trouble, he was arrested as a suspected terrorist

    • Dear People For Supporter,

      Progressives and conservatives alike are slamming one of the most blatantly McCarthyist attacks yet. People For the American Way released a report several months ago on the rise of what we called the New McCarthyism. Clearly, that trend is growing.

      An attack ad by Liz Cheney, archconservative daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Bill Kristol, Head Cheerleader for the Iraq War, brands Eric Holder’s DOJ the “Department of Jihad” for employing nine lawyers who represented detainees and asks of these lawyers: “whose values do they share?” The ad, produced by Cheney and Kristol’s new Swift Boat-style front group, “Keep America Safe,” labels seven then-unidentified DOJ lawyers “The Al Qaeda 7.”

    • Jihad Jamie: Racial profiling under scrutiny after second white Islamist arrested

      Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, 31, a nursing student from Colorado, was detained in Ireland in connection with an alleged conspiracy to kill a Swedish cartoonist. News of her arrest came days after Colleen LaRose, 46, of suburban Philadelphia, was named in a federal indictment for her alleged role in the plot against Lars Vilks, who had offended many Muslims with his portrayal of the prophet Muhammad as a dog.

    • UK ‘ignoring’ systemic evidence of torture among asylum seekers

      Torture survivors seeking sanctuary in Britain are being wrongly held in government detention centres, despite independent medical evidence supporting claims of brutal violence against them in their home countries.

    • ID cards have three databases, says minister

      Following reports that the IPS had scrapped plans to store biographical information on the Department for Work and Pensions’ database, Hillier said that the controversial scheme has three databases. “There is the one that holds the fingerprints and facial image, the biometric data, and then the other information which is broadly what is on your passport already and the third bit is the one that links the two,” she said.

  • Environment

    • Waiter, There Is Toxic Sludge in my Organic Soup!

      Fifteen years ago, the Center for Media and Democracy in my book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You first exposed the deceptive PR campaign by the municipal sewage industry that has renamed toxic sewage sludge as “biosolids” to be spread on farms and gardens. Unfortunately, the scam continues to fool more people than ever, even in San Francisco which is often dubbed the country’s greenest city.

    • The five-year race to save India’s vanishing tigers

      It is always the same, says Dharmendra Khandal, toying with a heavy iron skinning knife as he recounts the story. Khandal is sitting in the offices of Tiger Watch on the edge of the national park, one of the most popular tiger reserves in India. He spreads his palms in frustration. The government’s forestry department is always the last to act, he says, though it is its job to protect the tigers.

    • Save the Elephants: STOP BLOODY IVORY
    • When Crime Pays: How the EU subsidises illegal fishing

      Fishsubsidy.org today publishes a list of 42 convictions of fishing vessel owners that have also received EU subsidies under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The study, which focuses on two major EU fishing nations, Spain and France, involves matching records of court convictions with data on EU fisheries subsidy payments. Between them, the 36 law-breaking vessels received 13,510,418 euro in EU subsidies between 1994 and 2006.

    • Marking World Water Day, March 22, 2010

      World Water Day 2010 is Monday, March 22nd. This year’s theme is “Communicating Water Quality Challenges and Opportunities,” and is aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of water quality. One way to help stand up for clean water is to sign on to Food & Water Watch’s petition aimed at strengthening America’s public water supply. You can also help “take back the tap,” if you have not done so already, and learn more about the environmental and economic impact of choosing tap water over bottled water.

    • China defends detention of lead poisoning victims who sought medical help

      Children at a village near the Wugang manganese smelting plant in Hunan province on 22 August, 2009. Hundreds of children in the province are suffering from suspected lead poisoning caused by the local factory. Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/AFP

  • Finance

    • Billions at stake as derivatives debate splits US and European regulators

      To European officials, financial derivatives are dangerous weapons that worsened its debt crisis and should be curbed.

    • The Good the Bad and the Ugly in the Dodd Bill

      Usually a draft like this sets the high water mark. With 1,500 bank lobbyists on the hill and $390 billion spent on finance industry lobbying in 2009, the public will need to weigh in to fix the problems that do exist in the bill and hold off provisions that will make the bill worse.

    • Financial Podcast Buys A Toxic Asset To See How It Works

      Literally, the four reporters on the team, along with their producer, each pooled about $200 of their own money, in order to buy $1,000 worth of toxic asset. They’ll be tracking whether or not they make their money back, and if they make anything on top of that as well (any profits will be donated to charity). The podcast itself is fascinating, as two of the reporters spend a couple days with a company called Mission Peak Capital, based out in Kansas, which has been analyzing and buying up toxic assets. They go through the whole process of analyzing and bidding on a few of these things until they find the one they wanted. Mission Peak bought the whole asset for $36,000, marked down from $2.7 million, and then sold a $1,000 sliver to the team at Planet Money.

    • In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt

      One fast-growing American industry has become a conspicuous beneficiary of the recession: for-profit colleges and trade schools.

    • Lewis Faults ‘Short-Term Greedy,’ Cites Goldman: Interview

      Michael Lewis made a name for himself on Wall Street by writing about it. His 1989 book, “Liar’s Poker,” exposed the inner workings of Salomon Brothers, a firm then at the peak of its power, and described his improbable run as a bond salesman there.

    • Goldies, Greece and Lehman’s Repo 105

      A standard repo, or repurchase agreement, is a form of secured loan. They’re fairly straightforward affairs. In exchange for a financial asset – usually a highly secure government or state government bond – one party will make a cash loan to another party (with the financial asset as security).

      That means the lender’s exposure is not directly to the borrower, but to the issuer of the underlying security. So the associated interest rate on the loan is lower than it would be if the money were lent on an unsecured basis to the borrower.

      [...]

      As Michael Lewitt, an astute bond fund manager and commentator, observed in the latest edition of The HCM Market Letter, “Goldman Sachs entered damage control mode and dispatched the highly respected Gerald Corrigan, a former President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Chairman of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, to tell a UK parliamentary committee that ‘with the benefit of hindsight … the standards of transparency could have been and probably should have been higher’.”

    • Tweeting against Goldman Sachs

      The real Lucas van Praag is renowned throughout the financial press as arrogant, caustic, and in possession of a very large vocabulary — traits that normally aren’t considered desirable public relations attributes. But this is Goldman Sachs we’re talking about, so until recently, van Praag may have seemed like a good fit for a company whose CEO seems convinced that earning billions of dollars while helping to engineer the greatest financial collapse in the history of humanity is equivalent to doing “God’s work.”

      The fake Lucas van Praag is just funny. To wit:

      @thattwerptaibbi. Stop hounding me! Yes, it’s true. $GS funded Kate Gosselin’s makeover AND bought CDS against her performance on DWTS.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Ari Emanuel: Did he mention lobbying the President or the Vice President?

      According to Josh Gerstein of Politico, Ari Emanuel claims he was misquoted, and was in fact referring to the “vice President.” KEI’s first take: Ari Emanuel’s quote was widely discussed on twitter and blogs, and Ari was embarrassed at his indiscretion, which suggests Rahm Emanuel’s brother is lobbying the president directly.

    • 2010: The Year of the Corporate Candidate?

      After the Supreme Court declared that corporations have the same rights as individuals when it comes to funding political campaigns, the self-described progressive firm, Murray Hill, Inc., took what it considers the next logical step: running for office in Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.

    • Millions Spent to Sway Democrats on Health Care

      The yearlong legislative fight over health care is drawing to a frenzied close as a multimillion-dollar wave of advertising that rivals the ferocity of a presidential campaign takes aim at about 40 House Democrats whose votes will help determine the fate of President Obama’s top domestic priority.

      The coalition of groups opposing the legislation, led by the United States Chamber of Commerce, is singling out 27 Democrats who supported the health care bill last year and 13 who opposed it. The organizations have already spent $11 million this month focusing on these lawmakers, with more spending to come before an expected vote next weekend.

    • “Texas Tea” Party: Dick Armey Distorts History, Again

      It is no liberal college professor conspiracy; it is a fact. Hamilton strongly favored a strong federal government with almost king-like powers for the president — that’s why Hamilton has often been cited by Bush lawyer, John Yoo, as his inspiration for virtually unlimited powers for the national executive.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Judge rules in satirical Web site’s favor

      A Web site that satirizes news can run a fictional story about a giraffe attack at Global Wildlife Center in Folsom, a state district judge ruled Monday.

      After a two-hour hearing, state District Judge Beth Wolfe struck down a temporary restraining order signed March 2 that had called for the removal of the story from the site, Hammond Action News.

    • Encyclopedia Dramatica Owner May Face Charges Down Under… Despite Not Being In Australia

      But it turns out that the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) is upset about a “deliberately offensive article about Aborigines,” and is threatening to take the site’s operator, Joseph Evers, to court. The thing is, the stuff on Encyclopedia Dramatica are deliberately offensive to pretty much everyone. That’s the point. But the nice thing about the internet is that if you don’t like that sort of thing, you can avoid it. Furthermore, Evers is in the US and isn’t breaking any US laws.

    • Joshua Newton: Variety’s Tim Gray Is ‘Lying Through His Nose’

      Joshua Newton, the producer and director of “Iron Cross,” has sued Variety for fraud and breach of contract over a negative review of his film that he claims undermined a $400,000 advertising campaign orchestrated by the trade. Grilled by Sharon Waxman, he accuses Variety editor Tim Gray of lying, and says publisher Neil Stiles told him he planned to end all reviews in 2010. Asked for a response, Gray had no comment and Stiles did not respond to an email.

  • China

    • Full Text of Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009

      China’s Information Office of the State Council published a report titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009″ here Friday. Following is the full text:

      The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 on March 11, 2010, posing as “the world judge of human rights” again. As in previous years, the reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009 is prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States.

    • The US is turning human rights into a farce

      No country in this world has impeccable records on human rights. Therefore, it should be healthy for governments of different countries to exchange ideas on human rights if the intention of these exchanges is to improve human rights performance in this world.However, the routine US reports on different country’s human rights records are gradually turning the noble concept of human rights into a big farce as it engaged two deadly wars, causing lives of innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • Letter Offers Glimpse Into Fall-Out If Google Goes

      China’s state-run broadcaster, China Central Television, published on its Web site Tuesday the text of a letter, claiming it was sent from a group of 27 Google advertising resellers to John Liu, who leads Google’s sales team and oversees the company’s business operations in greater China. (Read the WSJ’s translation of the full text of the letter here.)

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Charlie Angus Set To Propose Canadian MP3 Player Levy

      Music industry sources say Canadian Member of Parliament Charlie Angus, the NDP’s digital issues critic, is preparing to enter a private member’s bill next week proposing the country’s private copying levy should be extended to MP3 players.

      The levy is currently in place on other blank media, but attempts to extend it to MP3 players have failed in the past. The discussion of the levy came at the same time Canadian music industry insiders at Canadian Music Week were focused on the possibility of a new Copyright Act for Canada, after support for intellectual property was referenced in the Conservative government’s throne speech last week.

    • Want To Link To Royal Mail? You Better Not Be In A Hurry

      If you ever read terms of use pages for websites, you know that they are mostly boilerplate. Unfortunately whatever template all these businesses seem to be sharing makes some ridiculous assertions, perhaps the worst of which is a provision against hyperlinking to the site without written permission.

    • Postal service chief: Our business model as outdated as the newspaper industry’s

      The head of the U.S. Postal Service said Thursday that his organization’s business model is as outdated as the newspaper industry’s.

    • Jaron Lanier Says That Musicians Using Free To Succeed Are Lying

      What a bizarre statement, considering just how many real life examples we see every day of musicians successfully embracing an understanding of basic economics (which Lanier apparently lacks). I was trying to better understand how Lanier could make such an easily debunked statement with a straight face, and it’s not clear at all. It appears that Lanier is the one who is pretending here.

    • In Defense Of 1,000 True Fans – Part VII – Ellis Paul – 300 Fans = $100,000 in Contributions The Ultimate Testament to Fan Loyalty

      Ellis Paul is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. To date, he has released 16 albums and has been the recipient of 14 Boston Music Awards. He has published a book of original lyrics, poems, and drawings, and released a DVD that includes a live performance, guitar instruction, and a road-trip documentary. As a touring musician, Ellis plays close to 150 dates each year and his extensive club and coffeehouse touring, together with radio airplay, has brought him a solid national following.

    • Heroes Producer: Honored To Be The Most Unauthorized Downloaded Show

      This talk was given by Tim Kring, creator of the popular TV show Heroes, and he made some interesting points — noting that he’s “honored” that Heroes is the most “illegally” downloaded TV show out there, because “we’ll take audience anywhere we can get it.” But he’s not just sitting back.

    • Dan Bull Recaps How Home Taping Killed Music With His Latest Song
    • Linking to P2P content declared legal in Spain

      This is an important and interesting ruling. I tend to agree with the linking part of the reasoning, but I completely disagree with the argument presented by the judge with regards to P2P networks. The judge uses some paper-thin arguments here to imply that P2P networks are not illegal, that they are here to stay anyway so what is the problem, and that almost nothing taking place in those networks can be enforced. I would be surprised if SGAE does not appeal the ruling.

    • File-Sharing and Link Sites Declared Legal in Spain

      After early calls to shut down a Spanish file-sharing site were dismissed, music group SGAE pinned its hopes on success at the full trial. But, the outcome for them was nothing short of a disaster. The judge declared that both non-commercial file-sharing link sites and non-profit use of P2P networks are legal in Spain.

    • Vive Le Rapidshare – Is A New French Revolution Afoot?

      Now half a year old, a study from the University of Rennes researched 2,000 users in Brittany about their downloading habits before and after Hadopi’s launch. The report found that P2P service use fell from 17.1 percent to 14.6 percent, but the piracy level in general actually went up 3 percent.

    • Music fans will sidestep filesharing clampdown says TalkTalk

      The majority of music fans will switch to alternative ways of accessing copyright-protected content for free if using peer-to-peer (P2P) services leaves them vulnerable to disconnection, rendering futile the Government’s attempts to stop copyright infringement.
      That’s according to new research from TalkTalk, the biggest provider of broadband to Britain’s homes.

    • Spotifies Mean Online Now Filling UK’s CD Royalty Gap

      One part of the music business has finally reached the fabled tipping point at which digital income offsets declining physical sales.

    • Two solicitors accused over file-sharing ‘bully tactics’

      The Solicitors Regulation Authority has referred two solicitors from London firm Davenport Lyons to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal over claims that the firm sent ‘bullying’ letters accusing hundreds of people of illegal file-sharing.

      Consumer group Which? complained to the SRA in 2008 that Davenport Lyons partner David Gore and former partner Brian Miller had engaged in ‘bullying’ and ‘excessive’ conduct, while acting on behalf of client copyright holders.

    • ACTA/Digital Economy Bill

      • Why I Bother Acting on ACTA

        Well, the fact that two years ago very few had heard of ACTA, whereas today many people know and care about it, is sufficient reason to carry on: it does make a difference, and people are starting to realise how serious this is. Moreover, hints like this suggest that making noise, even in that notorious echo-chamber that is the blogosphere, gets noticed in rarefied and exalted regions of power:

        Recent informations have revealed to me that the worldwide anti-ACTA campaign is having an impact on EU officials, a number of which are following closely the highlights of the most well-known blogs and webs. This is a sign of the success of an effective public campaign that has forced the EU out of its bunker and into the open battlefield over the content of this important international agreement.

      • Written Declaration 12/2010 signatories list
      • UK copyright law to be changed ‘without scrutiny’

        A major change to UK copyright law is likely to be introduced and debated within the space of one hour on the last day of the current parliament, according to Labour MP Tom Watson.

        Watson said the lack of time available for parliamentary discussion before the general election — expected to be on 6 May — means the Digital Economy Bill will skip the weeks of scrutiny usually given to complex legislation.

        “This is a fiendishly complex piece of legislation, and it therefore requires proper and adequate scrutiny,” Watson said to ZDNet UK on Tuesday. “At the moment, it looks like it will get a day’s second reading where [MPs] talk about the general principles of the bill, then it’ll be banged through in an hour on the last day of Parliament.”

      • Fight to Save the Net by UK Liberal Democrats

        Even if you are not in the UK, the UK LibDems fight to Save the Net matters. A LibDem emergency motion opposing copyright measures to block the Internet which are currently going through the UK Parliament is to be debated at their conference tomorrow.

        [...]

        A UK LibDems Save the Net Facebook page has been started to gather support. It is open to all, even non-Party members, and non-UK residents. The point of it is to let the UK government – and other EU governments – know how much people want to keep the Internet open, and how much they oppose blocking it:

        “This group needs proof that millions of people like you care about the Net so that they can convince the UK Government, or indeed any government, not to block websites or disconnect people from the Net by law. Wherever you are in the world, become a fan and show that the Net matters to you. ”

        And they explain that they have set up the page because: “The UK’s Labour Government thinks people in the UK wants them to control the Net. It’s trying to push through Lord Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill before the UK elections in May/June. The UK’s Conservative Opposition seems to agree with them. The UK Lib Dems are the only mainstream party which is trying to stop them. ”

      • Well done Lib Dems: now ask what your candidates think

        Not a single speaker made any comment against the text – and Liberal Democrats reiterated their opposition to the closed ACTA negotiations. They emphasised the huge social, educational and economic value of the net today.

      • Third Reading DEB

        Very happy to note that the Liberal Democrats, with some input from lobby groups including independent academics such as myself, Francis Davey and Simon Bradshaw, have tabled amendments today which alleviate the worst excesses of amendment 120a. Good to see that even in the time-compressed framework of the run up to the general election, a party can still speedily take account both of external criticisms and its own grassroots and party concerns. I would still rather see both am 120a and clause 17 (now 18) go, since both raise dangers of fundamentally interfering with due process, proper scrutiny and civil liberties; but if not that, this is a step forward. Now let’s see what happens today.

      • The Day Democracy Died: DEB

        The Lib Dem amendments I mentioned in my previous posts – alongside some equally sensible amendments designed in particular to stop every search engine being blocked under clause 18 – were rejected by the Government this afternoon in the Lords, on what appeared to be legally spurious grounds, to the clear dismay and disquiet of the Lords.

        Shortly thereafter it appears some kind of deal was done whereby the Government announced they would bring forward unspecified changes to the disputed clause 18 at “wash up” – the pre election stage where legislation is pushed through with no opportunity for MPs to propose amendments or even , perhaps, make comments in debate, let alone scrutinise. It seems all opportunity for democratic amendment to the Bill has now come to an end.

        [...]

        There is one way forward for here for democratic scrutiny to be restored, and that is for MPs to demand a debate at the Commons stage of the Bill and refuse to allow this messed up mockery of legislation to pass on the nod. Write to your MP and demand this. Go on one of the rallies and flash mobs planned for next week by ORG. Write to the BPI and tell then that you did not vote for them to run the country. Make your voice heard.

      • Yesterday in the Lords: DEB
      • UK Lords Pass Digital Economy Bill, Now Look To Rush It Through Commons

Clip of the Day

Home Taping is Killing Music

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