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12.09.10

Links 9/12/2010: Up to Another 1.5 Million GNU/Linux Laptops in Brazil, Mageia Gets Official Logo, Dell and Red Hat Grow Closer

Posted in News Roundup at 7:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Brazil plans large GNU/Linux deployment

    The number of PCs deployed is likely to be as much as 1.5 million, making it one of the biggest deployments of GNU/Linux.

  • Linux without a command line. Is it possible?

    I have to admit. I do like the command line and one of my favourite programs is Tilda. A drop down shell which allows me to run commands quicker than any mouse happy click lover. More often than not I run a quick command to do file operations, system operations and remote connections. It’s not pretty, all text and no fancy eye candy but it gets the job done, fast.

    However, many proponents of proprietary operating systems ridicule us Linux lovers for our command line commando ways and maintain that it is not possible to use Linux without having to write a command line or two. I have always said pshaw to that and two seconds later found myself immersed in a bash shell. I put it down to my habits and choice of Linux (Gentoo) as well as knowing too much for my own good :)

    [...]

    So I have at least proven to myself, eaten my own dog food :) that Linux can be used in exactly the same way most people use other operating systems without having to fire up a command line. This was done not on a normal run of the mill pc either. This was done on exotic hardware which if there was going to be a problem, there would have been a problem.

  • TV show promoting Linux in schools!

    We have an opportunity to introduce a mainstream TV audience to the great stuff that Linux can do in schools, but we need 25 Linux enthusiasts to commit to show up in order to accomplish it.

    I just spoke with a program manager for a TV show called ABC 7 Live. They are interested in having supporters of Linux in schools (and particularly Partimus.org) attend a show. The show airs daily from 3 pm to 4 pm. I need a list of 25 people who will attend. I need the list by Thursday, 12/9/10 at 3 pm. You must be on the list to be admitted to the studio. I am coordinating the list, so please be sure to email me to get on the list. You can email me at einfeldt a t gmail dot com. You can watch shows from the archive here

    http://7liveonline.com

    They have had famous people like Mark Zuckerberg on this show.

  • Linux: Tux Goes to Church

    Of course that “free” system is Linux. Usually some local system builder will be glad to build systems and preload Linux for a church. That same local system builder can likely provide support if asked. Any Linux distribution could serve as a good base on which a church could build its IT operations. On the desktop I would still recommend Mandriva despite its roller coaster history. Mandriva is a very easy to learn, user-friendly Linux distribution. It has easy GUI tools in the Mandriva Control Center to help the Linux novice get started with setup of a Linux system. At this point I would recommend the Gnome desktop for end-users coming from Microsoft that need a full-blown GUI to be comfortable. Once KDE 4.x is back to being at least as good as KDE 3.5.10 I may recommend that again. But I do not recommend KDE at this point.

  • Server

    • Digging Into The Top500

      The Top500 is the favorite punching bag of many people in HPC. My beef is not with the Top500, it is with all those who make it out to be something it is not. In my opinion, it is good historical record of those machines that can run a single benchmark. There is of course certain bragging rights for landing on the Top500 and it may help people justify an expensive pile of hardware. I suppose getting your system listed on a web page is good thing™, but there are those who have real work to get done and can brag about minor things like application throughput, optimization, and utilization.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Google

    • Google Chrome OS: what you need to know

      The long-awaited Chrome OS is finally here, and the first Chrome notebooks are winging their way to happy beta testers as you read this.

      So is it the operating system reinvented, or just a nifty way to squeeze more speed out of laptops?

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Canonical Donates Server to KDE

        KDE is a growing community with growing needs. The KDE Sysadmin team works hard to keep up, but lately the servers have been coming under some strain.

        To help ease the situation, Canonical has donated a new server for the KDE Sysadmins to use. The server, named kundong, features an impressive 8 CPU cores, 6 GB of memory, and a 130 GB disk with space for several more disks as needed. It is hosted in Canonical’s data center in central London.

      • 7 Ways to Beautify Your KDE 4 Desktop

        Part of the big hype over the release of KDE 4 was its new and improved eye candy, mostly due to the Plasma workspace. Those who liked the changes, loved the new KDE from the beginning. Those who did not are still complaining about it. But like any good desktop environment, you are by no means stuck with the default look. In fact, KDE offers more easily customizable features than any other. What follows are 7 ways to get the desktop look you dreamed about when you were a child.

      • KDE 4.6 Beta: Finding New Directions

        Many of the changes in the beta are of interest mainly to developers and not directly observable to casual users, although the changes may affect development in future releases.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • 13 Breathtaking Conky Configurations You Should See!

        Though we used to talk a lot about Ubuntu desktop eyecandy, Conky is something we never really discussed at all. Conky Ubuntu Lucid theme was the only exception, which is by far the most easy to install Conky theme I have ever used. So as to settle the Conky drought once and for all, here we feature one of the best collection of Conky configurations available.

      • Cheese webcam gets some crazy new effects

        Take a peek at some crazy new video effects coming to the Cheese webcam tool in this video by GNOME developers Daniel Siegel & Andreas Nilsson.

    • Xfce

  • Distributions

    • ‘Tis the Season for Rolling Releases

      Yes, there must be something about this time of year that has made tongues more likely to wag and Linux bloggers more likely to think about daily updates. How else to explain the recent rash of rumors and discussions on the topic of release schedules for certain popular Linux distros?

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia Has an Official Logo

        After months of careful consideration, lots of contributions, and a set process, the Mageia project has decided upon a logo. Some may find it a bit understated, while other may find it offensive. In any case, the new bubbling cauldron is it.

        There were so many beautiful entries in contention for the new face of Mageia, but this simple design prevailed. The winning entry was submitted by Olivier Faurax. He says of the winning logo, “The cauldron with bubbles could imply magic – not really a theme to attract most potential users. Or it could refer to the development process – a sort of inside joke, which wouldn’t be understood by most without explanation.”

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst to Speak at Economy Forum “The Road to Prosperity: Jobs for the Next Generation”
      • Red Hat: Making a Move, Up 2.6% (RHT)

        Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) is one of today’s notable stocks on the rise, up 2.6% to $48.15.

      • Dell and Red Hat Strengthen their Partnership with RHEL 6.0

        Dell is proud to announce the launch of OEM support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 (RHEL 6) which is certified on 9G, 10G, and 11G Dell servers and is an excellent complement to Dell’s open standards-based strategy. RHEL 6 provides customers with a proven, scalable, manageable and reliable open standards-based operating system that delivers even more compelling reasons for customers to migrate off of proprietary, UNIX-based systems.

      • Red Hat Delivers New JBoss Business Rules Management System

        JBoss Enterprise BRMS 5.1 is the latest piece of the Red Hat open-source middleware portfolio, JBoss Enterprise Middleware, and the first new release of the JBoss BRMS since May 2009. The new release brings additional authoring and management tools for use by business analysts and developers, said Pierre Fricke, director of product line management for middleware at Red Hat, in an interview with eWEEK.

      • Fedora

        • Distro Hoppin`: Fedora 14

          I found Laughlin to be the most stable and solid version of Fedora I’ve tried in years.

        • Why automatically push to rawhide?

          One of the things that bothers me about Fedora development is that things automatically end up anywhere after being built. I’m a big believer in having to do something to put software in the hands of users, even if they are running a development distribution, and even if they should “be able to fix whatever breaks”. Today, if you build something in rawhide, it’ll land on user machines tomorrow (in the default case). This applies especially if you do a “known good” build and then do “just one more” before the early morning hours when the mirrors get updated with today’s version.

    • Debian Family

      • Making the Switch to Linux: Some Debian-based Recommendations

        Two years ago today my family made the switch from Windows to Ubuntu. This wasn’t an overnight decision, and it wasn’t without complications. At the time we only had one desktop in our home (now we have a couple of laptops as well) and I intended to set it up to dual-boot. Unfortunately, what I didn’t know was that the version of BIOS on the desktop didn’t recognize USB connections, so it wouldn’t respond to keystrokes from the USB keyboard. And no, there was no other type of port available. By late that evening a couple of years ago we were set up with Ubuntu 8.10 fully installed on our family desktop. Although I did install Windows in Virtualbox for my son’s games, other than that we’ve been an Ubuntu-only household since then.

      • SimplyMEPIS 11.0 Alpha TEST 4 Uploaded for Testing

        Alpha 4 is available. This is a test release not a production release. It is intended for MEPIS Testers only. The ISO files are: SimplyMEPIS-DVD-TEST_10.9.82_32.iso and SimplyMEPIS-DVD-TEST_10.9.82_64.iso

      • Debian Project News – December 8th, 2010

        A new update for Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 “Lenny” has been released. Due to an issue with the preparation, the linux-2.6 packages included in this point release do not incorporate the security fixes released in DSA 2110-1. DSA 2126-1, which has just been released, includes the updates from both DSA 2110-1 and the linux-2.6 packages from this point release. All other recent security updates have been added as well as some fixes for critical issues. New CD and DVD images as well as update CDs and DVDs are available.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Video Of Current Unity

          Today I recorded a short screencast that showcases some of the excellent work going into Unity and that is available in the Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal developer version of Ubuntu.

        • Ubuntu Unity Desktop Review

          A few days ago I decided to upgrade my desktop Ubuntu OS from 10.10(Maverick Meerkat) to 11.04(Natty Narwal) Alpha 1. Previous experience upgrading to such an early alpha release told me that this would be very risky and likely I would have to re-install back to the stable release. But after the lengthy upgrade process was completed(took a few hours because I had Gnome, KDE, and LXDE desktop environments previously installed), I successfully rebooted and was greeted with the familiar GDM login screen.

        • Looking at Ubuntu Brainstorm: Idea #25801

          The Ubuntu Technical Board is currently conducting a review of the top ten Brainstorm issues users have raised about Ubuntu, and Matt asked me to investigate Idea #25801: Help the user understand when closing a window does not terminate the app. In other words, figure out to signal to the user that an application will continue to run after all of its windows have been closed.

          This is more than a good idea, it’s an important gap in the usability of most of the desktop operating systems in widespread use today.

          It’s also come up in our user testing: Charline’s research on Unity identified a lack of feedback to users and she observed the same absence of good feedback in the Rythmbox interface, where Rhythmbox can continue running in the background, playing music, with no windows visible.

        • Ubuntu Certified To Linux Standard Base 4.0

          All the leading commercial Linux companies are certified to Linux Standard Base 4.0 (LSB 4.0), including Canonical, Kylin, Linpus, Mandriva, Neoshine, Novell, Oracle, Red Flag and Red Hat.

          The Linux Foundation has also released a beta of the LSB 4.1 and is soliciting feedback from the public. The official release of LSB 4.1 is expected in January. The LSB delivers interoperability between applications and the Linux operating system, allowing application developers to target multiple versions of Linux with just one software package. It also allows Linux vendors to demonstrate to their customers that they meet a common set of industry standards and that they work together as an industry on advancing Linux.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Kinect-powered helicopter is completely autonomous

      Yes, this helicopter has a Kinect on board, one that’s connected to a Linux box.

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • Android Doesn’t Create Value For Us: Nokia

          Prepare yourself for an all new Nokia experience in 2011. Nokia’s Director of Design Strategy Marko Ahtisaari said that Nokia is planning to launch devices based on a completely new approach to its UI and will be built on Meego. But, Ahtisaari did not not to give any details about the devices which are awaiting us. Ahtisaari revealed this at the LeWeb conference in Paris.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Technology To Aid The Disabled

    The technology that drives the ‘wheel’ Mehta, an ex-employee of Siemens AG, is a vociferous supporter of open source platforms. He developed the tool, christened ‘Arpit’s Wheel’, using simple computing hardware and FOSS (free and open-source software) tools and frameworks, which later bagged him the Manthan Award in 2008 in the e-inclusion category.

  • Oracle

  • BSD

    • PC-BSD snapshots available: 8.2 and 9.0

      Kris Moore has announced two snapshots of PC-BSD work-in-progress: version 8.2 and 9.0. Any feedback (positive and/or constructive) is welcome on the Testing Mailinglist.

Leftovers

  • A personal blog post for December – Xmas is almost here!

    Firstly, my thoughts are with my online friend (and co-host of Techbytes) Gordon, who’s under the weather at the moment and hope for a speedy recovery, certainly if he is absent from the show its going to leave a gap which will be noticeable to all the kind people who tell us they enjoy listening. If Gordon is absent I hope you will stick with us until he returns.

  • 2010 Gift Guide for Storage Geeks
  • SME Server: Simple. Mature. Enterprise.
  • U.S. Arrests Online Seller Who Scared Customers

    The merchant, Vitaly Borker, 34, who operates a Web site called decormyeyes.com, was charged with one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud, making interstate threats and cyberstalking. The mail fraud and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The stalking and interstate threats charges carry a maximum sentence of five years.

  • DIY fabrication hits a new price point (maybe…)

    Pretty much every geek who has ever drawn breath lusts after a “Star Trek”-style replicator. The advent of 3D printing and CNC machines, such as the MakerBot, have started to make that dream a reality. They offer the DIY enthusiast the ability to create pretty much anything their minds can imagine (and render in a CAD program). But for all but the most devoted hardware hackers, the current price points — between $800 and $1,000 for 3D printers, around $600 for a CNC machine — are a little too high for comfort.

  • EXCLUSIVE: New Lawsuit Seeks to Expose Truth Behind ‘Catfish’
  • Science

    • Secret Space Plane Finally Lands; Twin Preps for Launch

      After 225 days in orbit the Air Force’s mysterious X-37B space plane touched down Friday at 1:16 a.m. local time at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. It was only the second fully automated re-entry and runway landing in the history of space flight. The Soviets achieved the first in 1988 with the robotic prototype of their Buran Space Shuttle clone.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Foie Gras: a Disease, Not a Delicacy

      It persuaded British department store Harvey Nichols to remove foie gras from its fancy restaurant menu.s

    • Roger Moore Wins Foie Gras Battle With Top British Store

      James Bond star Sir Roger Moore is celebrating after persuading bosses at a British department store to remove foie gras from their fancy restaurant menu.

      Harvey Nichols chiefs were urged to take action by the former 007 actor as part of his campaign against the delicacy on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Let’s Stop Panicking Over Half-Assed Terrorists Already

      Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab couldn’t manage to blow up a plane over Detroit last Christmas, kicking off a year’s worth of high-profile terror-fails. But that hasn’t stopped the U.S. government from freaking out — putting naked scanners in airports and groping passengers. Overreactions like that compelled one of its senior-most counterterrorism officials yesterday to implore the public not to hand al-Qaeda victories from the jaws of defeat.

    • US spooks illegally check your credit cards

      SPIES WORKING FOR THE JUNTA of revolting British colonialists in the Americas have started illegally monitoring credit cards.

      According to documents obtained under the US Freedom of Information Act, federal law enforcement agencies have been tracking Americans in real-time using credit cards, loyalty cards and travel reservations. They have done all this without the nicety of getting a court order.

    • Some Sanity From Those In Power In The US Government, Concerning TSA Security & Wikileaks

      Similarly, Wired has an article highlighting how Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, is speaking more reasonably about anti-terrorism efforts and security as well, noting (as we have in the past) that “perfect security” is an impossible goal that is, itself, damaging to security.

      He points out that the US appears to be playing right into Al Qaeda’s hands by playing up each failed terrorist attempt and then overreacting to it, noting that (like internet trolls), a better response might be to just ignore them publicly, while continuing to do things quietly on the back end to protect the country.

    • The War on Cameras

      Reinoehl denied the request, but Allison’s promise to record the proceedings apparently came through loud and clear. Just after he walked through the courthouse door the next day, Allison says Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Kimbara Harrell asked him whether he had a tape recorder in his pocket. He said yes. Harrell then asked him if it was turned on. Allison said it was. Harrell then informed the defendant that he was in violation of the Illinois wiretapping law, which makes it a Class 1 felony to record someone without his consent. “You violated my right to privacy,” the judge said.

    • A nude awakening — TSA and privacy

      The odds of dying on an airplane as a result of a terrorist hijacking are less than 1 in 25 million — which, for all intents and purposes, is effectively zero — according to Paul Campos, a law professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    • UK govt demands an end to evidence-based drug policy

      A new proposal from the UK government will remove scientists from the advisory council that analyzes and makes recommendations on drug policy, and allow the home secretary to ignore the committee altogether and ban any substance for a year regardless of scientific evidence or advice.

    • “Going commando” on the TSA, redux: a kilt-wearer speaks

      So the big Thanksgiving airport opt-out opted-in after all. Widespread “regimental” kilt-wearing never materialized. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers were, by and large, spared a plague of True Scotsmen.

    • Homeland Security Gets Walmart To Tell You To Inform On Your Neighbors

      Sometimes you just wonder what folks in our government are thinking half the time. The latest is that Homeland Security, when it’s not busy seizing domains of hip hop blogs, is apparently on a campaign to enlist shoppers at Walmarts in a somewhat creepy attempt to get people to spy on their neighbors. The program is officially called “If You See Something, Say Something” which could be shortened to “Inform on Your Neighbors” if DHS is looking for efficiency.

  • Cablegate

    • Pakistani media publish fake WikiLeaks cables attacking India

      They read like the most extraordinary revelations. Citing the WikiLeaks cables, major Pakistani newspapers this morning carried stories that purported to detail eye-popping American assessments of India’s military and civilian leaders.

      According to the reports, US diplomats described senior Indian generals as vain, egotistical and genocidal; they said India’s government is secretly allied with Hindu fundamentalists; and they claimed Indian spies are covertly supporting Islamist militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt and Balochistan.

    • WikiLeaks supporters disrupt Visa and MasterCard sites in ‘Operation Payback’
    • UN rights boss concerned at targeting of WikiLeaks
    • Russia’s Putin raps West over Assange arrest
    • Why do I Support Wikileaks? Because I live in Africa!

      Living on a continent with such a chequered history of very repressive governments, I am fully aware of the importance of access to information by the everyday people.

    • Inside the mind of Julian Assange of Wikileaks!
    • Lieberman Introduces New Censorship Bill In Kneejerk Response To Wikileaks
    • Focus on the policy, not Wikileaks

      We may never know the whole story behind the recent publication of sensitive U.S. government documents by the Wikileaks organization, but we certainly can draw some important conclusions from the reaction of so many in government and media.

      At its core, the Wikileaks controversy serves as a diversion from the real issue of what our foreign policy should be. But the mainstream media, along with neoconservatives from both political parties, insist on asking the wrong question. When presented with embarrassing disclosures about U.S. spying and meddling, the policy that requires so much spying and meddling is not questioned. Instead, the media focus on how so much sensitive information could have been leaked, or how authorities might prosecute the publishers of such information.

    • Columbia University Reverses Anti-WikiLeaks Guidance

      Days after Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) caused an uproar by warning its students against linking to WikiLeaks or discussing the secret-spilling website’s latest cache of diplomatic cables online, the prestigious training ground for future diplomats has changed tack and embraced free speech.

      Last week, the SIPA Office of Career Services sent an e-mail to students saying that an alumnus who works at the U.S. State Department had recommended that current students not tweet or post links to WikiLeaks, which is in the process of releasing 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables — many of them classified — because doing so could hurt their career prospects in government service.

    • How US Copyright Expansionism Created The Infrastructure That Now Stymies US Gov’t In Stopping Wikileaks

      Glyn Moody points us to a blog post by Brendan Scott that lays out the basic fact that the distributed distribution tools that Wikileaks now relies on were mainly developed in response to constant copyright expansionism at the behest of the US government (on behalf of the entertainment industry).

    • Visa & MasterCard: KKK Is A-OK, But Wikileaks Is Wicked

      As Charles Arthur points out, the Ku Klux Klan’s website points you to a site that takes both MasterCard and Visa — suggesting the pure arbitrariness of both credit card companies’ decision here. It’s a bad idea when firms start making decisions for political reasons. There are all sorts of companies out there that take credit cards to support objectionable (to many) activities. Is it really the credit card companies’ job to pick and choose who they find objectionable to work with — and if so, what basis does it use for saying “KKK is okay, but Wikileaks is not”?

    • WikiLeaks cables: Pfizer used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout

      The world’s biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable.

      Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996.

    • Information is the Antidote to Fear: Wikileaks, the Law, and You

      Between the federal criminal investigation into Wikileaks, Senator Joe Lieberman’s calls for companies to stop providing support for Wikileaks and his suggestion that the New York Times itself should be criminally investigated, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed calling for prosecution of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and even the suggestion by some that he should be assassinated, a lot of people are scared and confused.

      Will I break the law if I host or mirror the US diplomatic cables that have been published by Wikileaks? If I view or download them? If I write a news story based on them? These are just a few of the questions we’ve been getting here at EFF, particularly in light of many US companies’ apparent fear to do any business with Wikileaks (with a few notable exceptions).

    • Wikipedia Editors Delete Article Listing WikiLeaks Mirror Sites

      Ever since whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks began its latest round of document releases, it has found opposition and support in various places. It has hopped around from server to server, had its bank account closed, watched as PayPal, Visa and Mastercard all shut down donations to the site, and even had an anonymous group of hackers retaliate in WikiLeaks’ name. One thing that keeps WikiLeaks going, however, is the simple fact that it has hundreds of mirror sites in different languages and locales.

      One such listing of these sites hosted on name-in-kind service Wikipedia has been deleted by the collaborative encyclopedia’s editors. Should we cry “Foul!” or is the deletion just more business as usual for the site?

    • NYT Reporter Defends Publishing WikiLeaks Cables

      Sanger is one of the Times reporters who sifted through the leaked WikiLeaks documents and has since written several articles about what the documents reveal about President Obama’s approach to diplomacy with Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, China and other nations.

      He explains that the newspaper’s editors and its lawyers had lengthy and deliberate conversations before deciding to publish some of the cables.

    • US State Department: ‘Assange must return stolen cables’

      US State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley has called for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to return the leaked US embassy cables, claiming they are “stolen property”.

    • Wikileaked: a foreign policy journal devoted to the Wikileaks releases

      Wikileaked is a new foreign policy journal that covers nothing but the stories emerging from Wikileaks’s leaks, including the latest batch of #cablegate leaks.

  • Finance

    • Running Backwards in the US Economy

      Oil is at 90 dollars a barrel. The governments of Europe, Japan, and the United States are saturated with debt. House prices in the US are falling again, and there’s no job growth in America. Put it all together, and for some reason, many are still imagining that we’re in an economic recovery.

      Today’s horrid jobs report contained some shock value in the sense that it missed expectations. But the novelty of a 39K print misses the larger point that, for a large population like the US, even a print of 100K or 125K would still be very bad news.

    • Take Action: Crack Down on the Wall Street Casino!
    • Ben Bernanke’s Secret Global Bank

      Thanks to tremendous public pressure and the recently-passed Wall Street reform bill, the U.S. Federal Reserve was forced to reveal the details of its emergency bailout of the financial sector for the first time yesterday. From a quick review of the data now available on the Federal Reserve website, we can see that the Fed took an expansive internationalist view of its role, prompting U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) to ask: “Has the Federal Reserve Become the Central Bank of the world?”

      [...]

      Private foreign banks also received billions from the Fed in exchange for mortgage backed securities (MBS). The Fed created its MBS program in November 2008 and eventually paid out $1.25 trillion. These facts were known. What we did not know was that approximately half of these purchases were from overseas financial firms, including billions from Barclays Capital (U.K.), Credit Suisse (Switzerland), Deutsche Bank (Germany), Royal Bank of Scotland (England), UBS (Switzerland) and Nomura Securities (Japan). The numbers are huge. Duetsche Bank sold some $290 billion worth of MBS to the Fed.

    • Labor uses jobless to lean on Congress to extend unemployment benefits

      The AFL-CIO pressed lawmakers to extend a “lifeline” to unemployed workers by extending benefits for out-of-work Americans.

      The labor group pressed Congress to approve another extension of unemployment benefits by featuring a video depicting jobless workers.

      “Congress is debating whether to restore this survival aid,” the video says. “This is not a debate. The choice is clear.”

      The unemployment benefits expired Nov. 30 and have lapsed since then. Such a situation has played out several times this year due to legislative wrangling.

    • How to Balance the Budget Without Raising Taxes

      A value-added tax, a soda tax, a gas tax, banning earmarks, freezing a portion of federal spending at “pre-stimulus” levels – there’s no shortage of ideas being thrown out to fix the country’s disastrous balance sheet, which threatens not just near-term economic recovery but the possibility of long-term growth. Like last week’s report from the president’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, most of the current plans to fix the country’s finances rely more on increases in revenues than on cuts in spending. In part due to its heavy reliance on revenue hikes, the commission, charged with balancing the budget by 2020, failed to win enough votes of its own members to present its recommendations to Congress.

    • A Leaner Leviathan

      Before it began its work eight months ago, one of the main knocks against the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was that it could do no more than recommend changes to Congress. In the end, it could not even do that, falling three votes shy of the 14 needed to officially submit its plan for congressional consideration.

      Still, the commission’s report, which was endorsed on Friday by a bipartisan majority of 11 out of its 18 members, is well worth a look. In addition to suggesting some much-needed reforms, including changes to the budget process and simplification of the tax code, it clearly shows, despite its talk of “painful” choices, that eliminating the federal deficit and reining in the national debt does not require radical change. Which is too bad, because even if Congress implemented every cut suggested by the report, the federal government would still be far too big, rife with programs that are unnecessary, unconstitutional, or both.

    • Money For Nothing: Wall Street Borrowed From Fed At 0.0078 Percent

      For the lucky few on Wall Street, the Federal Reserve sure was sweet.

      Nine firms — five of them foreign — were able to borrow between $5.2 billion and $6.2 billion in U.S. government securities, which effectively act like cash on Wall Street, for four-week intervals while paying one-time fees that amounted to the minuscule rate of 0.0078 percent.

      That is not a typo.

      On 33 separate transactions, the lucky nine were able to borrow billions as part of a crisis-era Fed program that lent the securities, known as Treasuries, for 28-day chunks to the now-18 firms known as primary dealers that are empowered to trade with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The program, called the Term Securities Lending Facility, ensured that the firms had cash on hand to lend, invest and trade.

    • What Is Wrong With Cutting Taxes?

      I suggest you talk to the Greeks (now in the International Monetary Fund’s emergency ward) or the Portuguese (who are headed in that direction.) For that matter, listen to any policymaker in the European Union – they are all focused on bringing down deficits in a credible manner. And watch the European financial markets – people there are doubting and testing the fiscal credibility of all governments throughout the euro zone.

      In fact, try persuading any responsible policy analyst anywhere in the world outside the United States that cutting taxes in the United States from current levels will boost growth so much that the cut will pay for itself” and end up reducing or at least controlling the fiscal deficit (the proposition of the Laffer Curve). You will be met great skepticism.

    • Washington Rule Makers Out of the Shadows

      Federal rule makers, long the neglected stepchildren of Washington bureaucrats, suddenly find themselves at the center of power as they scramble to work out details of hundreds of sweeping financial and health care regulations that will ultimately affect most Americans.

    • AIG files plan to pay off debt to New York Fed, prepare for Treasury stock swap

      Regardless, officials seem increasingly certain that taxpayers will recoup their investment in AIG – an outcome that seemed highly unlikely last year, when the total government commitment to the troubled company peaked at more than $180 billion.

    • TARP Repayment and Legalized Counterfeiting

      The news outlets that insisted Congress approve TARP or world will end have been anxiously touting the prospect of repayments and possible profits for the taxpayers from one-time basket cases like Citigroup and AIG. It is worth noting that the question of the government showing a profit or loss on its loans to these companies has little to do with whether the bailout was a net benefit to taxpayers.

    • NY trustee seeks $1B from 7 international banks

      Seven global banking institutions enabled disgraced financier Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme by “creating and offering derivative investment products linked to various Madoff feeder funds,” a court-appointed trustee alleged Wednesday.

    • WH warns tax defeat could trigger new recession

      Raising the direst alarm yet, the Obama administration warned fellow Democrats on Wednesday that if they defeat the big tax-cut compromise detested by many liberals, they could jolt the nation back into recession.

    • State budgets and finances

      Spending Remains Lower than Pre-Recession Levels State general fund spending is forecast to rise 5.3 percent in fiscal 2011 as 35 states enacted a fiscal 2011 budget with general fund spending levels above those of fiscal 2010. However, declines of 7.3 percent and 3.8 percent in state general fund spending in fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2009 respectively mean that state general fund spending remains nearly $42 billion, or 6.2 percent below its fiscal 2008 level. The fiscal 2010 general fund spending decline of 7.3 percent is the largest decline in state spending in the history of this report. See chart below.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • CPJ, OPC Need to Focus on Embattled U.S. Journalists

      A banquet of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) grossed $1.47 million at the Waldorf-Astoria Nov. 23 with the profits going to oppressed reporters and their families throughout the world.

      It is a noble effort supported by many blue chip corporate and media companies. Sir Howard Stringer, CEO of Sony, chaired the banquet. It was held on the first anniversary of the massacre of 57 people, including 32 journalists, in the Philippines. A video commemorated the tragedy.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Russian Press And Pakistani Courts Apparently Have More Respect For Free Speech Than Joe Lieberman

      The first, via Glyn Moody is a long and interesting opinion piece in Pravda, of all places, pointing out the hypocrisy of the US government’s response to Wikileaks and comparing it to the government’s response to the release of Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA agent. It also runs through a nice history of the US’s back-and-forth battle with free speech issues, such as with the Alien & Sedition Acts and the McCarthy era. It also highlights how the Wikileaks’ release shows evidence of the US government covering up all sorts of politically motivated acts.

    • Facebook revamp gives away even more info, warn pros

      The redesigned profile, launched earlier this week and due to be rolled out gradually over coming weeks, is designed to encourage punters to expose even more information about their day to day lives to the dominant social networking site, net security firm Sophos cautions.

    • Popular Websites Sniff Browser History, Researchers Find
  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Smoked turkey company alleges that competitor infringed copyright in directions

      Happy Thanksgiving. I’m grateful for your continued support and interest in Internet Cases. It truly is a pleasure to write these posts and to get your feedback and engagement. And it’s also a pleasure to bring you news of this ultra-timely new copyright lawsuit.

    • Theft scribe picked for Intellectual Property review

      Five advisers have been appointed to Ian Hargreaves’ review into intellectual property growth, the IPO announced yesterday. Two of the choices may cause consternation among creators’ rights representatives.

      One is Scottish legal academic James Boyle, founding board member of Creative Commons, and co-author of two rabble-rousing comic books. One portrays Lawrence Lessig as the Statue of Liberty, the other Theft: Musical Borrowing from Plato to Hip-Hop, due to be published next year, portrays copyright holders as totalitarians.

    • Imitation is the highest form of flattery

      Looks like someone liked our authentic Ristretto for iPad so much that they decided to copy it. This email was forwarded to us by a customer in Norway. Can any of you translate it for us? Our best guess is that this product is made in somewhere in Asia (not Norway) though we don’t know for certain. Are we mad? Not really. We’re too busy designing the next generation of laptop bags — the copycats will just have to keep up with us.

    • The Dangers of COICA

      The entertainment industry’s newest legal tactic, the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act,” (COICA), sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. While Senator Ron Wyden exercised his right to place a hold on pending legislation — which will stop the bill from traveling to the Senate floor immediately — proponents of COICA can (and most assuredly will) reintroduce the measure the next time Congress convenes in 2011.

    • Susan G. Komen Foundation Elbows Out Charities Over Use Of The Word ‘Cure’
    • Even IP Lawyer Trade Group Thinks Viacom Is Wrong About Its DMCA Interpretation

      As you might imagine, I rarely agree with the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) on its positions. While there are plenty of “IP” lawyers who I know well and talk to frequently — many of whom seem to agree with my position on things — it’s no secret that the belief that “IP is all good” and “more IP is better” tends to be a bit more common among such practitioners than the views in the other direction. In fact, if you asked me, I would have just assumed that the AIPLA was 100% behind Viacom in its lawsuit against Youtube/Google. So, consider me quite surprised that the main part of the AIPLA’s amicus brief in Viacom’s appeal of the YouTube case is actually siding with YouTube and saying that Viacom’s argument (as we’ve said) goes way too far.

    • Copyrights

      • State of the indy music industry looks rosy, so why all the doom-and-gloom about music?

        In other words, the music industry today is much less winner-take-all, with the benefits diffused to a larger pool of artists at the expense of the few who did so well under the old system. This is what I mean when I say a good copyright system is one that encourages the broadest-possible engagement in culture: more music, from more musicians, reaching more people, at more price-points, in more formats. It’s a win for free expression and for art, but it’s a loss for some artists and the institutions that supported them.

        I don’t celebrate those losses: it’s terrible to think of people who loved and lived for music losing their jobs (most of the people at labels aren’t greedy tools deciding to sue 40,000 music fans; greedy tool-dom is confined to a few powerful decisionmakers). It’s sad to think of the tiny pool of musicians who did so well taking a loss (though before we weep for them too much, remember that yesterday’s winners are well situated to get even richer from merch, performance and licensing, even without the archaic recorded music industry and its shiny bits of plastic).

      • Piracy Is Over Like The Web Is Dead

        This, of course, is pure nonsense. That isn’t the way royalties with modern day recording contracts work. Through the magic of recording label accounting, the average musician makes roughly $23 for every $1000 in music sold — and that’s only if they actually recoup, which is difficult to do, thanks to the way the record labels account for things. For those of you who share my math skills and don’t want to reach for a calculator, that’s barely 2%. Some of that result stems from necessary things the bands may need to spend on: managers, lawyers, taxes. But a good deal of it also comes from neat little, and sometimes recoupable, charges from the record label, things like independent radio promotion, tour support, roughly fifty percent of the music video costs, etc. Other times, the record labels flatout don’t pay the royalties from truly successful albums. Bottom line is, at the end of the day, record labels make money off of selling music, musicians do not.

      • Google Won’t Recommend Most Popular Searches If It Thinks It Might Sorta Have Something To Do With Piracy

        In the last few months, there’s been a growing movement by the entertainment industry to blame Google for “piracy.” One of the favorite talking points is the claim that Google is “profiting from piracy,” by linking people to sites that point people to unauthorized infringing copies of content, and then placing ads on those sites. Of course, this ignores the fact that the standard “pirate” out there isn’t exactly the sort of person who goes around clicking on ads either — and is probably a hell of a lot more likely to ignore the ads entirely or use something like Adblock. Either way, it seems like Google has decided to try to end this argument for the industry by announcing some basic changes in how it deals with copyright complaints.

      • New Zealand leak: US-style copyright rules are a bad deal

        Michael Geist writes in with new leaks relating to the New Zealand government’s deep skepticism about US pressure to change its copyright law. The US wants New Zealand to add protection for “technical protection measures” (also called TPMs, DRM, or digital locks). This would follow the US law that makes it illegal to jailbreak an iPad, rip a DVD, or move your Kindle or Sony ebooks to competing devices (interestingly, the US copyright office just suspended the restriction on jailbreaking iPhones for three years, having concluded that the US law that’s being pushed in NZ does more harm than good).

      • ACS:Law Take Alleged File-Sharers To Court – But Fail On a Grand Scale

        Andrew Crossley, owner of the now infamous anti-piracy lawfirm ACS:Law, has always insisted that he has no fear of taking contested file-sharing cases to court. Now it has emerged that he recently tried to get a court to issue default judgments against individuals who offered no defense, but the hearing failed on so many levels its difficult to know where to start. Nevertheless, we’ll have a go.

      • Judge to copyright troll: get lost
      • EFF Demands Copyright Troll Pay for Suing Democratic Underground

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation is demanding that the newspaper lawsuit factory Righthaven pay the EFF’s costs for its successful defense of the website Democratic Underground from one of Righthaven’s many copyright lawsuits.

      • MPAA to universities: curb piracy or lose federal funding

        The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has decided to mimic the efforts of its music industry counterpart and put pressure on universities to curb student piracy. The organization notified its partners this week that it would begin sending out letters to college and university presidents in the US “calling their attention” to the anti-infringement provisions of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA). The letter—copied to the campus CIOs—asks universities to cut off infringing students or face potentially crippling consequences.

      • Righthaven now working with Media News, sues over Denver Post column

        Las Vegas-based newspaper copyright enforcement company Righthaven LLC is now doing business with Media News Group and has sued a blogger for alleged copyright infringement involving a column from the Media News-owned Denver Post.

        An attorney for Righthaven filed the suit Thursday in federal court in Charleston, S.C. This appears to be the first lawsuit Righthaven has filed in a federal court outside of Nevada, where since March it has filed 179 copyright infringement lawsuits.

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