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12.16.10

Links 16/12/2010: Google’s ChromeOS Criticised by Stallman, X Server 1.9.3 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • The outlook for Windows 7 with Google Chrome coming up

      Microsoft Windows owned 91 percent of the PC operating system market in 2009, and IDC expects it to drop by 1 percent by 2014. Mac, which had 4 percent in 2009, is expected to increase to 5 percent by 2014. Linux is expected to hold steady at 4 percent.

    • Staying Safe Online This Holiday Season

      Give the Gift of Linux – The best thing you can do for your non-computer-savvy relative or friend is install Linux. Before you laugh, hear me out. Linux is great if all you’re doing is surfing the Internet and maybe writing some documents. Everything else, including photo sharing, is all cloud-based now anyway. Best of all, you won’t have to spend hours deleting junk out of the browser cache and you can do it all remotely via a VNC or an SSH connection. What more could you ask for?

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • So You Wanna Start A Band?

      Many people only think about it from the fans perspective, without realizing the different steps it’s taken to get to them. ThistleWeb talks about the current copyright cartel thinking in how it affects musicians. The same people who claim to speak on behalf of artists, lobby to enshrine laws supposedly for the artists. He talks through the process of starting a band and how often these laws crop up forcing the next generation of musicians to spend a LOT of money to stay legal, or be criminalized. Staying legal means coughing up to maintain the status quo.

  • Google

    • Google’s ChromeOS means losing control of data, warns GNU founder Richard Stallman

      Google’s new cloud computing ChromeOS looks like a plan “to push people into careless computing” by forcing them to store their data in the cloud rather than on machines directly under their control, warns Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and creator of the operating system GNU.

      Two years ago Stallman, a computing veteran who is a strong advocate of free software via his Free Software Foundation, warned that making extensive use of cloud computing was “worse than stupidity” because it meant a loss of control of data.

      Now he says he is increasingly concerned about the release by Google of its ChromeOS operating system, which is based on GNU/Linux and designed to store the minimum possible data locally. Instead it relies on a data connection to link to Google’s “cloud” of servers, which are at unknown locations, to store documents and other information.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux kernel 2.6.35 longterm maintenance

      After Greg Kroah-Hartmann stopped maintaining 2.6.35-stable. I plan to maintain the 2.6.35 linux kernel tree longterm for now. Thanks to Greg for all his hard work on this.

      The primary consumers of 2.6.35 right now are Meego and the CE Linux Forum, but some others are interested and everyone who wants a long term stable tree is of course free to use it.

      The longterm tree continues after Greg’s 2.6.35.9 stable release. It will not be called “stable”, but called “longterm” to make the distinction clear.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu Manual Project Progressing… Slowly.

          It seems the biggest problem that the project is facing is the lack of time. As this is a community driven project, it effectively takes a back seat to everything else that is going on in people’s lives. Personally, I do not know what can be done to change the situation. I too have limited time as well, but I do my best, as do many others involved in the project. Thank you to all those people. Your help is greatly appreciated.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Designing wallpapers for Edubuntu and Xubuntu

            For this cycle, we discussed that the Ubuntu Artwork Team should do more for the community. The misconception that the team has anything to do with Ubuntu-the-product’s visual design and default theme has to die. I lean towards the same for the hope this could change.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Software Leaders to Advise Linaro

      Following completion of its first major release in November, Linaro announces the expansion of its ecosystem to include Advisory Partners Canonical, GENIVI, HP, LiMo Foundation and MontaVista Software all of whom are involved in building complex Linux based software. The Advisors will help to guide the Linaro Technical Steering Committee (TSC) on critical industry needs, facilitating the alignment of requirements.

    • Linux Embeds Itself Yet Further

      Embedded systems, of course, are the great iceberg of software.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • IBM readies Lotus Notes Traveler for Android

          “Today, IBM is shipping Lotus Notes Traveler 8.5.2.1. New in this release — the Notes Traveler client for Android OS,” wrote Ed Brill, IBM’s director of product management for Lotus software, in a blog post Tuesday.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Looking at the code behind our three uses of Apache Hadoop

    We’ve now open sourced the exact versions of Apache Hadoop we run in production at Facebook. These branches are based on the Apache Hadoop 0.20 release, but have a number of new features which haven’t yet made it into any official Hadoop release. Our engineering team contributes changes (such as the patches in these branches) upstream to the Hadoop project and you’ll find that we’ve listed JIRA tasks along with most of the changes.

    Apache Hadoop is being used in three broad types of systems: as a warehouse for web analytics, as storage for a distributed database and for MySQL database backups.

  • The Apache Software Foundation Launches “Apache Extras” to Accelerate Innovation

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) today announced apache-extras.org, the Google-hosted site for code associated with Apache projects that are not part of the Foundation’s more than eighty Top-level Projects and dozens of initiatives in the Apache Incubator and Labs.

  • Web Browsers

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Please don’t get me any of these things as a gift

      It’s the holiday season, many people are buying gifts. Gifts for co-workers, friends, family and even strangers.

      Recently I received a gift from a stranger — a copy of Blood Bowl for Windows. Based on the fantasy football board game of the same name, the gift may have seemed like a no-brainer for someone who doesn’t know you very well, and may be forced to buy a gift based on your apparent likes and dislikes from your posts on a forum or website. What was intended as an innocent gift from a well-wishing anonymous giver was actually an instrument of DRM. What kind of DRM, I don’t know, but that the game proudly announces online activation is an indication that there’s some.

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Cuba’s answer to Wikipedia, “EcuRed” Launches Tomorrow

      Wanting to “create and disseminate the knowledge of all and for all, from Cuba and with the world,” Cuba launches its own online encyclopedia, similar to Wikipedia, called EcuRed.

      The site officially launches tomorrow, but it is already up and running with 19,345 entries, as first reported by Reuters.

    • Cuba launches Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia
    • [CC] Meet our board members: Mike Carroll
    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware

      • Operation: Stick Figure Army turns 2D teaching into 3D learning

        The Cupcake CNC is an example of open hardware: the design, from its electronics to its physical build, is licensed in an open manner. Given its low cost and small size (compared to many commercial 3D printers), it is possible to introduce students to the marvels of modern manufacture on a budget, even in the classroom.

        As a member of the Teaching Open Source community, I’ve watched the evolution of the POSSE programme as it reaches out to computer science faculty around the world. However, computer science graduates make up a very small percentage of the graduates of higher education, and I want to find ways for more students from more backgrounds to experience the benefits and rewards of communicating with and contributing to free and open source communities.

        It is hard work, finding ways to introduce fundamentally non-technical students into open communities that assume, coming in the door, that you know how to use a version control system. While projects like OpenHatch are excellent, I find myself looking for more tangible ways to get students from outside computing involved in things they can see and feel.

Leftovers

  • YouTube Looks to Become Its Own Video Production Company [RUMOR]

    Less than two weeks after Google acquired on-demand video service Widevine, the search giant’s video property is said to be exploring a premium content acquisition of its own.

  • How Our Brains Threaten Democracy: The Logic Behind Self-Delusion

    In light of these findings, researchers concluded that a defense mechanism, which they labeled “backfire”, was preventing individuals from producing pure rational thought. The result is a self-delusion that appears so regularly in normal thinking that we fail to detect it in ourselves, and often in others: When faced with facts that do not fit seamlessly into our individual belief systems, our minds automatically reject (or backfire) the presented facts. The result of backfire is that we become even more entrenched in our beliefs, even if those beliefs are totally or partially false.

    “The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” said Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher of the Michigan study. The occurrence of backfire, he noted, is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

  • Kosovo PM is head of human organ and arms ring, Council of Europe reports

    Kosovo’s prime minister is the head of a “mafia-like” Albanian group responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and human organs through eastern Europe, according to a Council of Europe inquiry report on organised crime.

  • Competition: Commission adopts revised competition rules on horizontal co-operation agreements

    The European Commission has revised its rules for the assessment of co-operation agreements between competitors, so called horizontal co-operation agreements. As it is often vital for companies to work together to achieve synergies, there exist a vast number of horizontal co-operation agreements in many industries. The texts update and further clarify the application of competition rules in this area so that companies can better assess whether their co-operation agreements are in line with those rules. Modifications concern mainly the areas of standardisation, information exchange, and research and development (R&D).

  • Voice Search gets personal
  • Convicted judge swears and storms out of Carlisle court

    A judge who swore and stormed out of court after being convicted of failing to keep her German Shepherd under control has been fined £2,500.

    The dog, owned by Judge Beatrice Bolton who sits at Newcastle Crown Court, attacked a sunbathing student in his parents’ Northumberland garden.

    Bolton, 57, who was asked during the trial to stop chewing gum, denied one charge under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

  • Science

    • Astronomers Find First Evidence Of Other Universes

      There’s something exciting afoot in the world of cosmology. Last month, Roger Penrose at the University of Oxford and Vahe Gurzadyan at Yerevan State University in Armenia announced that they had found patterns of concentric circles in the cosmic microwave background, the echo of the Big Bang.

      This, they say, is exactly what you’d expect if the universe were eternally cyclical. By that, they mean that each cycle ends with a big bang that starts the next cycle. In this model, the universe is a kind of cosmic Russian Doll, with all previous universes contained within the current one.

    • Time to democratise science

      THE natural and social sciences exert a huge influence on the ways our societies develop. At present most of the funding for scientific research is controlled by the state and the private economy. Perhaps it is time to look at their track record and consider an alternative.

      In economics, we already have damning evidence that the funding system isn’t working. As the investment banker turned financial reformer Philip Augar has pointed out, over a period of 30 years the discipline became a servant of the financial sector. “Finance wrapped its tentacles around the relevant parts of the academic world… it is little wonder that so much academic research was supportive of the financial system.”

    • ESA Makes The Sun Available To Everyone

      New software developed by ESA makes available online to everyone, everywhere at anytime, the entire library of images from the SOHO solar and heliospheric observatory. Just download the viewer and begin exploring the Sun.

      JHelioviewer is new visualization software that enables everyone to explore the Sun. Developed as part of the ESA/NASA Helioviewer Project, it provides a desktop program that enables users to call up images of the Sun from the past 15 years.

    • Bad Science in Star Wars
    • Brain-Controlled Wheelchair

      This could be useful for people who are paralysed, and are unable to control parts of their body enough to physically activate the joystick of an electric wheelchair. Many people may be able to use this technology to gain some independence, and to take a break from needing an attendant to push their wheelchair so they can get some fresh air.

      The parts of this system include an electric wheelchair, a laptop computer, an Arduino, an interface circuit, an EEG headset, and a collection of ready-made and custom software.

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • UK Govt Moves Against 12-Year-Old Dissident

      Pointing to the Cameron government’s growing impatience over student protests, British officials have reportedly moved against 12-year-old Nicky Wishart, henceforth known as the Notorious Nicky of Oxfordshire, threatening him with arrest for threatening the public peace.

    • Foreign Office memo shows 2002 plan to sell Iraq invasion to UK media

      The Foreign Office was planning for the possibility that Britain might attack Iraq without UN approval more than six months before the invasion, according to a hitherto classified document written shortly before a meeting between Tony Blair and George Bush at Camp David.

      The document, drawn up by John Williams, press adviser to the then foreign secretary, Jack Straw, spells out ways to soften up the media, including “critics like the Guardian”. Under the heading Not taking the UN route, Williams wrote: “Our argument should be narrow, and put with vigour – Iraq is uniquely dangerous.”

      His memo, titled Iraq Media Strategy, is dated 4 September 2002, when the government was still trying to get UN support for military action and when Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general, was advising that clear UN authority was needed. The document was also written as Whitehall and MI6 were being wound up by No 10 to provide much-needed ammunition for the government’s Iraq weapons dossier.

    • Report details ties between US and ex-Nazis

      Declassified CIA files reveal that U.S. intelligence officials went to great lengths to protect a Ukrainian fascist leader and suspected Nazi collaborator from prosecution after World War II and set him up in a New York office to wage covert war against the Soviet Union, according to a new report to Congress.

      Mykola Lebed led an underground movement to undermine the Kremlin and conduct guerrilla operations for the CIA during the Cold War, says the report, prepared by two scholars under the supervision of the National Archives. It was given to Congress on Thursday and posted online.

    • Phone-hacking scandal: Yard move may hide journalists’ spy roles

      The Metropolitan police have moved to close off the supply of information which could identify senior journalists at the News of the World who commissioned illegal phone hacking.

    • Do we hold the state to be legitimate?

      In Western democracies, we may well work under the belief that the state is legitimate, but we surely don’t operate under the view that everything it does is legitimate. That is our job — isn’t it? — to find and expose its illegitimate acts.

      I do not think I can accept as journalistic canon the idea that reporters and editors in every nation should view their states as legitimate. To the contrary, we root for them to challenge the legitimacy of illegitimate states; don’t we expect them to be the first, best hammer on the walls of secrecy built by the tyrannical and the corrupt?

    • Man killed by Long Beach police was holding a water nozzle, not a gun, police say

      Douglas Zerby, 35, was shot and killed by officers responding to a 911 call of an intoxicated man holding a ‘six-shooter’ Sunday in the Belmont Shore neighborhood.

    • Masks so realistic they’re arresting the wrong guy

      Expensive, realistic masks — the kind that are the hit of the costume party — are increasingly being used out of season, and not always for laughs.

      A white bank robber in Ohio recently used a “hyper-realistic” mask manufactured by a small Van Nuys company to disguise himself as a black man, prompting police there to mistakenly arrest an African American man for the crimes.

    • Can the F-35 win a charm offensive?

      The Conservatives touted ‘high-quality opportunities’ bound for Canada’s aerospace industry as a result of the JSF deal. Exactly how much work? It all depends who you ask.

    • McQuaig: Vindication for G20 protesters

      In the aftermath of the G20 fiasco here last summer, one thing Torontonians agreed on was that such summits should be held in isolated venues — on military bases, on ocean-going vessels, on melting glaciers — anywhere but where lots of people reside.

    • Sudan YouTube flogging video: Women arrested at march

      About 30 Sudanese women have been arrested for holding a protest march over a video which allegedly shows two policemen whipping a woman.

  • Cablegate

    • The Conservative Case for WikiLeaks

      Lovers necessarily keep or share secrets. Being in a healthy relationship means achieving a certain level of intimacy, where shared knowledge of each others’ weaknesses and insecurities is protected by a bond of mutual trust. Sometimes lovers might do devilish things that outsiders wouldn’t understand, or shouldn’t be privy to, and this is fine. But by and large, what they do is simply no one else’s business.

      But imagine that the man in the relationship kept it a secret that he had other women on the side, kids, a criminal record, venereal disease, and basically betrayed his lover in every way imaginable, unbeknownst to her?

      Now imagine a third party felt it was their moral duty to reveal it?

      No one questions that governments must maintain a certain level of secrecy, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who told Time that “Secrecy is important for many things … [but it] shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses.” The entire premise of Assange’s whistleblower organization is this: To what degree is government secrecy justified? And when particular secrets could be damaging to the other partner in the United States government’s relationship — the American people — should these secrets be revealed in the name of protecting the public?

    • WikiLeaks cables: US pressured British regulator to act against Iranian banks

      Senior US officials urged British banking regulators two years ago to take more draconian action against Iranian banks suspected of financing nuclear and missile programmes, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks show.

      Hector Sants, chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, was forced to defend the regulator’s record on Iran – particularly with regard to Bank Sepah – to the state department under-secretary Reuben Jeffrey and the US treasury assistant Patrick O’Brien.

    • Julian Assange: Readers’ Choice for TIME’s Person of the Year 2010
    • Inside Story – WikiLeaks’ financial crisis
    • Is a U.S. grand jury considering charges against Julian Assange?
    • Wikileaks supporters and Anonymous stage offline protests, too (photo)

      WikiLeaks supporters wear masks of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Guy Fawkes masks emblematic of “Anonymous” during a demonstration calling for the release of Assange from prison.

    • WikiLeaks exposes U.S. strategy at the United Nations

      WikiLeaks has released its first confidential cable written by diplomats from the U.S. mission to the United Nations. While the December 2009 cable — which discusses U.S. efforts on a range of issues before the U.N. General Assembly — provides no major news revelations, it contains some valuable insights into the way America conducts its business here.

      The confidential U.S. diplomatic communication — which was approved by U.S. ambassador Susan E. Rice — shows how reliant the U.S. is on its allies, particularly in Europe, to take the lead on politically sensitive issues like the promotion of human rights, where the U.S. often faces criticism for its military and detention policies. The cable credits the European Union with “collaborating pragmatically” with the Obama administration on its top priorities, including efforts to require emerging economic powers to pay a larger share of the U.N.’s administrative and peacekeeping costs, and to adopt U.N. resolutions criticizing the human rights record of Burma, Iran, and North Korea.

    • In Defense of DDoS

      Judging by the last two weeks, being an enemy of Julian Assange is only marginally less stressful than being Julian Assange. Amazon, PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa, which all moved to cut ties with Assange’s WikiLeaks after the site’s release of diplomatic cables, have been the targets of distributed denial-of-service attacks from a group that calls itself “Anonymous.” There is nothing fancy going on here. DDoS attacks simply aim to send more traffic to a target site than it can handle, slowing it down or making it temporarily unavailable.

      Many prominent Internet personalities, including John Perry Barlow and Cory Doctorow, have spoken out against DDoS on the sensible-sounding grounds that one can’t fight for free speech by limiting it for others. How, then, does Anonymous defend its actions? In a press release (PDF), the self-described “Internet gathering” explains that its “goal is to raise awareness about WikiLeaks and the underhanded methods employed by … companies to impair WikiLeaks’ ability to function.” For this author, however, the most interesting bit of the press release comes in the next paragraph: “[A DDoS attack] is a symbolic action—as blogger and academic Evgeny Morozov put it, a legitimate expression of dissent” (italics theirs).

    • WikiLeaks boss speaks out from prison

      The founder of WikiLeaks has issued a plea from jail for his supporters to keep fighting, accusing Visa, Mastercard and Paypal of being instruments of US foreign policy.

    • Party revolt growing over Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s WikiLeaks stance

      JULIA Gillard is confronting a growing backlash within her own party, with more Labor MPs yesterday attacking the Prime Minister’s language and declaring their support for WikiLeaks’s founder Julian Assange and free speech.

      Ms Gillard said the latest WikiLeaks information dump was based on an illegal act, but Canberra has since insisted that was a reference to the original theft of the material by a junior US serviceman rather than any action by Mr Assange.

    • Understanding Wikileaks
    • Designer arrested over Anonymous press release

      A bloke named Alex Tapanaris, whose name appeared on the PDF press release circulated by online trouble-makers Anonymous has had his web site disappeared from the web and, according to a post on pastebin.com, the unfortunate chap has been arrested.

    • Speaker says WikiLeaks “information terrorism”

      The leaking of confidential documents by whistle-blower WikiLeaks is a case of information terrorism, Hungarian parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover said late on Sunday.

      Kover, who was minister without a portfolio overseeing the secret services between 1998 and 2000, said the WikiLeaks affair shows that “it is necessary to tackle” the taboo that surrounds the lack of control in online news reporting and “it is necessary to devise a method to prevent similar cases in the future.”

    • Assange Tells Mom Criticism Won’t Stop WikiLeaks Work

      “We now know that Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and others are instruments of U.S. foreign policy. It’s not something we knew before,” he charged in the statement provided by his mother. “I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks.”

    • A Mother’s Plea: WikiLeaks Founder No Criminal
    • WikiLeaks protesters stopped by riot police

      WikiLeaks protesters have marched to Martin Place, sparking several violent clashes with police.

      The crowd overwhelmingly voted to march despite being told they were not allowed by police.

    • The Secular Fatwa on Julian Assange

      By any standard, these and other calls for Assange’s death constitute incitements to murder as much as Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa did. The question is whether such speech is protected under the First Amendment. I personally believe that all speech is protected—when it is speech. Julian Assange has the right to publish documents, as do the newspapers with which he shared the them. Salman Rushdie has the right to offend those who read The Satanic Verses—even to offend the many who haven’t read a word of it. In theory, Sarah Palin, Mike Flanagan, and Bob Beckel have the right to say what they think about Julian Assange.

    • Julian Assange banner [IMG]
    • An interview with Julian Assange’s lawyer

      Mark told me that Julian Assange is currently in the very same cell that was occupied by Oscar Wilde before the latter’s transfer to Reading Gaol. His client is not allowed to have any internet access, and nor has the library trolley come round. He is being kept in isolation, even though he is a model prisoner. He did have access to a television but this has now been removed (though he loathed having to watch British daytime television). All he has now is a wind-up radio.

    • Naomi Wolf: J’Accuse: Sweden, Britain, and Interpol Insult Rape Victims Worldwide

      How do I know that Interpol, Britain and Sweden’s treatment of Julian Assange is a form of theater? Because I know what happens in rape accusations against men that don’t involve the embarrassing of powerful governments.

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is in solitary confinement in Wandsworth prison in advance of questioning on state charges of sexual molestation. Lots of people have opinions about the charges. But I increasingly believe that only those of us who have spent years working with rape and sexual assault survivors worldwide, and know the standard legal response to sex crime accusations, fully understand what a travesty this situation is against those who have to live through how sex crime charges are ordinarily handled — and what a deep, even nauseating insult this situation is to survivors of rape and sexual assault worldwide.

    • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange granted bail but sent back to prison as Swedish prosecutors appeal against decision

      # WikiLeaks boss will remain in jail ahead of appeal by Swedish prosecutors
      # Appeal will be heard within 48 hours by senior High Court judge
      # Assange desperately trying to raise £200,000 cash to meet bail security
      # His lawyer says ‘The begging bowl is out’
      # Michael Moore, Bianca Jagger and Jemima Khan show their support
      # Judge allows live ‘Twitters’ from court

    • Michael Moore offers to post bail for Julian Assange

      Oh, goody. Perhaps upset that his last film, Capitalism, was a dud and he hasn’t been in the news for a while, filmmaker Michael Moore is now offering to post bail for WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange, who is currently languishing in a British prison while the Brits work out his extradition to Sweden, where he’s wanted for questioning.

    • Why I’m Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange

      Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.

      Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

    • Congressional Research Service on wikileaks and prosecution

      Here is a very interesting document titled “Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information” by Jennifer K. Elsea, Legislative Attorney from October 18, 2010. It gives you insight into how the US is struggling to find ways to prosecute Julian Assange for leaking documents.

    • One great thing about WikiLeaks

      It’s helping us all understand that the Internet isn’t just for tweeting what you had for lunch, watching (and making) viral YouTube videos, sharing family pictures on Facebook and buying stuff on Amazon.

    • Wikileaks and file sharing

      Yet again, I’m left noticing the similarities between the US government’s reaction to Wikileaks and the entertainment industry’s reaction to file sharing”, says Mike Masnick (right) on TechDirt.

      “Each move that it made, including going legal, backfired in a big, bad way. It’s really quite stunning to watch the US government make the same mistakes.”

      Stunning, but hardly surprising, particularly when one considers just how close the Obama administration is to the corporate entertainment industry, and how frequently Big 4 record label and Hollywood demands end up as US government policy.

    • Julian Assange: ‘His philosophy keeps evolving’
    • Attempts to prosecute WikiLeaks endanger press freedoms

      Amazingly, the Obama administration is surpassing its predecessor when it comes to assaults on whistle-blowing and a free press. As Politico’s Josh Gerstein reported, “President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has taken a hard line against leakers. . . .’They’re going after this at every opportunity and with unmatched vigor,’ said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.” The New York Times similarly documented: “the Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks.” The Obama DOJ has launched nothing less than a full-on war against whistleblowers; its magnanimous “Look Forward, Not Backward” decree used to shield high-level Bush criminals from investigations is manifestly tossed to the side when it comes to those who reveal such criminality. And they even revitalized an abandoned Bush-era subpoena issued to The New York Times’ James Risen, demanding that he disclose his source for an article in which he revealed an embarrassingly botched attempt to infiltrate and sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

    • WikiLeaks Founder Granted Bail, With Conditions
    • Wikileaks, free speech and traditional media

      I find it fascinating how US government has chosen to try to dismantle the support network that makes wikileaks possible – pressuring paypal, amazon and numerous others into refusing to enable wikileaks to work.

      They have pressured pretty much every stakeholder with one exception. The traditional media.

    • WikiLeaks cables: Mervyn King plotted banks bailout by four cash-rich nations

      The Bank of England governor, Mervyn King, was so concerned about the health of the world’s banks in March 2008 that he plotted a secret bailout of the system using funds from cash-rich nations, according to a US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks.

      Six months before the world financial crisis reached its peak, forcing taxpayers to rescue collapsing financial institutions, King told US officials in London that the UK, US, Switzerland and Japan could jointly enable a multibillion-pound cash injection into global banks, overriding the “dysfunctional” G7 nations.

    • Assange’s planned home, when out on bail
    • A Question About Wikileaks, Amazon, and Intellectual Property

      I have a legal question about the Wikileaks case, prompted by this this Guardian piece, by John Naughton, linked in Henry’s comments. I must confess: I wasn’t surprised or particularly scandalized when Amazon kicked Wikileaks off its cloud, because I figured Amazon was probably technically in the right. Wikileaks had probably violated whatever terms of service were in place. I thought this sounded like the sort of thing any private company was likely to do, whether or not Joe Lieberman actually brought pressure to bear. If you have a problem customer who has violated your terms of service, you terminate service. (Just to be clear: I think ongoing attempts to shut down Wikileaks in patently legally dodgy ways are an utter scandal. Joe Lieberman pressuring Amazon is a scandal. I’m with Glenn Greenwald. I also think existing intellectual property laws are, by and large, an atrocious mess. Still, the law is what it is, so the question of how a private company like Amazon can and should be expected to react to this sort of situation is narrower than certain other more general questions about free speech and the press and so forth.)

    • WikiLeaks: Julian Assange crowned ‘Rock Star of the Year’ by Italian Rolling Stone

      The magazine said it decided to feature the Australian whistle-blower on its front cover because although he is not a musician, he “is the person who best embodied a rock’n’roll behaviour” during 2010.

      He is portrayed bare-chested and bathed in a mysterious white light in front of a bank of television screens.

    • Assange’s Extremist Employees
    • The Wikileaks Double Standard

      The division in Crowley’s mind between Bad Wikileaks and Responsible New York Times is entirely arbitrary. Each is a publisher; each routinely takes advantage of stolen goods and information. That one does so with an agenda that’s free for all to see and the other pretends it’s a disinterested observer makes no difference at all.

    • WikiLeaks: Julian Assange bail hearing makes legal history with Twitter ruling

      Howard Riddle, the Chief Magistrate, agreed that reporters could send the short messages, known as “Tweets” as long as they did so “quietly” and “did not disturb” the court.

    • Is The US Response To Wikileaks Really About Overhyping Online Threats To Pass New Laws?

      Okay, this post is going to take the extreme cynical view, which I don’t believe is true, but since it’s being suggested, we might as well flesh it out. In my post about how the US government’s response to Wikileaks has caused more harm than anything actually in the leaks so far, one of the commenters pointed to a Larry Lessig talk from a few years back, where he mentioned a conversation with Richard Clarke — the former anti-terrorism government official, who, more recently, has been selling his book on “Cyberwar” — where he said that the US government has had an “iPatriot Act” sitting in a drawer, ready to go at a moment’s notice whenever there was “an i-9/11 event.”

    • Julian Assange remains in jail as Sweden appeals against bail decision

      A dramatic day in and around City of Westminster magistrates court saw Assange win bail, but then be forced to return to what his lawyer Mark Stephens described as “Dickensian conditions” at Wandsworth prison while the international legal battle played out.

      Sweden has decided to contest the granting of bail to Assange, who is being held pending an extradition hearing, on the grounds that no conditions imposed by a judge could guarantee that he would not flee, a legal source told the Guardian.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Beekeeper Who Leaked EPA Documents: “I Don’t Think We Can Survive This Winter”

      Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald never expected to become embroiled in a controversy between the EPA and the pesticide industry. But that’s exactly what happened when Theobald got hold of an EPA document revealing that the agency is allowing the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, in spite of warnings from EPA scientists.

      So how did Theobald (pictured above) end up with such a contentious document?

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • UK Flexes Its Muscles On Paid Blog And Tweet Disclosure

      The Office of Fair Trading has fired a shot across the bows of marketing companies that buy blog posts and tweets for sponsored promotions without disclosing the fact, after finding that a London-based company broke its code on disclosure.

      But it declined to say whether it will be going after other companies in the next few months, despite the insistence of Handpicked Media, an 18-month-old startup based in Carnaby Street which the OFT censured on Monday, that the practice is widespread.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Weighing The Benefits And Costs Of DRM: Type I & Type II Errors

      I think one of the problems that people have in discussing DRM is that they only look at one type of error, and never bother to compare the two. As a result of that, those who support strong DRM tend to focus only on the “error” of letting people get a “free ride,” and ignore all of the collateral damage, as Phipps explains. Yet, when you compare the two, it’s difficult to see how one can argue that the “free ride” problem is worse than the problem of collateral damage from limiting legitimate uses. And that is why so many people have such problems with DRM. It’s not that we want a “free ride.” It’s that we worry about the costs associated with all of those collateral damage points.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Notes from meeting with USTR on the TPP IPR chapter

      Today USTR provided some additional insight into negotiations of a regional, Asia-Pacific trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement. The USTR web page on the TPP negotiations is http://www.ustry.gov/tpp. At present, the TPP negotiators include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Japan and Canada have expressed interest in joining the negotiations, and USTR clearly would like to design an agreement that will be open to other countries. Our discussions focused on the intellectual property chapter in the agreement. According to USTR, the only text that has been tabled for the IP chapter concerns trademarks and general provisions — the patents, copyrights, test data and enforcement sections of the IP chapter are being designed now. USTR expects a number of health related issues to be raised in the upcoming Santiago Chile meeting in February 2011.

    • A Disastrous Development In The ‘First-Sale’ Copyright Doctrine

      The Supreme Court on Monday said Costco could be liable for copyright infringement for selling foreign-made watches without the manufacturer’s authorization.

      True – the Court split 4 to 4 and offered no reasoning for the vote, which technically means that no legal precedent by the high court is created. But on a practical level, it leaves in place the lower court’s opinion which said that copyright law prevents Costco from re-selling foreign-made watches that it lawfully purchased.

    • Author Slams ‘Piracy,’ Then Admits To A Huge ‘Pirated’ Music Collection And Counterfeit Purses
    • Copyrights

      • How Copyright Takes Away Rights From Consumers

        It’s amusing to see defenders of current copyright law often making final declarations about how copyright is a “right” for artists, and thus protecting those rights absolutely makes sense. What they never seem to talk about is how, at the same time, copyright quite frequently is removing rights from the public. Julian Sanchez points us to a fascinating new paper from law professor John Tehranian, which tries to bring user rights back into the discussion of copyright

      • Gov’t to allow unlicensed use of copyrighted works

        A government advisory panel on Monday basically approved a plan to tolerate the unlicensed use of copyrighted works unless the use unduly infringes on the interest of the copyright holder, government officials said.

      • ACTA

        • Australia Government Report Warns Against Including IP In Trade Agreements

          The report includes a detailed discussion of ACTA-like agreements that emphasize cooperation, information sharing, and enforcement activities. It notes what should be obvious to many participating countries, including Canada – “most of the benefits to IP rights holders from measures to promote adherence to existing rules in partner countries can be expected to accrue to third parties, such as rights holders in the United States.”

Clip of the Day

A Mother’s Plea: WikiLeaks Founder No Criminal


Credit: TinyOgg

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