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Links 20/12/2010: PCLinuxOS 2010.12, Mandriva 2010.2

Posted in News Roundup at 7:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Add-On Developers Get Add-on SDK 1.0b1

        If you are a developer working on Firefox add-ons, here is good news for you. The Jetpack team has announced the release of Add-on SDK 1.0b1.

        Add-on SDK 1.0b1 helps add-on developers in many ways as it “combines tools for creating, testing, and packaging add-ons with a set of high-level APIs that make it simple to access pages, tabs, and other browser features.”

  • CMS

    • Diaspora

      Diaspora is a open source, distributed social networking software. The joindiaspora site is an instance that the primary authors of the code are running in order to help them fix issues before publishing a stable release (capacity and otherwise). So, after poking around on it for a few days, a few thoughts:

      On the good side:

      * Nice to see that everything is https all the time
      * “Aspects” are cool. It’s basically a grouping of your friends. You can add friends to multiple aspects, create new aspects called whatever you like, etc. Then you can share something with just one or several aspects, or everything. It allows you to narrow things nicely if you want to only send something to close friends or co-workers
      * The facebook connection at least works. I was able to share something to the world and it showed up on my facebook account. There’s a twitter connection as well
      * There is a ‘export all my stuff as xml’ and ‘export all my photos’ function. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to work currently, but it’s nice to be able to have the option to move all your data to another ‘seed’ (diaspora instance) and have everything keep working.
      * There’s a checkbox to determine if you show up in searches or not, and one for email when people add comments, etc

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Clause Escape

    During Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s confirmation hearings last summer, Sen. Tom Coburn asked her whether a law requiring Americans to eat their fruits and vegetables could be justified as an exercise of the federal government’s constitutional authority to “regulate commerce…among the several states.” Kagan’s stubborn resistance to answering Coburn’s question suggested it was not as wacky as it may have seemed.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Defense Ministry: South Korea starts live-fire drill

      South Korea’s planned live-fire military exercises started Monday afternoon, the country’s ministry of defense said.

      North Korea has said the drill could ignite a war and has promised to respond militarily, but has also agreed to a series of actions after former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson urged the North to not take an aggressive response.

    • ‘Israeli War Crimes’ signs to go on Metro buses

      “Israeli War Crimes,” the enormous advertisement reads. “Your tax dollars at work.”

      To the right of the image is a group of children — one little boy stares out at the viewer, the others gawk at a demolished building, all rebar and crumbled concrete.

      It’s an ad you’ll be seeing soon on a handful of Metro buses in downtown Seattle.

    • New anti-terrorist measures unveiled
    • Baywatch actress ‘singled out for body scan’

      Donna D’Errico, who also modelled for Playboy, believes she was deliberately targeted by TSA security officials because of her figure and career as a swimsuit pin up.

      “It is my personal belief that they pulled me aside because they thought I was attractive,” she told AOL Weird News.

    • Privacy watchdog to investigate treatment of travellers at airports

      Canada’s privacy watchdog has launched a sweeping audit to find out whether the federal government is doing enough to protect the privacy of air travellers, given the heightened focus on national security.

      Jennifer Stoddart, newly reappointed as the country’s privacy commissioner for a three-year term, has devoted many hours in recent years to taking on online giants Facebook and Google. Stoddart said “identity management” for citizens and consumers in the online world remains a priority — but so do national-security issues.

    • FBI memo raises Barbie child pornography fears
    • Air Force Is Through With Predator Drones

      Wave a tear-stained handkerchief for the drone that changed the face of air war: The Air Force won’t buy any more Predators. The Reaper drone is about to be in full effect.

  • Cablegate

    • Biden: US seeks to halt WikiLeaks

      Vice President Joe Biden says the Justice Department is looking at what the U.S. can do to stop more document releases from WikiLeaks.

      Biden says he won’t comment on that process, but has strong words about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (ah-SAHNJ’).

      Biden says if Assange conspired to get classified documents with a member of the U.S. military, then “that’s fundamentally different” than if a reporter were given classified material by a source.

    • MEPs debate Wikileaks case

      Spanish MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda (Greens/EFA) told the House that Assange revealed the truth and that should be protected.

    • Rove Suspected In Swedish-U.S. Political Prosecution of WikiLeaks

      Karl Rove’s help for Sweden as it assists the Obama administration’s prosecution against WikiLeaks could be the latest example of the adage, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”

      Rove has advised Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt for the past two years after resigning as Bush White House political advisor in mid-2007. Rove’s resignation followed the scandalous Bush mid-term political purge of nine of the nation’s 93 powerful U.S. attorneys.

    • ENISA statement on Wikileaks events

      The Agency today issues the following brief analysis of the information security events regarding Wikileaks.

    • WikiLeaks and the liberal mind

      The release by WikiLeaks of US government cables is a sheer triumph for transparency.

    • WikiLeaks vs The Machine

      Shiar Youssef, a spokesman for the UK pressure group Corporate Watch, called the withdrawal of corporate support for WikiLeaks “pretty disgusting”.

    • [ORG on] Wikileaks: stand up for free speech

      Companies including Amazon and PayPal have pulled the plug on Wikileaks, under direct pressure from the US government. As such, the US government is engaged in a campaign to suppress critical comment and free speech. They have a right to take the leaker to court, and no doubt will do so: but direct and personal political intervention to remove websites is highly dangerous.

      These companies now hold the keys to our ability to exercise our freedom of expression. This is a greater responsibility than playing nice with outraged politicians. Corporations should be insisting on the due process of law.

    • Daniel Ellsberg on Colbert Report: Julian Assange is Not a Criminal Under the Laws of the United States
    • Ellsberg on “Countdown With Olbmermann”: Leak the Pentagon Papers of Iraq and Afghanistan Through WikiLeaks
    • Naomi Wolf on rape, justice and Julian Assange
    • Anonymous and Operation Payback

      It’s unclear how Anonymous, or those represented by the Anon News post, want to proceed but certainly, moves such as the one perpetrated (word used advisedly) by whoever hacked Gawker, don’t help anyone.

      But without the direct actions taken by Operation Payback supporters, and Assange, we’d still be where we were a couple of years ago.

      Where do we go from here?

      The only way is up, and providing the fuel are the people behind both groups, disparate as they may seem to be.

    • Columbia j-school staff: WikiLeaks prosecution ‘will set a dangerous precedent’

      Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism faculty and officers tell President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder that “while we hold varying opinions of Wikileaks’ methods and decisions, we all believe that in publishing diplomatic cables Wikileaks is engaging in journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment” and that “as a historical matter, government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves.”

    • Our Leaky World

      WikiLeaks is only the beginning.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The Myth of Peak Oil Demand and the Example of Loma Prieta

      The demand-shift response to the Quake of ’89 is actually a helpful narrative to understand larger demand-shifts now taking place in the global oil markets. And, the story also helps to clarify the primacy of supply, and how demand is only inelastic up to certain barriers. Yes, it’s true that Bay area drivers used many highways and roadways that were affected in the quake: right up until the time they collapsed. The expense of replacing those highways however, and the opportunity for other transport solutions obviated a full resurrection in the years following the temblor. In the same way that this transportation demand was never fully rebuilt but shifted elsewhere to other solutions, the OECD bloc of Japan, Europe, and the United States have been downshifting their own demand for oil the past decade as oil prices have marched higher, shifting oil supply to other parts of the world. This ongoing earthquake, if you will, of relentlessly higher oil prices keeps removing tranches of oil demand from here in the OECD. And it’s never been rebuilt. This process been underway for at least five years, and shows no sign of reversing.

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs pay out $111million in bonuses despite taking billions in bailout money

      The bonuses were agreed in 2008 months before Goldman took $10billion of U.S. bailout money, but due to technicalities there is no way to stop the bank from paying them out.
      Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein will receive a bonus of $24million this year Goldman Sachs President and COO Gary Cohn will receive a bonus of $24million this year Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein (left) and President and COO Gary Cohn (right) will each receive a bonus of $24million this year Goldman’s largesse comes as America’s economy struggles to recover from financial meltdown caused by risky bank lending.

    • Opening the Bag of Mortgage Tricks

      ALL the revelations this year about dubious practices in the mortgage servicing arena — think robo-signers and forged signatures — have rightly raised borrowers’ fears that companies handling their loans may not be operating on the up and up.

    • No joy for many Madoff victims, despite settlement

      The news that some of Bernard Madoff’s victims could be getting half their money back was of little comfort to Richard and Cynthia Friedman, and others who saw their life savings erased in the mammoth fraud.

      Just days earlier, the Long Island couple learned that Richard’s 85-year-old mother was one of hundreds of longtime Madoff clients sued in recent weeks for millions by the trustee handling the case.

      “He is going after innocent people,” Cynthia Friedman said of the trustee, Irving Picard.

    • 1 arrested, 2 sentenced in mortgage fraud scheme

      The Woodbridge company, Total Realty Management, was formed in the mid-2000s by real estate agents Mark Dain and Mark Jalajel. The company marketed vacant pieces of land in the Carolinas as investment properties to be bought with no money down and no payments for two years.

      Buyers said that Dain and Jalajel told them the properties could be flipped quickly for easy profit and that the modest salaries of a schoolteacher or a delicatessen worker, who were already paying a home mortgage, were not a problem.

    • Hiring a Lawyer for Loan-Modification Help

      STRUGGLING homeowners can sometimes benefit from hiring a lawyer to try to modify a mortgage or avert foreclosure, but avoiding scam artists and sketchy practices requires vigilance.

    • Coal, Gold, and the Australian Dollar
    • No Economic Recovery In California

      If we take a look at California employment, for example, we see that there is in fact no economic recovery taking place in the nation’s largest state. None of the jobs lost in the financial crisis and recession have been replaced. Worse, that California’s employed population is now running at levels last seen ten years ago, means that the unemployment rate itself is very high, and is not coming down. Well, California like the rest of the United States has a bigger population now than ten years ago.

    • Mudslinging Comes Full Circle for House Oversight’s Darrell Issa [Old]

      Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has been receiving a lot of media attention for his gadfly role as ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Since the Obama administration took office, he’s aggressively pursued investigations against favorite GOP targets like ACORN and alleged wrongdoing by the administration in trying to keep Rep. Joe Sestak out of the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate race. Last week, he released a report entitled, “How the White House Public Relations Campaign on the Oil Spill is Harming the Actual Clean-up.”

    • Darrell Issa plans hundreds of hearings [Old]

      California Rep. Darrell Issa is already eyeing a massive expansion of oversight for next year, including hundreds of hearings; creating new subcommittees; and launching fresh investigations into the bank bailout, the stimulus and, potentially, health care reform.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • ‘The Internet Is Not a Lawless Place’

      Germany on Wednesday unveiled plans to beef up Internet privacy after a public outcry over Google’s Street View service. The new law would allow people to opt out from tracking services as well as ban services that combine data to create comprehensive profiles of individuals. German media on Thursday are critical of the plans, asking if they go far enough.

    • Court Rebuffs Obama on Warrantless Cell-Site Tracking

      A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected the Obama administration’s contention that the government is never required to get a court warrant to obtain cell-site information that mobile-phone carriers retain on their customers.


      The most significant and recent decision came Tuesday, when a different federal appeals court said for the first time the government must obtain a court warrant for an internet service provider to grant the authorities access to a suspect’s e-mail.

      The case that concluded Wednesday concerns historical cell-site location information, which carriers usually retain for about 18 months. The data identifies the cell tower the customer was connected to at the beginning of a call and at the end of the call — and is often used in criminal prosecutions and investigations.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Net neutrality rules: coming December 21

      That last comment refers to the brouhaha over Comcast’s demand for cash to deliver cached Netflix traffic to its subscribers, and its fight with Zoom Telephonics over cable modem testing (we’ll have a story on that battle soon).

      Also on the FCC agenda for December: a Notice of Inquiry on how to bring texting, photos, and video to 911 services.

    • How does a 5c download turn into a €2.60 download across an invisible border?

      That is not the case now, I am simply not satisfied with current levels of competition and prices. For example, retail data roaming prices have not matched falls in wholesale prices in 2010. In fact the average prices makes consumers’ eyes water. Frankly this is a nightmare for businesspeople, for tourists, for young people in particular.

    • Broadband prices dropping around the world, but not US

      A new study suggests that the United States could do better when it comes to home ISP prices. The Technology Policy Institute’s latest survey of the global high speed Internet market finds that US residential broadband subscription rates have “remained fairly stable” over the last three years, rising by just two percent.

      That’s good, of course, since they didn’t go way up. But residential broadband prices have fallen in most other countries, the paper notes—in some instances by as much as 40 percent.

    • Another Reminder That You Don’t Own Your eBooks: Amazon Removing More eBooks You ‘Bought’ From Archives

      It still appears that the books themselves are no longer for sale. That’s Amazon’s prerogative, of course, but the lack of explanation still seems pretty weak — especially after supposedly defending not being about censorship. Also, there is no explanation of just what kind of technical “glitch” this was. Considering the trouble the company got into for deleting books in the past, you would think this would have been more carefully reviewed. Finally, the fact that it took nearly a week and numerous high profile media mentions to get Amazon to respond to questions from the authors is pretty weak customer service.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Why Are Rosetta Stone & Google Hiding Details In Court Case… And Why Is The Judge Allowing It?

      Paul Levy has been staying on top of a rather important aspect of the ongoing Rosetta Stone/Google lawsuit over whether or not Google is liable for trademark infringement over keywords ads that might point to counterfeit copies of Rosetta Stone software. So far, Rosetta Stone has lost badly and it seems likely that will continue. However, what caught Levy’s attention is that in the appeal, both sides worked out an agreement to file certain aspects of their briefs “under seal” thus hiding from the public large segments of the facts related to this case that will surely set an important precedent one way or the other. That’s hugely problematic and Levy complained about it. Both companies agreed to unseal their briefs, though Google has not yet done so, and Rosetta Stone only did so at the last minute, leaving little to no time for potential amici to make use of the unredacted filings in making their own arguments. However, once Rosetta Stone’s brief was released unredacted, it was quickly realized that the redacted sections had no reasons for the redactions in the first place, as they did not contain confidential information at all.

    • What do we pay our embassies for?

      According to some of the documents posted on Wikileaks, to lobby, nudge, pressure, threaten … (I let you pick the right one) foreign governments into adopting stricter “IP” laws, in order to “protect” our “strategic interests” in their countries.

    • What Has Gotten Into The Water Over At IPWatchdog.com?

      Quinn himself admits: “I know that over the last several years I have not been one to want to jump up and down over the problems created by patent trolls…”

      I hope that this will mark the opening of a more constructive dialogue. If these posts of his are any indication, then we actually share the same broad goal of maximizing innovation. Before now, I honestly wasn’t sure he placed that goal as the prime directive.

    • Patents and copyrights worsen natural monopolies

      David Leonhardt reviews a new book, titled THE MASTER SWITCH The Rise and Fall of Information Empires by Tim Wu link here. The theme of the book is that “History shows a typical progression of information technologies from somebody’s hobby to somebody’s industry; from jury-rigged contraption to slick production marvel; from a freely accessible channel to one strictly controlled by a single corporation or cartel from open to closed system.”

    • MPAA Shuts Down 29 BitTorrent and NZB Sites

      The MPAA and their colleagues in The Netherlands appear to have shut down more than two dozen BitTorrent, Usenet and other file-sharing sites today. Accused of linking to movies, music, TV shows and games, at least one domain appears to be redirecting to the website of Dutch anti-piracy outfit, BREIN.

    • Copyrights

      • Motion Picture Association seeks to force BT to block film downloading site

        According to the Guardian, the Motion Picture Association filed an injunction against BT yesterday. The injunction requests that BT block access to a website called Newzbin2 because it links to other websites who host pirated copies of television shows and films for free download.

      • Pirates Overwhelmingly Endorse AV

        This week, members of Pirate Party UK have been voting on whether the party should officially endorse a ‘Yes’ vote in the May Referendum on changing the electoral system to AV.

      • Record Labels Win Case Against Website Selling 25-Cent Beatles Songs

        A federal judge has ruled on summary judgment that BlueBeat.com is liable for violating copyrights in thousands of songs. In making the decision, the judge had swatted away one of the stranger defenses to infringement of sound recordings.

        Last year, BlueBeat made headlines for selling tracks for 25 cents and streaming songs for free. Most notably, the company was one of the only venues at the time that offered for sale digital tracks from The Beatles — and the only U.S.-based company that claimed to do so legally.

      • George Clinton Sues Black Eyed Peas Over Song Sample

        George Clinton has filed a copyright lawsuit against members of the Black Eyed Peas, UMG Recordings and Cherry Lane Music for allegedly sampling his song (Not Just) Knee Deep on a Grammy-award nominated album.

        According to the complaint, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Clinton’s song wound up in remixes of the Black Eyed Peas’ Shut Up, first released in 2003.

      • Owners Of Hiphop Blogs Seized By Homeland Security Still Haven’t Been Told Why

        The saga of the domains seized by Homeland Security’s Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) group continues to get more and more bizarre. We’d already noted that among the domains seized were a bunch of hiphop blogs that artists and record labels regularly used to promote their works and that at least the search engine Torrent-Finder was planning to fight back. As we noted at the time, it seemed like the blogs would have a much stronger case, as there’s pretty clear First Amendment problems with the governments’ actions.

      • Righthaven’s New Target, Lowcountry912, is in Core First Amendment Territory

        The post that got Lowcountry912 in trouble was a repost (now removed) of a September 23, 2010 column from Denver Post columnist Mike Rosen that was styled as an open letter to Tea Partyers.

      • Author Tries Honest Approach To File Sharers: Not Upset, But If You Want To Support Me, Here’s How

        While I’m not convinced this strategy is as sustainable as focusing on giving people real scarce reasons to buy, it’s still nice to see more folks not reacting in angry ways that tend to only make the problem worse.

      • ACTA

      • Canada

        • FACT CHECK: Ministers Moore and Clement on the Private Copying Levy

          Performers are calling on Industry Minister Tony Clement and Heritage Minister James Moore to stop spreading misinformation about the proposed extension of the private copying levy and using artists’ rights to compensation as a crass political tool. The Ministers held a press conference today in Ottawa where they repeated a number of outright falsehoods regarding the private copying levy.

        • Liberals Stake Out Positions on Bill C-32
        • ITBusiness.ca’s top 5 videos of 2010

          ITBusiness caught Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore describing copyright reform critics as “radical extremists” that were acting “babyish” in an address to business leaders at the Toronto Board of Trade.

Clip of the Day

Violent clashes erupt in Italy after Berlusconi survives no-confidence vote

Credit: TinyOgg

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