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02.05.11

Links 5/2/2011: GNOME 3.0 and Android 3.0 Honeycomb Are Nearly Here

Posted in News Roundup at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 5 Things I Hate Most About Linux

    * coming in at #5 is the fact that using the GNU/Linux operating system causes me great distress due to the guilt of not having paid $300+ to purchase this operating system in a very earth-unfriendly, made-in-China package from my local Bloat Buy retail software outlet.

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • What makes IBM’s Watson run?

      It’s looking pretty good for Watson, IBM’s Linux-powered computer cluster, as IBM engineers get it ready for its mid-February showdown with Jeopardy’s all-time champs, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Watson has already won a practice round and Bodog, the online gambling company and odds-maker has made Watson the favorite at 5/6. Even if Watson doesn’t win, the mere fact that it can compete at this level is amazing.

    • Does SAN Make Tape Backups Obsolete?

      It’s time to toss tape in favor of SAN for reliable backup and restore solutions. Don’t forget to update your resume on your way out to the dumpster with those tapes. Right?

    • Open source to bust up Cisco Borg collective?

      Vyatta has been aspiring to topple Cisco from its throne for several years. Based on Cisco’s most recent earnings, it doesn’t seem to be working. At all.

      It’s not for lack of trying, or for a lack of chutzpah. Vyatta chief execuive Kelly Herrell has been putting an expiration date on Cisco’s fortunes since the small open-source startup was formed, but to little effect.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 2.6.37: Scalability Improvements Abound

      Another major feature that was added to btrfs in 2.6.37 was asynchronous snapshot creation. The benefit of this features is that you don’t have to wait for a new snapshot to be committed to the disk. You can use this feature by adding “async” to the “btrfs subvolume snapshot” command.

      Believe it or not, the asynchronous snapshot creation capability was added primarily with ceph in mind. Remember that ceph was added a few kernel versions ago and is a distributed parallel file system that is still under heavy development. Ceph uses btrfs as the underlying file system (Ceph can arguably be called a meta file system since it is file system on top of a file system). There is more on Ceph itself later in this article.

      A somewhat minor feature that was added to btrfs in the recently released 2.6.37 kernel is the ability to delete sub-volumes by unprivileged users. However, the user can only delete the sub-volume if they have “write” and “execute” permission on the sub-volume root inode. Otherwise they don’t have permission to delete it. The option “-o user_subvol_rm_allowed” can be used during the mounting of btrfs to enable this option.

    • Custom Kernels on Debian

      Today, while reading through the Ubuntu Alpha 2 release notes I noticed that it ships with kernel 2.6.38-rc2, and that it also contains the famous ‘200 line patch‘ that improves desktop performance on high loads. I wanted in on that, but the newest pre-built Debian kernels are on 2.6.37. I thought that I might as well see how much work it is to install a vanilla kernel these days, and as it turns out, it’s incredibly easy.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE 4.6 review

        - KDE 4.6 has some delights in terms of graphics. The new wallpaper by Nuno is really cool. There are icons for compiled html files (chm) and also for portable compiled format(pcf) files. There is a new pointing cursor too.

      • Activities – A change in workflow?

        Ever since the introduction of the activity concept in KDE Plasma Workspaces, it has caused confusion to many people. To spread some inspiration I wrote a blog post some time ago with examples of how I used activities. It ended up being one of my most popular posts, which was somewhat unexpected. This seemed to suggest that many still didn’t know what to use activities for.

      • Konstruktor: back and alive!

        I’ve been very busy doing my full time job for last two years. Along with my job, I was slowly working on my project called KLDraw (and then Klotz) in my spare time.

        Many things have changed. I renamed it Konstruktor (yeah, I know that was an awkward decision), refined UI and rewrote the rendering code from the scratch. Now I believe this one is almost feature complete and comparable to major LDraw-based CADs out there (MLCad, LeoCAD, Bricksmith, …)

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 2nd January 2011
    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME 3.0: Making the same mistakes as KDE 4.0?

        Just like KDE 4, GNOME 3 tries to explore some new innovative desktop stuff, but just like KDE 4 in its first versions, it feels extremely unpolished and very unfinished, resulting in a rather cumbersome experience.

      • Split-pane feature of Nautilus

        Nautilus is the default file manager for GNOME Desktop environment. Its a wonderful tool if used to its fullest. Recently, a friend of mine told me a pretty good feature of nautilus – the split-pane. If you guys have ever used gnome commander or midnight commander you would know what I am talking about.

      • FOSDEM – New version of GNOME 3 live image

        And for FOSDEM, I’ve updated GNOME 3 live cd/usb image to version 0.0.3 : its adds more packages (including empathy), update some components to more recent version (although you won’t have the latest 2.91.6 GNOME 3 pre-release, since it was a little too late to get it in time for FOSDEM).

      • GNOME 3 approaches completion

        The GNOME project has released development version 2.91.6 of GNOME. This is the fourth development release on the way to GNOME 3.0, which the developers currently plan to release on 4 April; before that, they intend to release two betas and a release candidate (RC). In their release email, the developers indicate that the completed version is slowly coming into view; they also say that they have made many major improvements to the shell, to the Control Center and to various other GNOME components.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Bodhi Linux: Enlightened Ubuntu

        If you are looking for a distribution to showcase the Enlightenment desktop environment, you can not go wrong with Bohdi Linux. With the foundation of Ubuntu 10.04 and E17, it’s made for speed, stability, and user-friendliness.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Atalanta buys big chunk of Red Hat

        According to LionShares.com, ASM has bought nearly 4.4 million shares of the Raleigh software company — or 2.3 percent of the outstanding shares, a stake worth $189 million as of the close of trading Thursday. LionShares, which tracks ownership stakes in public companies, lists the source of its information as a 13 F Form filed Dec. 31, 2010. LionShares does not list ASM as having had a prior stake in Red Hat.

      • Fedora

        • Beyond FUDCon: Faces, Features and Future of Fedora

          The North American Fedora User and Developer Conference (FUDCon) was held on Arizona State University campus in Tempe Arizona from January 29 -31, 2011 and proved to be the largest FUDCon to date with over 200 people pre-registered to attend and final attendance numbers estimated around 175 people.

        • Fudcon 2011: Day 3

          Monday, the final day of Fudcon came early as usual. :) I had a nice breakfast in the hotel and chatted with serveral Fedora folks, then headed off to the Venue. We were in the student union building with a number of rooms on the second floor. We did a bit of waiting on various people, and setting up laptops and work areas, then started back in on the Fedora Governance hackfest. We didn’t get too far into that before I slipped out to meet up with Jesse Keating and other Rel-Eng folks to go over processes on restarting signing servers and other updates tasks. I slipped back into the Governance talk after that, but it wasn’t long until we decided to just break for lunch and see about presenting what we had so far as a ‘Here is what we have now, how can we make it better’ type document.

    • Debian Family

      • Whats new in Debian Squeeze?

        For many, what differentiates Ubuntu from Debian is its Graphical installer. With the release of Debian Squeeze, Debian introduces a new graphical installer giving a clear signal that it also wants user friendliness. This is a clear sign that Debian has interest in home users too. Until now, Debian which is famous for its “stability”, was mainly used by sys admins and “power” users. This article looks at some of the “striking” features of the new Debian release codenamed Squeeze.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal Alpha 2 Review, Screenshots

          This is a welcome development. Unity now lists the installed applications in the above format. Though it looks good, it not very user friendly yet. There are no categories as we saw in GNOME Shell before and it is not very stable as well. Still requires a lot of work.

        • Ubuntu 11.04 ‘Natty Narwhal’ Alpha 2 Released – Overview and Screenshots

          Ubuntu 11.04 ‘Natty Narwhal’ has been released. With Ubuntu 11.04 the new Unity interface has become default for Desktop version as well.

        • Canonical brings Ubuntu to the OpenStack Cloud

          Historically, Canonical has been allied with the other popular open-source cloud stack, Eucalyptus since it began working in clouds. Indeed, Canonical, in partnership with Dell, has just launched a private cloud server package using the Eucalyptus cloud platform.

          Be that as it may, Canonical’s Cloud Solutions Lead, Nick Barcet, announced that Canonical was including the latest OpenStack software release, Bexar “in the repositories for Ubuntu 11.04 as well as officially joining the community. We have been engaged with the OpenStack community informally for some time. Some Canonical alumni have been key to driving the OpenStack initiative over in Rackspace and there has been a very healthy dialogue between the two projects with strong attendance at UDS (Ubuntu Developer Summit) and at the OpenStack conferences by engineers in both camps.”

        • OpenStack Expands with Glance, Ubuntu and Cisco

          The OpenStack open source cloud computing platform is out today with a new release codenamed Bexar, introducing new cloud computing and storage technologies. Bexar provides support for IPv6 as well as the ability to have unlimited storage. The Bexar release also includes preliminary support for Glance – a new technology that will enable cloud image discovery and delivery.

        • Ubuntu 11.04 Alpha 2 Has Support for Sandy Bridge
        • About our recent upgrade and…downtime

          Hi, I’m Phil. I work in the Online Services group at Canonical in the Operations and Foundations group. We work on keeping Ubuntu One up and humming along and improving its core technologies.

          I wanted to take a moment and apologize for the extension of our planned downtime on Tuesday morning. I was unable to anticipate the problem and since it happened roughly 3/4 of the way through the total process it wasn’t possible to roll back and restore the service in its previous state.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Kubuntu Natty Alpha 2 Released
          • Lubuntu Screencast: Metapackages

            In this screencast I talk about metapackages and give you brief explaination of what it is. Then I also show you as an example the removal of ace-of-penguins which triggers the removal of the lubuntu-desktop metapackage.

          • Linux Mint And My First 45 Days Reviewed

            So how has the experience been for me? It has actually been easy. Easy because I have found that my requirements for Linux or Windows is actually minimal and requires the basic softwares that either came with Mint, or that I upgrade and installed myself. The software I added were the additional applications for Open Office, GnuCash to replace Quickbooks, Google Earth and a few games to entertain myself when boredom strikes.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • The Tiny Hackable Linux Pogoplug Pro

      The Pogoplug Pro is one of three plug-computer devices offered from CloudEngines. It is the only one of the three to include built-in WiFi. In all other aspects it’s virtually identical to the original Pogoplug with the exception of color (black for the Pro, pink for the original). Simplicity is the theme for all Pogoplugs coupled with easy access. CloudEngines includes their My.Pogoplug.com service to provide access to your Pogoplug device from any desktop computer (Linux, Mac OS X and Windows) and a wide range of mobile devices (Android, Blackberry, iPad and iPhone ).

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Google says Honeycomb will not come to smartphones

          Google has officially announced that Honeycomb will not be coming to Android based smartphones. Android 3.0 Honeycomb was specifically made for Tablets according to a Google spokesperson. Although, certain features that are present on Honeycomb will become available over time on Android smartphones. Google has not offered any information to what features will be ported over specifically.

        • Google launches Android Market on the web

          Originally, Google’s presentation yesterday at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, was expected to revolve mainly around Honeycomb, the tablet version of Android. However, the real news was about Android app’s: firstly, Android Market is now also available on the web; secondly, Android users will be able to buy content from within their apps – via “in-app” purchases.

        • Android 3.0 Honeycomb: Google’s big mobile play

          Google developers yesterday released Android 3.0, the latest version of the company’s mobile operating system. This release of Android (Honeycomb) could well be one of the most important for Google which is gunning for a share of the tablet PC market in addition to the cellphone market share it has already captured.

        • Disney Lays Out Its Plan for Android [VIDEO]
    • Sub-notebooks

      • The Cr-48 and Chrome OS: Google’s vision of the net

        The hardware itself is quite nice at a first glance. This machine is not a netbook; it is a small notebook device which clearly has taken some inspiration from Apple’s hardware. Except, of course, that Apple’s machines are not jet black, with no logos or markings of any type. It exudes a sort of Clarke-ian “2001 monolith” feel. There’s an Intel Atom dual-core processor, 2GB of memory, and a 16GB solid-state drive. The silence of the device is quite pleasing; also pleasing is the built-in 3G modem with 100MB/month of free traffic by way of Verizon (which, unsurprisingly, is more than prepared to sell you more bandwidth once that runs out). Other connectivity includes WiFi and Bluetooth (though there appears to be no way to use the latter); there is no wired Ethernet port. There’s a single USB port, an audio port, a monitor port, and what appears to be an SD card reader. Battery life is said to be about eight hours. Despite the small disk, it’s a slick piece of hardware.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Creator of Instant Messaging Protocol to Launch App Platform for Your Life

    Jeremie Miller is a revered figure among developers, best known for building XMPP, the open source protocol that powers most of the Instant Messaging apps in the world. Now Miller has raised funds and is building a team that will develop software aimed directly at the future of the web.

  • Rainbird: The Way Twitter Counts Tweets In Realtime (Which Will Be Open Sourced)

    It’s fairly technical, but also pretty easy to follow along with. If you’re at all interested in how Twitter acquires, stores, and uses the massive amount of data they deal with, you should check it out. It also gives a glimpse into their Promoted Tweet analytics package (which looks quite nice).

  • Governance Issues May Bedevil Open Source Projects

    In fact, a new survey of 1,500 IT people conducted by Sonatype, a provider of open source project management software for application development, finds that almost half of them have standardized on some form of open source software, while another 26 percent said they make frequent use of it.

  • Events

    • SCALE 9x Schedule Firms Up
    • Southern California Linux Expo Schedule Firms Up

      The 9th Annual Southern California Linux Expo is less than four weeks away. This Expo is shaping up to be the best SCALE ever, with five tracks of quality presenters, over 80 exhibitors, and more content than it’s ever had.

      The 9th Annual Southern California Linux Expo is less than four weeks away. This Expo is shaping up to be the best SCALE ever, with five tracks of quality presenters, over 80 exhibitors, and more content than it’s ever had.

    • SCALE 9X across the snowy horizon

      Slammed by a blizzard, surrounded by bored kids, and achingly tired of what Winter has brought me this year, it’s enough to make me say, “Calgon, take me away!”

      Er, metaphorically speaking, of course.

      Still, there is some well-deserved relief in sight: this year, after a rather long hiatus, I will be attending the ninth edition of the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) in the has-to-warmer-than-Indiana city of Los Angeles.

  • Web Browsers

    • [Midori 0.3.0] Thousand and one bug fixes

      Thousand and one bug fixes, that’s what this release turned out to be. A long run of tweaks in various places rather than short and explosive. Kudos to Paweł for his great work, notably with bookmark import and export, including Netscape HTML import, and a new infobar prompting to install userscripts and -styles if the User Addons extension is activated.

    • virtual globe in the browser

      Latest stable version of Chrome 9 now has built-in support for WebGL. Hopefully this would increase the amount of people trying out various cool 3-D stuff, from the infamous Aquarium demo to the fancy Jelly Fish animation, and many others.

    • Chrome

      • Chrome 9 now final with Web Store, Instant and WebGL

        Google today posted a finished, stable version of Chrome 9. The update is the first non-beta to have the Chrome Web Store built-in and lets anyone in the US reach it through a new browser tab. The store packages apps in a way that Flash, HTML5 or other code behaves more like a conventional app download or sale with a list of installed apps to match.

      • Hack Chrome, Win $20,000 76
    • Mozilla

      • Is Upcoming Firefox 4 inspired by Google Chrome?

        Firefox button & Application’s Tab: The Firefox 4 beta has a Firefox button where all the menu items are constituted. The Firefox website also introduces an app tab that will house your most viewed pages (on installing and running Firefox 4 beta I could not find it).

      • An interesting way to determine if you are logged into social web sites

        Do you remember the trick how to find out that you went to certain web sites by analysing link colour (now patched in Firefox)? There is much your browser tells about you if you just create a few HTML elements.

      • Design Jam London #2: An ‘Open Design’ initiative supported by Mozilla Labs & City University London

        Event Details

        Date: 26 February 2011 (Saturday)
        Time: 08:30 – 18:00
        Venue: University City London, Northampton Square – WC1V 6NX

      • An Overview of the AMO Review Process
      • Firefox Extension Options Menu Add-On

        Many Firefox extensions come with an options page to customize their behavior, interface or functionality. These pages are sometimes accessible through context menus if an icon of the extension is displayed in the Firefox interface. Most of the time however no direct options access is available which means that users have to open the Firefox add-on manager to open the options of the extension there. This is not the most user friendly way, especially if the options need to be accessed regularly.

      • Mozilla font rendering fix

        As a Ubuntu user you may notice Mozilla applications do not obey the Gnome appearance settings with respect to the font rendering.

      • quora answer #2: drm in webm

        WebM is the VP8 video codec and the Vorbis audio codec packaged in the Matroska-like WebM container. It is not the job of the codecs or the container to perform digital rights management.

  • SaaS

    • OpenStack vs. Eucalyptus: Cloud Rivals or Friends?

      At first glance, OpenStack is an open source platform for service providers and Eucalyptus is an open source platform for private clouds. But if you listen closely to vendors in the market, some folks think OpenStack and Eucalyptus will wind up competing for the hearts and minds of cloud integrators and service providers.

    • an interview with Fred Lloyd (AA7BQ), publisher of QRZ.com

      The original software was custom written in C. Later we moved to Informix and then to MySQL. Today most of the programming is done in Perl, with some PHP.

  • Databases

    • Here are the notes on Installing node.js module for firebird and testing it on Amazon EC2

      Here are the notes on Installing node.js module for firebird and creating a simple http service derived from the module examples…

    • MariaDB Can’t Be Sold Like MySQL: Exclusive Interview

      The recent spat between Oracle and the Hudson project, which ended up in a fork of the project with re-naming, made us think what future holds for MySQL which seems to be the only FOSS project left to be hit by Oracle. The sword may come down anytime. So, we set out to see how well MariaDB is doing, a database created by no one else but the creator of MySQL. MariaDB is backed by the company Monty Program Ab founded by the creator of MySQL. Here is an exclusive interview with Colin Charles, Chief Evangelist, MariaDB, Monty Program Ab & Rasmus Johansson, COO, Monty Program Ab.

  • Oracle/Java/LO

    • Rating OpenJDK Governance
    • Is OpenJDK Open-By-Rule?

      When I published my Open-By-Rule Benchmark earlier this week, I promised that I would test it against the new proposed governance for the OpenJDK community, a project started by Sun under my co-direction as a home for open source development of a GPL-licensed version of the Java platform.

      For various reasons, the OpenJDK governance was never fully defined and the entire subject has been silent for over a year.

    • LibreOffice Faenza Icons

      By default, Faenza uses the OpenOffice icons for LibreOffice. But if you’re using LibreOffice, you may want some custom Faenza icons for it – there are no official icons yet but Funnyguy has created some beautiful Faenza Libreoffice icons which you can download via Gnome Look.

    • What an office suite should look like

      And so be it. We’ve seen what the office suite market has to offer. Frankly, it’s all good, but not good enough. We’re haunted by the ghosts of the past, the typewriters of the 80s and the engineers of the 70s, who used to rack up their telemetry readings on impact printers. Office suites are big, bloated, counterintuitive, and inefficient. Even the best and most modern products today fall short of the mark. A few manage a moment of brilliance, like Google Docs, Lotus Symphony and OOo4Kids, but then it goes bonkerous from there.

      The most important change required in the modern office suite is the change of mind. We must get rid of the legacy monkey effect and work on making productivity software productive. We must focus on shedding away the 90% crud that pollutes the office programs, make them lean and mean, make them more smartly integrated with rich media, enforce mandatory styling, improve visibility and design.

      Browser-like tabs, drag and drop features, instant graphics, all of these sound trivial considering what we have out there, but none of these features have yet reached the domain of the office suite. This has to change – and soon.

      Well that’s all. I’ve done my rant – and shared my sagacious ideas. If you feel like you have something useful to contribute, do feel free to mail me using your office suite mail program. We need to talk about those too, but that’s a different article altogether.

  • CMS

    • A Debian blog created with FlatPress

      After writing my entry on CMS and blog software that doesn’t require a database, one of the commenters recommended FlatPress.

      It’s not just the name (a play on WordPress, on the off-off-off chance that you missed that particular bit of wordplay). OK, a lot of it is the name. By way of explanation, it’s called FlatPress because it stores its data in “flat” files and not in a database, such as the MySQL that powers the back end of WordPress and innumerable other content-management platforms.

      [...]

      Another thing: While a WordPress.org blog can be moved from one site to another (between URLs on one hosting provider, or to an entirely different web server), moving a FlatPress blog is even easier. You just grab the directory, then move it (via FTP, or the console if you have access) where you want it. Update the URL of your web site in the FlatPress admin area and you’re good to go.

    • If you have access to a web server, create a simple, database-free blog in 5 minutes with FlatPress
    • Dries Buytaert talks Drupal and leadership in open source

      Drupal creator and project lead, Dries Buytaert, speaks passionately about the company he began as a hobby during his college days, with the business reach of Buytaert now extending into software company Acquia and Mollom.

      Computerworld Australia caught up with Buytaert while he was in Australia for the first DrupalDownunder 2011 conference held last month in Brisbane, with the developer addressing claims that Drupal is a complex content management system (CMS) that becomes unmanageable once it is customised.

  • Healthcare

    • Feds eye open source model for medical data systems

      On a mission to modernize, the US government is eyeing an Internet-based healthcare system for easy sharing of health related data between doctors, medical institutions and patients.

      As part of this initiative, the government hopes to move all medical records online where doctors can quickly and securely access them.

  • BSD

    • Available: PC-BSD 8.2-RC3

      Following the release of FreeBSD 8.2-RC3, the third Release Candidate for PC-BSD 8.2 was announced today by Kris Moore, Lead Developer of PC-BSD.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Nominations open for the Free Software Awards

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the GNU Project have announced that they are now accepting nominations for this year’s Free Software Awards. The annual awards recognise an individual and one project for their contributions to the progress and development of free software.

  • Project Releases

    • OpenSSH 5.8 released

      OpenSSH is a 100% complete SSH protocol version 1.3, 1.5 and 2.0 implementation and includes sftp client and server support.

  • Government

    • Only one-third of agencies pass the Federal Open Technology Report Card

      Open Source for America (OSFA) recently published a report card on open technology and open government across several U.S. federal government departments and agencies. The results: One-third of agencies received a passing grade. OSFA, a coalition launched in July 2009 to encourage U.S. federal government support of and participation in open source projects and technologies, worked with government departments and agencies to develop the methodology and rate each group. (According to OSFA, 2010 marked the first year federal government agencies were operating under the Directive and Open Government Plans.)

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • OpenStreetMap’s point of no return

        The new license – the Open Database License (ODBL) – is well understood. The ODBL is an attempt to stretch European-style database rights to the point where they cover the database worldwide. To that end, the ODBL is explicitly written as a contract – a crucial difference from most free licenses, which try to avoid contract law entirely. The ODBL must take this approach because the OpenStreetMap database, being primarily factual in nature, is not easily covered by copyright. A license which relied strictly upon copyright law would risk being unenforceable in much of the world.

Leftovers

  • Don’t Panic! It’s only the Internet running out of Addresses
  • The Birther Plan To Block Obama’s Reelection

    Last week, Arizona state Rep. Judy Burges, a Republican, introduced a bill that would bar presidential candidates who do not prove they were born in the United States from appearing on the ballot in the Grand Canyon state. And state Rep. Chad Campbell, the top Democrat in the GOP-controlled Arizona House of Representatives, tells Mother Jones that the bill is likely to pass. It was introduced with 25 co-sponsors in the House and 16 co-sponsors in the state Senate; the measure needs 31 votes in the House and 16 in the Senate for approval. “Will it matter?” asks Campbell. “We’ve started a tradition here of passing legislation that is political grandstanding or that sets up litigation.”

  • Forget mandatory voting. Canada should be paying people to go to the polls

    From the Second World War until the end of the 20th century, roughly 75 percent of eligible voters consistently cast ballots in federal elections. During the Jean Chrétien era, however, that number began to drop and has been declining ever since.

  • The Distributed Party Of ‘We’ Is Already In Control

    I tend not to be much of a believer in political “parties.” They always seem to get lost in groupthink around what’s best for “the party,” rather than what’s best, period. I even tend to have issues with groups like The Pirate Party. While I support many of the ideals and concepts within the party’s platform, I don’t agree with everything they have to say, and still think the use of “pirate” in the name, while attention grabbing and perhaps useful in the short-term, is quite limiting long-term. And yet, I’m certainly intrigued by a lot of what’s been happening over the past few months, in terms of somewhat ad hoc groups coming together and protesting things they just know are not right. While I still don’t agree with the denial of service tactics of “Anonymous” and its Operation Payback, I’ve been saying for a while that this really is a moment when centralized top-down legacy systems are coming into conflict with distributed, decentralized, bottom-up systems — and not understanding them at all.

  • A Supreme Conflict of Interest

    Did these two men, Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, have a shocking and undisclosed conflict of interest when they ruled on the Citizens United case — which opened the floodgates to unlimited corporate political spending?

  • Daily Mail and Sun accused of contempt over online photos

    The attorney general today accused the Daily Mail and Sun of contempt of court over photographs published online showing a murder trial defendant “posing with a gun”.

    In what are believed to be the first cases of their kind relating to the internet, Dominic Grieve is asking the high court to punish the publishers of the Daily Mail and the Sun for displaying the pictures on their websites.

    The cases arise out of the Sheffield crown court trial in 2009 of Ryan Ward, who was eventually convicted of murdering car mechanic Craig Wass by hitting him over the head with a brick.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Will climate change burst the global ‘food bubble’?

      The world is in the midst of a “food bubble” that could burst at any time: that’s the conclusion of the eminent environmentalist Lester Brown, who I met yesterday to discuss his latest book.

      He argues we are “one bad harvest away from chaos” and that “food has become the weak link in our civilisation”. Here’s my summary of his reasoning.

  • Security

    • Mailing list application Majordomo reveals file content
    • Security updates for Friday
    • How to Hack an ATM

      Turning automated teller machines into your personal piggy bank is easy—alarmingly easy. That’s the message of Barnaby Jack, a software-cracking whiz turned digital-security researcher. He has demonstrated his hacking prowess at events like DefCon, coaxing ATMs into spitting out wads of cash in less than a minute using scripting know-how, a few simple tools, and some Googling. Here’s his method.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Egypt 2011-2-3

      Global response has been clear with advice to have change to democracy sooner or later. The violence has persuaded moderates that only violence will effect change. The anti-Mubarak protestors realize that if they withdraw they will be hunted down and subdued. Their main hope for the future is to win the mini-civil war. Everyone seems to want to avoid a global civil war but Mubarak and his supporters are not yet persuaded that change must come soon.

    • Canadians in shadow of death in Iran

      In October, 2008, Saeed Malekpour’s new life in Canada looked as golden as the sunlight on the autumn foliage.

      With a degree in metallurgical engineering from a prestigious Iranian university he was happily settled in Ontario and about to enroll in a master’s program at University of Victoria.

    • Get Involved: The Case of Saeed Malekpour, Canadian Resident Sentenced to Death
    • The Case of Saeed Malekpour: Web Developer Jailed Since 2008 (Updated 12/13/10)
    • Israeli forces raid Silwan, attempted arrest of Adnan Ghaith’s son

      Israeli special forces police raided Silwan today at dawn, storming several homes, including that of banished al-Bustan Popular Committee member Adnan Ghaith.

    • Palestinian human rights activist jailed in Israel

      Amnesty International has urged the Israeli authorities to end their harassment of Palestinian human rights activists after a well-known campaigner in Haifa was jailed for nine years and given an additional one-year suspended sentence earlier today.

      Ameer Makhoul, a longstanding Palestinian activist, was convicted on various counts of having contact with enemies of Israel and espionage after a plea bargain agreement at his trial. He was originally charged with an even more serious offence, “assisting an enemy in war”, which could have carried a life sentence, but that was dropped by the prosecution when he agreed to a plea bargain.

    • 18 Israeli & American Jewish Groups Strongly Oppose Court`s Failure to Stop Israeli Govt & JNF from Wiping Out Bedouin Village

      18 Israeli and American Jewish groups: Strongly oppose Beer Sheva District Court¡¯s failure to grant a permanent injunction preventing Israeli Government and Jewish National Fund (JNF) bulldozers from resuming work to plant a JNF forest over Negev Bedouin village of Al-Arakib

    • Mubarak is on his way out. But the regime is still very much in power

      Hosni Mubarak is finally on his way out. But the regime he presided over for 30 years is still very much in power and will remain so until a new order can be established, optimally through free and fair elections. That represents an enormous challenge.

    • Egypt protesters react angrily to Mubarak’s televised address

      The crowd had rigged up a huge screen to show al-Jazeera. Mubarak’s speech was broadcast live. As he announced that he would not be standing for another term, the rally exploded in anger.

      The screen was pelted with bottles and the cry “Irhal, irhal” went up repeatedly: “Leave, leave”. It was taken up by the hundred thousand people who thronged Tahrir Square. At one point demonstrators held up their shoes to the screen – an insulting gesture in Arab culture.

    • Harsh Interrogations of Children Escalate in Nabi Saleh

      14 year old Islam Tamimi was arrested in a night raid on Sunday 23 January 2011 and subjected to psychological torture in order to extract dictated false testimony that will be used to incriminate and prosecute villagers in Nabi Saleh.

    • TSA tests new body scanning system in Las Vegas

      Federal aviation officials are giving airport scanners another try. This time, they are not looking as closely under traveler’s clothes.

      The Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday began testing a new, more modest body scanning system at three airports. They hope it will assuage critics’ concerns that the nearly 500 full-body scanners at 78 airports reveal too much.

      “We believe it addresses the privacy issues that have been raised,” TSA chief John Pistole said at a news conference at Reagan National Airport in Washington, one of the airports testing the technology.

    • Forget Your “Junk”—The TSA Wants to Feel Up Your Mind

      IF YOU’RE UNHAPPY with the choice between having the Transportation Security Administration “porno-scanning” you or touching your junk, this might also freak you out: The TSA is trying to read your mind. Since June 2003, it’s been monitoring travelers’ facial expressions and body language for signs that they might be hiding something. As of March 2010, the TSA’s Screening Passengers by Observational Techniques (SPOT) program had 3,000 “behavior detection officers” in more than 150 airports. Their job is to strike up conversations with passengers at security checkpoints, checking for what one TSA official describes as “behaviors that show you’re trying to get away with something you shouldn’t be doing.” People who don’t display “normal airport behavior” may be stopped for questioning.

    • How Much Should We Spend on National Defense?

      On 4 August 1822, James Madison wrote a letter to W.T. Barry about the importance of popular education and, by inference, the importance of the relationship of the First Amendment to the task of holding an elected government accountable for its actions. He concluded his opening paragraph, setting the tone for the entire letter, by saying, “A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

      Nowhere is the farce and tragedy feared by James Madison more evident than in the national debate over if, or how much, the defense budget should be cut back as part of our efforts to reduce the deficit. With the defense budget at war with Social Security, Medicare, and needed discretionary spending in education, investments in infrastructure, and elsewhere, it is a tragedy that must be undone if we are to protect our middle class way of life.

    • No more free passes for Egypt and other Arab autocracies

      Bargains with the devil never end well. For decades, successive U.S. administrations have embraced autocratic, repressive regimes in the Arab world – and now, as we see in the bloody streets of Cairo, it’s time to pay the price.

      Officials in Washington could do little more than watch helplessly Wednesday as goon squads loyal to dictator Hosni Mubarak made a violent attempt to drive pro-democracy protesters out of Tahrir Square. Before learning of the deadly raid, White House chief of staff Bill Daley gave this honest assessment: “We don’t control this. And even though we like to think at times that we can control everything in the world . . . it truly is not up to us.”

    • Egypt Officials Seek to Nudge Mubarak Out

      The country’s newly named vice president, Omar Suleiman, and other top military leaders were discussing steps to limit Mr. Mubarak’s decision-making authority and possibly remove him from the presidential palace in Cairo — though not to strip him of his presidency immediately, Egyptian and American officials said. A transitional government headed by Mr. Suleiman would then negotiate with opposition figures to amend Egypt’s Constitution and begin a process of democratic changes.

    • The Dictator’s Speech

      What a relief it must be just to hear it, though. The streets are alive with human voices. Such speech is messy and conflict-ridden. You can hear, right now, on the streets of Cairo or Suez or Alexandria, as many opinions about what is going on, or what people want, or what has been done wrong, as you can find people. There is a chaos of speech, since the speech coming from civil society is always chaotic. It has none of the clarity of intent that would come from the speech of a competent dictator. It is the bubbling forth of a million unfiltered desires. And yet, it all manages to coalesce, for the moment, around one clear message. We want, everyone says, the end of the reign of Hosni Mubarak. We won’t take the dictation anymore. We want to speak again.

    • Disappearances up the ante in Tahrir Square

      He was almost too shaken by sobs to speak, this thin-shouldered man with missing teeth. Finally he was able to choke out the words: “I am afraid my son is dead.”

      At 16, the boy, Rabiyeh, was his father’s life and pride. Now he is missing, one of hundreds of people unaccounted for since the start of the 11-day-old rebellion against President Hosni Mubarak. Their loved ones fear they have been ensnared by Egypt’s vast security apparatus, a shadowy world from which many never emerge.

      Egypt’s disappeared haunt the collective consciousness; they are an emblem of life in a modern police state. The uprising convulsing the country is in part a reaction to sweeping police powers of three decades running, a key enforcement mechanism of Mubarak’s authoritarian rule.

    • Egyptian Mob Burns Al Jazeera’s Cairo Office

      Al Jazeera’s office in Cairo was stormed and burned today, the most dramatic evidence yet that Egyptian authorities are desperate to shut down the network widely praised for revealing the size and reach of the demonstrations.

    • Egyptian Government Intrudes on Mobile Operators

      Vodafone Group PLC and France Télécom SA, facing heat for complying with the Egyptian government’s order to pull the plug on their networks last week, said Thursday that Egypt’s government forced its way onto their mobile networks to send text messages directly to the country’s people.

    • Yemeni protesters turn out for ‘day of rage’

      By early morning, the number of anti-government activists in Sana’a had reached more than 20,000, the biggest crowd since a wave of protests hit the Arabian Peninsula state two weeks ago, inspired by demonstrations that toppled Tunisia’s ruler and threaten Egypt’s president.

    • Mubarak: ‘If I Resign Today There Will Be Chaos’ [Ed: another propaganda piece from ABC, calling hired thugs "supporters"]

      I asked President Mubarak about the violence that his supporters launched against the anti-government protesters in Liberation Square.

    • Egyptian bloggers to follow on Twitter
    • Gladwell Still Missing the Point About Social Media and Activism

      Although the topic of social media’s role in events in Tunisia and Egypt has been the focus of much commentary from observers such as Ethan Zuckerman and Jillian York of Global Voices Online, and also from Foreign Policy magazine columnist and author Evgeny Morozov, the response from Gladwell was all of about 200 words long. In a somewhat defensive tone, he suggested that if Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong had made his famous statement about how “power grows from the barrel of a gun” today, everyone would obsess over whether he made it on Twitter or Facebook or his Tumblr blog.

    • Expulsion and Explosion: How Leaving the Internet Fueled Our Revolution

      Ten days ago, I was re-tweeting anti-Mubarak sentiments and signing up for his tongue-in-cheek Farewell Party event on Facebook. I had no idea that the ideas expressed on these sites would ignite a whole country and lead all hell to break loose. Make no mistake: Facebook and Twitter helped connect thousands of frustrated Egyptians and united them under the single goal of overthrowing the regime. By underestimating a bunch of privileged, opinionated and fed-up vanguards, the Egyptian regime overlooked their impact on the rest of the people, and didn’t guess that crowds of middle- and lower-class Egyptians would follow their lead and unshackle the system’s long, strong grip.

      But when the ruling system realized the magnitude of what’s happening, they took no chances. Our entire communication system was shut down; Egyptian websites disappeared from the global Internet. Cell phones were no longer working. Same goes for texting, Internet, and Blackberry services. I first tried proxy sites or attempting an emergency calls, but there was no way around it — the services where shut down and we were walking in complete darkness. I had no idea what my family was up to, if any of my friends were caught or beaten by the police, and if we were regrouping again to go out and continue our demonstrations. Not to mention that I couldn’t watch Colbert take jabs at Mubarak. Getting to see my country being satirized alongside Glenn Beck gives me a sense of pop culture camaraderie that I find immensely comforting.

      But cutting us out from the rest of the world, from ourselves even, didn’t dismantle the revolt. If anything, it removed distraction and gave us a singular mission to accomplish. It was also seen as a desperate measure, one that could only be committed by a withering regime, and it empowered us.

    • Obama seeks quick Egypt handover

      Barack Obama has urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak “to make the right decision” to end weeks of unrest, and reiterated a call for an orderly transition of power “that begins now”.

    • Pro-Democracy Movements Are A “Virus”?!

      “McCain Calls Middle East Pro-Democracy Movement A ‘Virus’.”

      Remember how, when we invaded Iraq, democracy was supposed to bust out all over in the middle east — and that was a good thing?

      Well guess what: democracy is busting out all over in the middle east — and that’s a bad thing!

    • Guantanamo death highlights U.S. detention policy

      A 48-year-old Afghan citizen and Guantanamo detainee, Awal Gul, died on Tuesday of an apparent heart attack. Gul, a father of 18 children, had been kept in a cage by the U.S. for more than 9 years — since late 2001 when he was abducted in Afghanistan — without ever having been charged with a crime. While the U.S. claims he was a Taliban commander, Gul has long insisted that he quit the Taliban a year before the 9/11 attack because, as his lawyer put it, “he was disgusted by the Taliban’s growing penchant for corruption and abuse.” His death means those conflicting claims will never be resolved; said his lawyer: “it is shame that the government will finally fly him home not in handcuffs and a hood, but in a casket.” This episode illustrates that the U.S. Government’s detention policy — still — amounts to imposing life sentences on people without bothering to prove they did anything wrong.

    • When Did We Become The Ones We Weren’t?

      The current events in Egypt leave me very uncomfortable. Not the pro-democracy demonstrations — I support that in soul, mind and action — but the fact that the repressive regime is using surveillance technology developed by Western companies, mandated by Western authorities.

      I’m a Cold War kid. I remember the 1980s and grew up in a different world from today. Above all, international policy and everyday life alike was colored by the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

    • America loses another ally as Yemen’s President quits

      The President of Yemen, one of America’s foremost allies in the “war on terror”, has become the latest leader in the Middle East to announce he will be stepping down as he seeks to calm anger and stave off the street protests which have gripped Egypt and Tunisia.

    • Anonymous launches Operation Yemen

      Cyber activists affiliated with Anonymous have launched a digital campaign against websites operated by the government of Yemen.

      The latest round of DDoS attacks was initiated just days after the group participated in an online campaign against the Egyptian government to show solidarity with protestors across the strife-ridden country. 



    • Egypt’s military-industrial complex

      In early January 2010, Bob Livingston, a former chairman of the appropriations committee in the US House of Representatives, flew to Cairo accompanied by William Miner, one of his staff. The two men were granted meetings with US Ambassador Margaret Scobey, as well as Major General FC “Pink” Williams, the defence attaché and director of the US Office of Military Cooperation in Egypt. Livingston and Miner were lobbyists employed by the government of Egypt, helping them to open doors to senior officers in the US government. Records of their meetings, required under law, were recently published by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington, DC watchdog group.

      Although the names of those who attended the meetings have to be made public, the details of what was discussed are confidential. I called Miner to ask him about their meetings, but he referred me to Karim Haggag, the spokesman for the Egyptian embassy in Washington, who did not respond. Miner did confirm that he was a retired Navy pilot who had worked for clients like the Egyptian government, as well as several military contractors.

    • Cable illuminates why Yemenis engaged in “Day of Rage” [UPDATE]

      While Egyptians continue to maintain their uprising against President Hosni Mubarak with a “Day of Departure” today, it is worth looking at what happened in Yemen yesterday. An opposition coalition of Yemenis mobilized in defiance of a plea from President Ali Abdullah Saleh to not protest, rally or engage in any sit-ins, and held their own “Day of Rage.”

      The protests were considered to be the largest anti-government demonstration that Saleh has “faced in his 32-year rule.” The Guardian reported protesters chanted, “Together we fight against poverty, corruption and injustice.” Given what has been happening in Egypt, the protesters hoped to mobilize in their Tahrir Square, but the government “beat them” to the Square and sent “hundreds of tribesmen to camp out there overnight.”

      Protesters called for Saleh to “form a new government” and “let the Yemeni people decide who will rule them in clean, fair elections.”

    • What Mubarak must do before he resigns

      Egyptians have paid a heavy price the past three decades and an even steeper one since this revolution started. Let’s end Mubarak’s rule the right way so we can start building a better future.

  • Cablegate

    • Bradley Manning is UK citizen and needs protection, government told

      The British government is under pressure to take up the case of Bradley Manning, the soldier being held in a maximum security military prison in Virginia on suspicion of having passed a massive trove of US state secrets to WikiLeaks, on the grounds that he is a UK citizen.

      Amnesty International called on the government to intervene on Manning’s behalf and demand that the conditions of his detention, which the organisation calls “harsh and punitive”, are in line with international standards.

    • Gillard continues to get it wrong on Assange

      The latest statements by Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, as to her Government’s lack of responsibility concerning WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, continue to reflect a misunderstanding of key issues concerning Mr Assange, the Australian citizen facing extradition proceedings from the United Kingdom to Sweden, and the actions of the WikiLeaks organisation.

    • Paper Cut: NYT dumps WikiLeaks after cashing in on nobel cause
    • The Times Washes Away Julian Assange

      It is no secret that Bill Keller, the editor of the New York Times, detests Julian Assange. It is no secret because the New York Times Magazine just published Keller’s extraordinary account of his dealings with Assange, the whole point of which was that Keller detests Assange — and so, by virtue of his enmity, can allow himself the luxury of claiming ethical distance from him. Sure, Keller had to work with Assange and WikiLeaks in order to be in on the release of leaked documents and diplomatic cables, along with The Guardian and Der Spiegel and Le Monde. But that doesn’t mean he had to like it, and that certainly doesn’t mean he came away from the experience feeling unsullied. Indeed, although Keller’s piece at first promised the kind of editorial hand-wringing familiar to any devoted reader of the Paper of Record, what it ended up delivering instead was a hand-washing, an act typically private but this time carried out in public, with ad hominem attack serving as an antibacterial ointment. Imagine what the Bishop of Wittenberg might have written had he been forced to collaborate with Martin Luther on the posting of the 95 Theses, and you’ll get an idea of the tone that Bill Keller takes in writing about Julian Assange. He’ll do it — but he’ll reserve the right to hold his nose.

    • Fireside: NY Times Are Cowards
    • ‘Our time has come’ Assange tells rally

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says the era of the internet generation has arrived and he’ll continue to expose “abusive organisations”.

      Speaking in a recorded message to a public meeting in Melbourne on Friday, Mr Assange said can’t wait to be back in his home town and called on Australians concerned about his plight to take action.

    • UPDATE on Bloomberg reports about FBI contractor and WikiLeaks

      On January 20, WL Central reported “Bloomberg discloses FBI Contractor admits to Spying on Swedish”.

      Yesterday, Bloomberg reporter Michael Riley ‘re-drafts’ his flawed article as a magazine story in Bloomberg Business Week.

    • WikiLeaks cables: MI6 warns of new suicide bomb wave

      British-born radicals who undergo terrorist training and become “suicide operatives” will leave the authorities “hard pressed” to prevent an attack, according to a top counterterrorism official at the Secret Intelligence Service.

      The problem of home-grown terrorists is officially expected to blight Britain for years to come and “will not go away anytime soon”.

    • WikiLeaks cables: British Muslims travelling to Somalia for ‘jihadi tourism’

      The United Nations special envoy to Somalia was so worried about rebels linked to al-Qaeda that he urged the United States to launch targeted strikes against extremists in the region.

      But to the frustration of the Americans, Britain was slow to grasp the scale of the threat from Somalia, despite warnings that the largely lawless country was an “incubator” for terrorism.

      MI5 now believes jihadists from the al-Shabaab movement in Somalia represent a significant threat to Britain. Jonathan Evans, the director-general of MI5, publicly warned of the threat last year.

    • WikiLeaks cables: The British counter-terror programme that ‘fails to stop extremists’

      However, it has been accused of alienating and stigmatising Muslims and wasting taxpayers’ money funding groups that failed to deliver on the Government’s aims.

    • New York Times & Guardian Editors Will Support Assange if Prosecuted

      The New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger say they will stand with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange if prosecution is brought against him.

      At a Thursday night panel, hosted by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on the future of WikiLeaks and its effects on journalism, Jack Goldsmith, a prominent Harvard law professor and former assistant attorney general, said there is an “enormous amount of political pressure” to bring charges against Assange by the U.S. Department of Justice. At first, Goldsmith expressed the difficulty of extraditing Assange to the U.S. He then noted the many legal hurdles the department faces because, in the legal sense, Assange would be characterized as a journalist and defended as such.

    • Viva Cubaleaks!

      The translator’s note quoted here is at the foot of a post by Yoani Sánchez (right) on her current Generation Y blog. It refers to the video, La ciber policia en Cuba, below.

      “Given the length of this video I don’t think we will be able to prepare a translation”, it says, going on, “The gist of it is a detailed explanation of how Yoani and other dissident bloggers are classified by the [Cuban] government as counterrevolutionary enemies controlled from the U.S. and Spain.

    • Wikileaks Dissed and Distanced by the New York Times and the Guardian

      Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, and Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, assured the Columbia University audience last night that two of the main stream media are unimpressed with Wikileaks and Julian Assange. And that the main benefits of initiatives like Wikileaks will come from legacy journalism processing raw data into material the public can trust.

      Luridly misnamed, “Wikileaks: the Inside Story,” the event and the panel’s comments were remarkably over-managed and decorous. Held in Columbia’s great domed hall, Low Library, control of the audience and recording was firm as if threats of bodily harm and theft of conventional wisdom underlay the performance. Despite this security theater, what was said by the interlocutor, Emily Bell, a former Guardian employee now at Columbia, and the three panelists — Keller, Rusbridger and Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard law professor — was as dumb and boring as it could get, slightly enlivened by slurs against Julian Assange which elicited titters from the audience as if packed with MSM insiders and aspirants.

    • WikiLeaks cables: Ex-SAS officers hired as ‘human bait’ by foreign shipping firms

      British special forces veterans are in particular demand as ship guards because owners believe the Royal Navy will intervene to rescue them – and free their vessels – in the event of a hijacking.

      The revelation will increase concerns that the Royal Navy is being forced to act as an international police force because other navies are failing to pull their weight off the Horn of Africa.

      The US was alerted to the tactic in a cable sent from the American embassy in Tokyo in June 2009, which reported on loopholes in the security cover provided by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to ships carrying Japanese cargo through waters off Somalia. Because only two escort ships were available, some cargo firms instead employed “services offered by a British crisis consultant firm” to protect their vessels.

    • WikiLeaks cables: Nigeria pressured UK to drop charges against politician

      Nigeria’s attorney general attempted to blackmail British officials into abandoning the corruption case against Mr Ibori…

    • WikiLeaks cables: We can’t control Duchess of York, David Miliband told angry Turks

      Mr Miliband, foreign secretary at the time, told his Turkish counterpart that the Duchess could not “be controlled” as he tried to build bridges following the exposé of neglect in Turkish orphanages.

      The Duchess disguised herself with a black wig and headscarf to film secretly inside state-run institutions in Turkey for the ITV1 film Duchess and Daughters: Their Secret Mission, in 2008. The Turkish government was incensed, accusing the Duchess of a politically-motivated “smear campaign” aimed at ruining Turkey’s hopes of joining the European Union. In an attempt to placate the Turks, Mr Miliband invited the country’s foreign minister, Ali Babacan, to his constituency home in South Shields.

    • Julian Assange Speaks
    • WikiLeaks cables: Gordon Brown ‘forced to scrap plan for snap election’

      Gordon Brown abandoned plans for a snap general election in May, 2009, after the row over smear emails sent by his press aide, according to cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

    • WikiLeaks cables: US agrees to tell Russia Britain’s nuclear secrets

      Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.

      Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.

      The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website.

    • WikiLeaks cables: how America spied on the Foreign Office

      The disclosure casts a new light on the so-called “special relationship” between Britain and America, which has come under strain amid apparent indifference from the Obama administration towards Britain.

      Leaked diplomatic cables show that within weeks of the appointment of Ivan Lewis as a junior foreign minister in 2009, US officials were briefing the office of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, about rumours that he was depressed and had a reputation as a bully.

    • Terror camps still operating on Indo-Pak border: WikiLeaks

      Terror training camps, though not directly run by the Pakistan government, continue to operate along India-Pakistan border creating potential for conflict with India and instability in the region, according to secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

    • US lawmaker wants to see alleged WikiLeaks source

      A US lawmaker deeply critical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan asked the Pentagon on Friday to let him visit an imprisoned soldier held on suspicion of leaking secrets to WikiLeaks.

      Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich made the request in a letter to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates that echoed charges from rights groups that the soldier, Bradley Manning, has been held in unduly severe conditions.

      “As you know, I am concerned about reports of his treatment while in custody that describe alarming abuses of his constitutional rights and his physical health,” Kucinich wrote.

    • Cong. Ron Paul: Classified Cable Proves US Ok’d Saddam’s Kuwait Invasion

      There would have been no reason for Saddam Hussein not to take this assurance at face value. The U.S. was quite supportive of his invasion and war of aggression against Iran in the 1980s. With this approval from the U.S. Government, it wasn’t surprising that the invasion occurred. The shock and surprise was how quickly the tables were turned and our friend, Saddam Hussein, all of a sudden became Hitler personified.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • A Giant Pipeline Carrying Dirty Oil From Canada to Texas. What Could Go Wrong?

      Last year was quite a year for oil and gas disasters. In addition to the BP blowout, there was a leak on BP’s TransAlaska pipeline, a million-gallon oil spill in Michigan, and a gas explosion that destroyed 37 homes and killed eight people in California. So it would seem like a lousy time for a Canadian company to propose building a pipeline, the Keystone XL, right through the middle of the continent—especially one that may be unnecessary and that even some oil companies think is overpriced.

    • The small print behind African land grabs

      Invest in land, goes the old saw, they’re not making it any more. And, as we have reported, many rich countries and companies are doing just that in the developing world. Partly it’s about making money, partly it’s about securing food in a world where that commodity is looking harder to come by.

      So are the deals being struck for millions of hectares, particularly in Africa, transparent and fair? A fascinating glimpse of the normally secret contracts is delivered in a report by the International Institute for Environment and Development’s Lorenzo Cotula, called Land deals in Africa: What is in the contracts?

    • BP attempts to clean up Gulf via Twitter

      BP America’s Twitter missives remind me of Saddam’s old information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf – spouting propaganda that paints an image of a Gulf where everything is just fine and dandy. But all you need do is actually read many of the stories they’re linking to in their entirety – or dig a little deeper – and a different picture emerges.

    • A Giant Pipeline Carrying Dirty Oil From Canada to Texas. What Could Go Wrong?

      Last year was quite a year for oil and gas disasters. In addition to the BP blowout, there was a leak on BP’s TransAlaska pipeline, a million-gallon oil spill in Michigan, and a gas explosion that destroyed 37 homes and killed eight people in California. So it would seem like a lousy time for a Canadian company to propose building a pipeline, the Keystone XL, right through the middle of the continent—especially one that may be unnecessary and that even some oil companies think is overpriced.

    • EU fisheries commissioner pledges to end ‘nightmare of discards’

      No more fish will be thrown away by fleets in European seas under reforms soon to be presented to ministers, the EU commissioner for fisheries pledged today, in response to a high-profile campaign to end the wasteful practice of discards.

      Instead, fishermen will have to land their entire catch – whether the fish are saleable or not. “We can’t go on like this, with this nightmare of discards,” Maria Damanaki, the EU fisheries commissioner, told the Guardian. “We need a new policy.”

    • Leading health groups oppose Upton’s proposal to block EPA’s clean air safeguards

      House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton is ignoring Americans’ support for the health protections from pollution and pushing a proposal that would allow power plants and other big plants to dump unlimited amounts of dangerous carbon pollution into our air. As I mentioned earlier this week, the nation’s leading public health experts and organizations recognize carbon and other greenhouse pollution as a serious health threat.

    • China to impose green tax on heavy polluters

      China is to impose an environmental tax on heavy polluters under an ambitious cleanup strategy being finalised in Beijing, according to experts familiar with the programme.

      The tax will be included alongside the world’s most ambitious renewable energy scheme and fresh efforts to fight smog when the government unveils the biggest, greenest five-year plan in China’s modern history next month.

      After three decades of filthy growth, the measures are designed to pull the country from the environmental mire and make it a leader in the low-carbon economy. But sceptics question whether the policy will have any more success than previous failed efforts to overcome the nexus of corrupt officials and rule-dodging factory bosses.

  • Finance

    • Doesn’t Anyone Talk About Unemployment Claims Anymore?

      It doesn’t seem that the business press is paying any attention to the data on unemployment claims put out by the Labor Department each week. These reports used to generally earn a small story or mention in a larger story on the release of other economic data.

    • Unemployment falls to 9 pct., nearly 2-year low

      The unemployment rate is sinking at the fastest pace in half a century because a surprisingly large number of people say they’re finding work.

    • Bernanke dismisses inflation concerns, says unemployment turnaround will take years

      The economy is poised to grow more rapidly this year, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said Thursday, dismissing fears that rising fuel prices will trigger broad-based inflation. But he emphasized that it will still take several years before the unemployment rate comes down to normal levels.

    • Madoff trustee: JP Morgan execs warned of fraud

      E-mails and other internal documents show that executives at JPMorgan Chase were complicit in Bernard Madoff’s massive fraud, lawyers seeking to recover funds for his victims said Thursday.

    • S.E.C. Charges 6 in Insider Trading Cases

      The Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil charges of insider trading against six people associated with expert network firms after criminal cases brought earlier by the Justice Department against the same group.

      The S.E.C. charges that four consultants leaked privileged information about companies like Advanced Micro Devices, Apple and Dell to hedge fund managers and others eager to get an edge in the markets. The investors earned about $6 million in illicit gains from the tips, the complaint said.

    • Did the Fed Cause Unrest in the Arab World?
    • What’s next for tax code? Geithner discusses overhaul with wide range of groups

      Timothy F. Geithner can’t seem to talk enough these days about corporate tax reform. From D.C. to Davos, the Treasury secretary has chatted up chief executives and academics, bankers and labor groups, Republicans and Democrats, all in the name of fixing a tax code that most everyone agrees could use a major overhaul.

      [...]

      Since the beginning of the year, Geithner has taken the temperature of a wide range of groups with an interest in changing the corporate tax code. There have been meetings with executives from Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil and Caterpillar; with think tanks as disparate as the conservative American Enterprise Institute and the liberal Citizens for Tax Justice; with advocacy groups such as the Business Roundtable and the AFL-CIO; and even with Bill Bradley, the former New Jersey senator who helped engineer the last major overhaul of the tax system in 1986.

    • The Great British austerity experiment

      Three months ago, I noted that the United States might benefit from the pain being suffered by the citizens of the United Kingdom. The reason was the new coalition government’s commitment to prosperity through austerity. As predicted, this looks very much like a path to pain and stagnation, not healthy growth.

    • South Sudan Should Not be Born Into Debt

      The nearly unanimous South Sudanese referendum result announced over the weekend is likely to lead to independence for a southern state by July. But it only marks one step along the road to true sovereignty for this oppressed and impoverished people. As south Sudan’s oil wealth has been used to enrich elites in the North for decades, so it is now being viewed with hungry eyes by the US and its allies.

      The debt which is inherited by this new state is likely to play a key element in attempts to assert control on south Sudan from the outside. The Sudanese government in Khartoum currently has a debt of $35 billion, large parts of which stretch back to the 1970s and ’80s when the regime of General Nimeiry was propped up by the US. $20 billion of this debt represents interest, following years of default by the Bashir regime.

    • EU on the brink – of integration

      European Union leaders are meeting tonight in yet another attempt to silence the doubters and the sceptics who have spent much of the past six months predicting the collapse of the single currency and possibly even the beginning of the end of the union itself. But this summit is not gathering amid the traditional chorus of derision from the bond market vigilantes and euro doomsayers. Quite suddenly the prevailing wisdom is that, far from disintegrating, the euro area may be on the brink of much closer integration.

    • Financial firm fined $25M for hiding software glitch that cost investors $217M

      An investment fund that hid flaws in a computer application that set the fund’s strategy for making trades has agreed to pay a $25 million SEC fine and pay back $217 million in losses suffered by investors because of the problem.

      AXA Rosenburg Group caught a coding error last April, but the employees who found it tried to keep others from finding out and failed to report it to higher-ups, the company says, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal.

  • Civil Rights

    • Turkish human rights activist Pinar Selek faces third trial

      Pinar Selek’s third trial is slated to begin on February 9, after over a decade of legal proceedings.

      “The fact that the trial is still going on after 12 years and two acquittals contravenes human rights,” Helene Fautre, vice president of the European-Turkish Group at the European parliament, told Deutsche Welle.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Britain wants international rules on cyberspace

      Britain, worried about a growing threat from cyber espionage and cyber crime, offered Friday to host an international conference to tackle such issues.

      Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking at a security conference in Germany, revealed details of recent attacks on British government and defense industry computers to underline the threat from cyber spying.

      He also cited how the Egyptian government had tried to shut down the Internet, mobile phone networks and broadcasters during mass protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

    • The CRTC’s Faulty UBB Foundation: Why There is Reason to Doubt the Review

      There were other moments that should give even ardent CRTC supporters pause – the notion that IPTV should not count against the cap because it isn’t an Internet service (it may not run on the Internet for every provider but the potential to harm competitive offerings is enormous) and the sense that the discount pricing on UBB was based on little more than guesswork. But the lasting image is of a Commission that has genuinely bought into the storyline that the foundational principle for UBB is to ensure “fundamental fairness” by avoiding the subsidizing “heavy users” and guarding against network congestion.

    • Responsibly against Internet Throttling *and* UBB

      That’s one of the things I struggled to address when I started this blog. But it gets worse. Bell doesn’t use the words of jargon the same way other ISPs in other parts of the world do.

      Let’s look at “throttling”:

      * This is How Throttling works,
      * Throttling PROVES that the Internet is NOT congested, and
      * C: Deep Packet Inspection.

      The short version is that Bell’s version of “throttling” consists of deliberately impeding traffic, which actually artificially inflates bandwidth consumption. Worse, they use DPI to discriminate against specific traffic. When you add UBB to throttling, the result looks very much like fraud. Which is why the American ISP Comcast was slapped down by the FCC when they did it.

    • Canada still wants to “discipline the use of the Internet”

      Unlike the parrot in the famous Monty Python sketch, it appears that metered Internet billing in Canada is not quite dead after all. Speaking at a House of Commons hearing today, the head of Canada’s telecoms regulator made it clear that metered billing rules would indeed be delayed—but they could well reappear.

      Konrad von Finckenstein, head of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), said that he has heard the “evident concern expressed by Canadians” about metered billing rules. Those rules would allow the dominant DSL provider, Bell Canada, to impose usage-based billing on the small indie ISPs that use parts of its network to offer service.

    • UBB Choice? Smoke and Mirrors

      Now that various politicians of every stripe seem to have weighed in on UBB, and the announcement that it will be overturned has been made, the UBB front is quieting.

      There has been shock and surprise that Bell requested a delay in UBB implementation. Of course it makes perfect sense… it will have died down in a couple of months. Will the same level of consumer outrage be there? We’ll have to see. Bell has been playing politics in Canada since it was formed by an Act of Parliament.

      The lack of care for consumers as a crucial Internet stakeholder was apparent in that the CRTC allows the regulated Industry a three month appeal process, yet Implementation of UBB (including notification) to consumers was a single month.

    • Handing Control of the Internet to Governments: Bad Idea

      Responding to the desire of thousands of entrepreneurs and communities for alternatives to .com, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has finally concluded that we should expand the domain name space. We can have web sites or email addresses with hundreds of new top level domain extensions, like .music, .berlin or .facebook, or new top level domains in Chinese, Arabic, Russian and dozens of other languages.

      The policy decisions required to make expansion possible proved to be contentious. It took six years to achieve some level of agreement among the diverse groups involved. We thought we were in the end game of that process. But last week, a leaked document from the U.S. Department of Commerce showed that a crucial geopolitical battle is just beginning.

    • Canadians Flatly Reject Usage Based Billing for Internet Access

      Canadians are decidedly opposed to a recent decision that could change the way customers are charged for Internet access, a new Angus Reid / Toronto Star poll has found.

      In the online survey of a representative national sample of 1,024 Canadian adults, three-in-four respondents (76%) disagree with the recent decision from the Canada Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which recently ruled that Internet service providers should adopt “usage-based billing”.

  • DRM

    • More Malware From Sony

      That’s what Sony has put into their latest update of PlayStation 3. 3.56 is reported to contain a rootkit permitting running software on the Playstation without the owner’s consent. That’s Malware and Sony should smarten up. They are already in court over the removal of “Other OS” capability and have a judge on their side to clean up the Internet for blocking the return of “Other OS”.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Future Of Music Coalition Looks To Catalog Artist Revenue Streams

        The Future of Music Coalition, who has put together a big list of revenue streams for musicians, as a tool for getting them to think about alternative business model opportunities, is now trying to take that idea even further.

      • ACS:Law and MediaCAT Completely Shut Down Both Their Businesses

        Hot on the heels of the recent announcement in court that ACS:Law will stop chasing alleged file-sharers, comes an even more dramatic development. According to a document seen by TorrentFreak, both ACS:Law and their copyright troll client MediaCAT have just completely shut down their businesses. The news comes just days before a senior judge is due to hand down a ruling on the pair’s activities.

        In a statement handed to the Patents County Court earlier this month, ACS:Law owner Andrew Crossley delivered some good news for once. The anti-piracy business had all got too much for Crossley – he would now stop chasing alleged file-sharers.

      • Senator Wyden Asks WTF Is Up With Homeland Security Domain Seizures

        We’ve been talking a lot about Senator Ron Wyden lately, as he appears to be one of the few folks left in Washington DC who seem to actually care about overreaching efforts by law enforcement — especially in the area of copyright. We’ve talked about his efforts to block COICA, question ACTA and require more oversight on government spying. He’s also not been shy about standing up for what he believes in, even when corporate interests start pressuring him, such as his eloquent response to companies who urged him to support censorship via COICA.

        [...]

        He basically seems to hit on all of the key points, so it’ll be interesting to see how Holder and Morton reply, but given their existing responses in various speeches, it’s not hard to predict that they’ll sidestep most of these questions, and go with something along the lines of “infringement bad! danger danger!” Either way, kudos (again) to Senator Wyden for being one of the few politicians left who really does appear to care about free speech and due process.

      • Ron Wyden questions sports site take-down

        Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) says the federal government’s take-down of websites that provided access to sporting and other copyrighted events may have silenced free speech and denied the websites due process, according to a letter he sent to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday.

        In the letter, Wyden asked the administration to explain the reasoning and strategy behind the agencies’ seizure of domain names of websites that allegedly violate copyright laws. The federal government seized the Web addresses of 10 websites accused of illegally providing access to copyrighted sporting and pay-per-view events this week. A similar campaign in November resulted in authorities taking down 82 sites.

      • Big Cable fed up with endless P2P porn subpoenas

        The big ISPs, especially Comcast and Time Warner Cable, have intervened for months in massive file-sharing lawsuits, telling judges that they simply can’t drop all of their activity for law enforcement in order to spend weeks doing IP address lookups on behalf of pornographers. And, when the ISPs get the chance to make their arguments before judges, they routinely go beyond complaints about the workload and challenge the very basis of the mass lawsuits.

      • Everything is a Remix Part 2
      • C-32 committee meeting 10 thoughts

        The suggestion is that current Canadian copyright law is allowing massive destruction of value, and major changes are needed. Nearly all the things which are brought up as examples are things like unauthorized P2P filesharing of music which is already illegal in Canada. It was illegal before, and it will be illegal (with less penalties for non-commercial cases) after.

        The suggestion is that Fair Dealings needs to be expanded to legalize things which Canadians were already doing such as time shifting using VCR’s. While it is great to legalize the common use of technology that is now being sent to landfill, it doesn’t legalize the same activities using current digital technology. The proposals are so complex that most people won’t understand them, and this will lead to increased inadvertent infringement. Canadians believe the lobbiests when they are told that Canadian law is “weaker” than US law, and simply don’t believe you when you try to tell them that activities which are perfectly legal under US Fair Use are illegal under Canadian copyright law. A law that is unnecessarily and excessively complex as to not possibly be understood can’t possibly be “obeyed” by average Canadians.

      • Why the Music Industry Must Change Its Strategy to Reach Digital Natives

        This digitization process put you, the audience, in control. It turns out that the consumer’s perceived value of music was dictated by scarcity or availability: Either you paid what the retailer asked or you didn’t get the music. With Napster and CD burning, high quality copies were available to everyone. But what does digital music strategy now need to do to in order to get out of it’s current stall?

      • ACTA

        • Wikileaks ACTA cables confirm it was a screwjob for the global poor

          Quadrature du Net’s repository of #cablegate cables related to ACTA, the secretive copyright treaty reveal that governments all over the world were pissed off that the USA and Japan wouldn’t let them discuss the treaty with their citizens and industry.

          More importantly, they explicitly confirm that the reason that ACTA was negotiated in secret among rich countries was that this was seen as the most expeditious way of getting a super-extreme copyright agreement passed with a minimum of fuss, and that all the poor countries who were excluded from the negotiation would later be coerced into agreeing to it.

        • ACTA: ‘prime role of the US’. WikiLeaks.

          The after-shocks of WikiLeaks Cablegate continue to reverberate around the world, the most recent place to feel them being the US, which is now having its role held up in the harsh light of public disclosure.

          La Quadrature du Net says it gained exclusive access to the WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables centering on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which would, “bypass democratic processes” to enforce a “fundamentally irrelevant regulatory regime, that would put an end to Net neutrality”.

        • Leaked State Department Cables Confirm That ACTA Was Designed To Pressure Developing Nations

          The site La Quadrature Du Net has a rather comprehensive look at a series of leaked State Department cables that confirm what many people said from the beginning about ACTA: that it was designed by US special interests as an “end run” around existing international intellectual property groups, since those groups had actually started listening to the concerns of many other nations about how overly strict intellectual property laws were stifling innovation, economic growth and were, at times, a threat to human safety.

Clip of the Day

Julian Assange speech at WikiLeaks Public Meeting in Melbourne


Credit: TinyOgg

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