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02.19.11

Links 19/2/2011: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.9, ODF Plugfest UK Imminent

Posted in News Roundup at 12:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Not All is Fair in Linux

    There are a couple experiences I had yesterday computer-wise that I’d like to share.

  • Desktop

    • Web Development, Better Done On GNU/Linux

      I often tell people that setup, configuration, writing, scripting, and other general development of any website is better done on the same web server, or at least the same operating system, that is installed on the web server that the site is going to be hosted and ran on, rather than developed elsewhere and simply dropped in place later. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using Apache or Windows Server, GNU/Linux or Windows.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KWin Embraces New Platforms with OpenGL ES 2.0 Support

        Over the last few months the KWin development team worked on bringing the Window Manager for KDE’s Plasma workspaces to mobile devices. This has required porting the compositing code to OpenGL ES 2.0, the open graphics API for programmable embedded graphics hardware. With the migration of KWin’s codebase to git, the code was imported into the master development tree to be part of the next release of the KDE Platform.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4.9 marks the end of 4.x

        After 6 plus years of service, Red Hat is moving its Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL 4) into a bug and security fix maintenance phase. The move follows the release of RHEL 4.9 which is the last update of RHEL 4.x that will include new features and hardware support.

        According to Red Hat, RHEL 4.9 included 200 updates including an update version of SystemTap.

      • Close to the 50 Day – Red Hat

        New York, February 18th (TradersHuddle.com) – Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) closed the trading day at $45.58 close to its 50 day moving average currently set at $45.32. Red Hat’s price action is just above this important support level translating into a trading opportunity.

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) develops and provides open source software and services, including the Red Hat Linux operating system.

      • Axial preaches open source with capital

        Axial Exchange, an early-stage company launched by a former Red Hat executive, has closed on an initial fundraiser that will allow it to expand deployment of its open source-based, health care communication product.

        The Raleigh company raised $1.5 million in recent weeks from two investors and will close on an additional $350,000 in the coming weeks, says founder Joanne Rohde. The funding will be used for development, sales and marketing expansions this year. The company has seven employees and may hire a couple more this year.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 14 screen capture

          Fedora 14 was released last Nov 2, 2010, awfully long time ago in the Linux world. Anyway, I am just documenting here how it looks like installing Fedora 14 in VirtualBox. I have done this for the top 5 distributions and I am gonna do this for Fedora again.

        • Romanian Fedora community at crossroads

          By the official numbers there are 9 Fedora Ambassadors for Romania, this sounds like a healthy number but: some of them I know nothing about, from some didn’t hear in more than a year, some are busy with life, some working exclusively on derivative distros, some left the country and some left the country with a paid job on a competing distro… Also, I am not an Ambassador, so not included in the list above. Yet.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • 5 Amazing Wallpapers From The Ubuntu 11.04 Submissions

          As you may be aware, many of the wallpapers that ship with Ubuntu are user submitted. Till Ubuntu 10.10, only photographs are accepted. However in Ubuntu 11.04, the Canonical design team will also include three artworks submitted by users. There are plenty of very good submissions – and this is our selection of five of them which we like.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Quick Look: PureOS 3.0

            Every once in a while I run into a distro that has me scratching my head and wondering what the developers were thinking. PureOS is just such a distribution. Version 3.0 was just released and announced on DistroWatch, so I thought I’d give it a download and see what it was like.

            I had initially planned to do a full review of it on Desktop Linux Reviews, but I ran into a snag with the install (which I’ll talk more about in that section of this quick look) so I decided to do a quick look instead. This quick look is based on the live desktop environment.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Open source Snowball board taps dual-core Cortex-A9 SoC

      Both the Snowball and PandaBoard are supported with low-level Linux code supporting Ubuntu, MeeGo, and Android from the ARM-backed, not-for-profit, Linaro development firm. In November, Linaro demonstrated its Linaro 10.11 tools running on a variety of Cortex-A8 platforms, such as the BeagleBoard, plus Cortex-A9 systems, such as the PandaBoard.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Google tips future unity between Gingerbread and Honeycomb forks

          An upcoming “I” Android release will provide Honeycomb-like tablet features for phones, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said during a Mobile World Congress (MWC) keynote. He added that Google would still welcome Nokia in the Android camp, demonstrated a video editor for Honeycomb named Movie Studio, and waxed eloquent on mobile technology’s positive effect on society.

        • Google music app to ship on Motorola Xoom tablet

          Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha said a Google music application will be available with the Motorola Xoom tablet later this year. Also this week, Motorola confirmed the $799 (unsubsidized) pricing for the Android 3.0 tablet and announced the retailers that will participate in the tablet’s second-quarter release in the U.K.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Editor’s Note: Hackers Defend Liberty

    It amazes me that this is a concept that we actually have to defend. If it weren’t for hackers jailbreaking PS3s and Apple devices, breaking laughably weak copy protection schemes, and exposing the many weaknesses of proprietary products we would have no way out. It is amazing and amusing, in the most bitterly cynical way, that instead of improving their shoddy products the goons I mean fine upstanding titans of industry instead resort to jackbootery, to pushing through terrible legislation like the DMCA, terrible international treaties like ACTA, wholesale abuse of the civil courts, and unrestrained invasions into our personal business. It’s a sickness.

  • ForgeRock Shines on Sun’s Legacy Identity

    Are one company’s castoffs another company’s treasure?

    Open source startup ForgeRock this week is celebrating its first year in business, thanks in part to technology giant Oracle.

    The core of ForgeRock identity offerings were born at Sun Microsystems, which has since been acquired by Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL). ForgeRock has managed to take a number of open source technologies started at Sun, including the OpenSSO single sign on and identity platform, and position them as the foundation of a growing business. According to ForgeRock, the technologies that it is now building and evolving might not have had a future with Oracle, which has created an opportunity for the startup.

  • Long-Term Open Source Solutions on Cities’ Radar

    In cities across the country, government officials are searching for ways to make meaningful data available and use the intelligence to solve social problems. Agencies are leveraging contests like NYC BigApps 2.0, which is scheduled to announce its winners in March. Though contests are an effective tool, experts warn that governments should focus on long-term solutions.

    One of the leading apps contest creators, ChallengePost, has proved that apps contests can be a good investment. Brandon Kessler, founder and CEO of ChallengePost points to New York as a shining example.

  • Why I lose interest in some projects.

    Some projects have historically sucked; they’ve been incomplete, they’ve been hard to use, they’ve had poor documentation, or they’ve had regular security issues.

    Over time projects that started off a little poorly can, and often do, improve. But their reputation is usually a long time in improving.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google gives Chrome 10 beta a turbo boost

        Google has released a new beta version of Chrome 10, giving it a notable speed boost.

        The firm announced “a dramatic improvement in JavaScript speed, new password sync features, and entirely revamped browser settings,” via the Chrome blog.

        Google said the JavaScript speed in this beta release is 66 per cent faster on the V8 benchmark suite over the current stable release.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Fate of Java

      On the one hand, Java is looking like a security sieve/trojan these days and on the other Google has asked USPTO to shoot down several patents on Java which are held by Oracle.

      Until software patents in general are discarded IT will be burdened by illegitimate patents that take many years to sort out in the courts. Patents are silly when applied to software. They are tantamount to patenting ideas and the last thing IT needs is restraint on ingenuity.

  • CMS

    • XOOPS, There It Is! A CMS for the Masses

      The great thing about open source software is the ability for developers to fork their own project, if they want to see it take a different direction.

      In 2001, a Content Management System called MyPHPNuke forked from another project, PHP-Nuke, for this very reason. Shortly thereafter, when core developers decided that add-on modules were integrated too tightly with the core, another fork was spawned named XOOPS (eXtensible Object Oriented Portal System).

    • Bitrix Releases List of Top Ten Open Source CMS Pitfalls

      Bitrix, Inc., a technology trendsetter in business communications solutions, has compiled a list of the ten major pitfalls of free open source (FOSS) content management systems (CMS) from a customer’s and web developer’s perspective (download whitepaper). The weaknesses listed are natural, if unfortunate, outcomes caused directly or indirectly by this licensing model that diminish its viability in meeting real-life business requirements.

  • Business

    • Open for Business – SMEs take place at Public Sector table

      Today at the Treasury, Mark Taylor attended Franice Maude’s SME strategic supplier summit. If even half of the promised reforms materialise it will transform the Public Sector landscape, clearing the way for young and dynamic businesses to bring innovative solutions and play their part in cutting the gaping deficit.

      The event began with a surprise visit from David Cameron, who gave the opening talk. The day was lead from the front by Francis Maude throughout. Their enthusiasm for the new measures plainly evident.

    • Semi-Open Source

      • Openness is Virtue. Ask Sony.

        Sony has tried and failed to failed to lock down PlayStation. Their latest move was to threaten to ban those who modified their PlayStations… They were going to do that by recognizing a unique ID.

  • Programming

    • Software is too important to leave it to programmers

      After reading Software piracy is also the Government’s fault a website developer wrote to me (synthesizing):

      1. trying to write programs or websites “for everybody” is something that requires a lot of development time; therefore, unless the customer paid to have something viewable with any browser/operating system, you do it. Otherwise, you DON’T. You try to make happy the makority of users and who gives a f**k if not all versions of Linux support Vmw (a video format) out of the box. Sure, that’s ugly to say, but that’s the way it goes
      2. I don’t even care much for people who use Open Source Software that they didn’t pay and then demand to be treated as those who paid something
      3. Here’s a (deliberately) stupid example: if I build my own car myself with my friends, in our spare time, I certainly don’t expect the same performances as an Audi

  • Standards/Consortia

    • About Global Public Inclusive Infrastructures (GPIIs) | gpii.org

      The ODF, as the chief open standard for documents, is leading the front here, and OOo, as the leading open source office suite, is profoundly important to the point.

    • ODF Plugfest UK a week away

      The ODF 5th Plugfest is shaping up well with leading speakers and presentations including Bill McCluggage, Deputy CIO, UK Cabinet Office; Rob Weir, ODF Architect, IBM, Co-chair, OASIS ODF TC; Rufus Pollock, Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow, Director, Open Knowledge Foundation; Chris Puttick, Consultant CIO, Oxford Archaeology, Council Member, IMIS; Mark Taylor, CEO Sirius, a leading integrator of Open Source Applications, as well as world experts in the development and implementation of Open Document Formats.

Leftovers

  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky verdict ordered from above, claims judge’s assistant

    The guilty verdict against the oil tycoon and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky was ordered from above and written by a judge who did not try the case, a Russian court official who worked on the recent trial has said.

    Natalya Vasilyeva, in an interview she claimed was certain to spell the end of her career, said: “I can say that all of legal society understands perfectly well that this is a made-to-order case, a made-to-order trial.”

  • Erase and rewind

    In the 1960s and ’70s, it was common practice at the BBC to reuse video tapes. Old recordings were taped over with new shows. Some Doctor Who episodes have been lost forever. Jimi Hendrix’s unruly performance on Happening for Lulu would have also been lost if a music-loving engineer hadn’t sequestered the tapes away, preventing them from being over-written.

  • How big business subverts democracy

    Just a couple of years ago, most people had no idea what the Chamber of Commerce did. Aren’t they mom and pop’s small-business lobby in Washington? Now, thanks in large part to the work of Chamber opponents, we’ve come to learn that the biggest business lobby in the world is also one of the biggest impediments to real democracy in the US, and that they’re a huge force in opposing healthcare reform, employee free choice and other labour legislation, veterans’ rights, banking regulations and, of course, transparency.

  • The Secret Weapon of the Rich: Money

    I’ve written before about Larry Bartels’ research showing that politicians basically don’t care about the views of low and medium-income individuals. The non-rich simply have no impact on their voting behavior at all. But I know you want more evidence. So here it is.

    The charts below come from a 2005 paper by Martin Gilens (a revised 2007 version is here). His study is based on a dataset of polling questions about public policy issues between 1981 and 2002 (raising the minimum wage, sending U.S. troops to Haiti, requiring employers to provide health insurance, allowing gays to serve in the military, etc.) in which the responses differed significantly between the rich and the poor. On the left, you can see the impact that support from low-income voters had: when 10% of them supported a position, there was about a 32% probability of that change becoming law. When 90% supported a position, there was a….33% probability. The chart on the right shows the same for median income voters. They did slightly better, but not much.

  • I eat out of bins too. So what?

    Sasha Hall must have thought she was in luck when she found a bin outside Tesco overflowing with food. She helped herself to packets of potato waffles, pies and ham – a small fraction of the goods that had been abandoned after the store’s freezers broke down. But when police arrived at the 21-year-old’s home in Essex to arrest her for “theft by finding”, those waffles must have looked less lucky.

    Hall now faces court. But if she committed a crime, it’s one that I, like thousands of other freegans across the UK, commit daily. I have lived healthily for several years on discarded food. I take my pick from sacks full of heavily packaged sushi, bread, ready meals and fruit, all perfectly edible but dumped as they go out of date.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Unconstitutionality of Obamacare

      Why does an outback writer in Boonville, Mondocino county, California, have to write on a left-wing website about how a right-wing judge did the left — and the American public — a favor?

      Why do I have to explain to local liberals that Obamacare, especially its “mandatory health insurance” provision, is unsupportable — even if the wonderful Barack Obama proposed it?

    • An Illuminating Expedition to the World of the Uninsured

      A few years after “Wild Kingdom” went off the air, Brock founded Remote Area Medical to deliver basic health care to people living in some of the planet’s most remote locales. A pilot, Brock himself began flying doctors and medical supplies to villages in South America, Africa and Asia.

      It never occurred to Brock when he started RAM in 1985 that most of his expeditions would eventually take him to communities in the States. But it soon became apparent to him that millions of Americans don’t have much better access to affordable care than residents of the third world. Today, more than 60 percent of RAM’s expeditions are in the United States, and not just to rural areas. In fact, the biggest annual RAM expedition is now held in Los Angeles, where thousands of people line up for care that is provided free over the course of eight days.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • 1,500 detainees transferred to Evin prison

      Following the large uprising against the regime in various cities in Iran on Monday, the regime’s officials at the notorious Evin prison released the names of 1,500 people arrested and transferred to the prison on Monday night.

      According to Harana news agency on Tuesday, students and protestors have also been arrested by the regime’s suppressive forces in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

    • U.S. pushing Palestinians to drop UN resolution on settlement construction

      The United States is putting heavy pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Arab states to withdraw a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements. The resolution is due to come up for a vote at the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

      Washington has made it clear that it will veto the resolution should it come to a vote, and has implored the Palestinian Authority and other Arab nations to withdraw the proposal, but to no avail.

    • Haaretz probe: IDF base to be built in East Jerusalem

      The Jerusalem municipality plans to construct an Israel Defense Forces army base that will house military colleges on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, reportedly beyond the pre-1967 war green line.

      Both the municipality as well as the Ministry of Defense dispute this claim, stating that the base will be built within the green line, however, Haaretz has revealed otherwise and according to the plans created by the architectural firm hired by the municipality, the base will encroach upon disputed territory.

    • From An Israeli Prison to Tahrir Square
    • Bahrain protests: Four killed as riot police storm Pearl Square

      At least four people have been killed in an early-morning raid by security forces on Pearl Square, the focal point of anti-government demonstrations in Bahrain, sparking street battles with riot police.

      Armoured trucks have been seen in central Manama and key roads are blocked by security forces. The crackdown follows a dramatic and violent turn in three days of protests calling for widespread reform within Bahrain’s ruling minority. Dozens of wounded protesters were being taken to hospitals across the city on Thursday morning.

    • Workers toppled a dictator in Egypt, but might be silenced in Wisconsin

      In Egypt, workers are having a revolutionary February. In the United States, by contrast, February is shaping up as the cruelest month workers have known in decades.

      The coup de grace that toppled Hosni Mubarak came after tens of thousands of Egyptian workers went on strike beginning last Tuesday. By Friday, when Egypt’s military leaders apparently decided that unrest had reached the point where Mubarak had to go, the Egyptians who operate the Suez Canal and their fellow workers in steel, textile and bottling factories; in hospitals, museums and schools; and those who drive buses and trains had left their jobs to protest their conditions of employment and governance. As Jim Hoagland noted in The Post, Egypt was barreling down the path that Poland, East Germany and the Philippines had taken, the path where workers join student protesters in the streets and jointly sweep away an authoritarian regime.

    • The Koch Connection in Scott Walker’s War on Working People

      Wisconsin’s embattled Governor Scott Walker took large donations from Koch Industries in the run-up to the 2010 election that swept him into office. OpenSecrets.org reports that Koch Industries donated a total of $43,000 in two separate contributions — $15,000 on July 8, 2010 and another $28,000 on September 27, 2010 — to the Friends of Scott Walker Political Action Committee (PAC), to help get Walker elected governor.

    • Firefighter Support
    • A CMD Special Report: Scott Walker Runs on Koch Money

      The RGA in turn spent $5 million in the race, mostly on TV ads attacking Walker’s political opponent, Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett. As this photo shows, the RGA described itself as a “key investor” in Walker’s victory. In its congratulations, the RGA notes that it “ran a comprehensive campaign including TV and internet ads and direct mail. The series of ads were devastating to Tom Barrett . . . . All told, RGA ran 8 TV ads and sent 8 pieces of mail for absentee, early voting, and GOTV, totaling 2.9 million pieces.”

      The Center for Media and Democracy reported on some of the RGA’s spin-filled ads last November, including the ads against Barrett, and filed a snapshot report this week. As the RGA takes credit, its multi-million dollar negative ad campaign probably did help make the difference between the 1.1 million votes cast for Walker against Barrett’s 1 million votes. According to Open Secrets, Koch Industries was one of the top ten donors to the RGA in 2010, giving $1,050,450 to help with governors’ races, like Walker’s.

    • Wisconsin Governor Walks on Workers

      Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is trying to end collective bargaining rights for public employees in Wisconsin, and thousands have converged on the state capitol in protest of what many consider a radical and blatantly political move. Walker’s plan threatens the rights of all Wisconsin workers, and if it prevails in this state, could threaten the rights of working people across the nation. It would also reverse the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all those who have fought for economic justice through the power of organizing.

    • Military moves quickly to bring elections to Egypt

      Egypt geared up Tuesday for a breakneck rush to democracy as its military rulers vowed to hand authority to an elected civilian government in six months and ordered legal experts to draft a revised constitution in 10 days.

    • Anti-government protests, clashes spread to Libya

      Egypt-inspired unrest spread against Libya’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi on Wednesday, with riot police clashing with protesters in the second-largest city of Benghazi and marchers setting fire to security headquarters and police stations in two other cities, witnesses said.

    • Palestinian Revolution by Default

      The Egyptian revolution, and the threat to autocratic Arab regimes all over the region, have forced rapid changes on the Palestinian political scene – with major players Hamas and Fatah scrambling to catch up.

    • Curveball could face jail for warmongering, says German MP

      A German politician has warned that the CIA informant Curveball could go to jail after telling the Guardian that he lied about Saddam Hussein’s bioweapons capability in order to “liberate” Iraq.

    • Curveball: How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam

      In a small flat in the German town of Erlangen in February 2003, an out-of-work Iraqi sat down with his wife to watch one of the world’s most powerful men deliver the speech of his career on live TV.

    • Will Any Landlord Rent to This Abortion Provider?

      Mila Means, the Wichita doctor who wants to fill the void left by the 2009 murder of abortion doctor George Tiller, has been forced to search for a new place to work. Last month, Means’ landlord requested and received a restraining order forbidding the doctor from providing abortion services in the building where her office is currently located. On Friday, Means told the state judge handling the case that she is hoping to secure a new location for her practice, and reached an agreement with her landlord not to provide the service at the current location.

    • In Iraq, Torture and Secret Prisons Continue

      As the world’s eyes were fixed on the drama in Egypt last week, Human Rights Watch investigators in Iraq filed a depressingly familiar chapter in the country’s recent history, making new allegations of torture and of a secret prison that they say is run by special counterterrorism forces who answer directly to the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

      The watchdog group reported that, in November, more than 280 prisoners were transferred from their prison in the Green Zone to the secret prison, known as Camp Justice, just days before a team of rights observers were planning to visit and monitor conditions. Two separate security forces, the 56th Brigade and the Counter-Terrorism Service, both of which take orders from Maliki, are tasked with running the secret prison — and have proven adept at keeping its detainees beyond the reach of international aid groups, relatives, or the state’s own Ministry of Human Rights.

    • Bahrain: 2011-2-18
    • Protests death toll rises in Libya

      Security forces in Libya have killed scores of pro-democracy protesters in demonstrations demanding the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s long time ruler.

      A doctor in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city, told Al Jazeera that he had seen 70 bodies at the main hospital on Friday in one of the harshest crackdowns against peaceful protesters thus far.

    • Libya protests: 84 killed in growing unrest, says HRW

      The number of people killed in three days of protests in Libya has risen to 84, according to the New York-based group Human Rights Watch.

    • Libyan Disconnect

      Renesys confirms that the 13 globally routed Libyan network prefixes were withdrawn at 23:18 GMT (Friday night, 1:18am Saturday local time), and Libya is off the Internet. One Libyan route originated by Telecom Italia directly is still BGP-reachable, but inbound traceroutes appear to die in Palermo. A minority of our peers report some surviving paths through the peering connection between Level3 and Telecom Italia, but traceroutes into those prefixes fail, suggesting that the Libyan cutoff is complete.

    • The Day Egypt Disappeared

      Wael Ghonim, a young Google product manager who was secretly arrested and held for 12 days during uprising, claims that “this revolution started on Facebook.”

      For years now, democracy activists across the Arab world have been meeting and collaborating on-line. Six months ago, Ghonim started the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page honoring the Egyptian blogger who was beaten to death by police after he released material exposing police corruption. What started as a campaign against police brutality and government propaganda grew into an enormous chat room for a generation disgusted with the Mubarak regime.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Barack Obama 2012 budget provides $8bn for clean energy

      President Barack Obama proposed on Monday to boost funds for clean energy research and deployment in his 2012 budget by slashing subsidies for fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.

      The budget provides the Department of Energy with $29.5bn (£18.4bn) for the fiscal year 2012, up 4.2% from the proposed 2011 budget, and up 12% from the enacted 2010 budget. Some $8bn would support research in clean energy like wind, solar and advanced batteries.

    • Warming Arctic brings invasion of southern species
    • Study finds massive flux of gas, in addition to liquid oil, at BP well blowout in Gulf

      A new University of Georgia study that is the first to examine comprehensively the magnitude of hydrocarbon gases released during the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil discharge has found that up to 500,000 tons of gaseous hydrocarbons were emitted into the deep ocean. The authors conclude that such a large gas discharge—which generated concentrations 75,000 times the norm—could result in small-scale zones of “extensive and persistent depletion of oxygen” as microbial processes degrade the gaseous hydrocarbons.

    • Chevron Runs from Judgment
      in Ecuador

      Chevron petroleum Corporation is attempting to slither out of an $8 billion judgment rendered yesterday by a trial court in Ecuador for cancer deaths, illnesses and destruction caused by its Texaco unit.

    • Climate change doubled likelihood of devastating UK floods of 2000

      Global warming made the floods that devastated England and Wales in the autumn of 2000, costing £3.5bn, between two and three times more likely to happen, new research has found. This is the first time scientists have quantified the role of human-induced climate change in increasing the risk of a serious flood and represents a major development in climate science.

      “It shows climate change is acting here and now to load the dice towards more extreme weather,” said Myles Allen of Oxford University, who led the work, which he started after his own home was nearly flooded in 2000. It will also have wider consequences, say experts, by making lawsuits for compensation against energy companies more likely to succeed.

    • Chevron’s dirty fight in Ecuador

      No regrets, no apologies and not a penny in damages. The US energy giant Chevron came out fighting last night after a court in Ecuador ordered it to pay $8.6bn (£5.3bn) in fines and clean-up costs, plus $900m reparations, to the victims of oil pollution that fouled a swathe of Amazon rainforest along the country’s remote north-eastern border.

      The sum was the largest ever levied in an environmental lawsuit anywhere in the world.

      Supporters of the indigenous villagers who brought the case said they were celebrating a landmark victory in the wider battle to hold multinational corporations to account for their conduct overseas.

    • Juror in activists’ trial hits out at absence of police tapes

      A juror in a controversial trial of environmental activists has castigated police for withholding covert recordings that he said could have led to them being declared not guilty.

      Jezz Davis, 39, a construction worker, took the rare step of speaking out after hearing revelations that Nottinghamshire police allegedly suppressed surveillance tapes of activists convicted of conspiring to shut down one of Britain’s biggest power stations for a week.

  • Finance

    • Nine Pictures Of The Extreme Income/Wealth Gap

      Many people don’t understand our country’s problem of concentration of income and wealth because they don’t see it. People just don’t understand how much wealth there is at the top now. The wealth at the top is so extreme that it is beyond most people’s ability to comprehend.

    • Consumer 10.0: Phila. homeowner wins judgment against Wells Fargo over mortgage fees

      Frustrated by a dispute with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and by his inability to get answers to questions, the West Philadelphia homeowner took the mortgage company to court last fall.

      When Wells Fargo still didn’t respond, Rodgers got a $1,000 default judgment against it for failing to answer his formal questions, as required by a federal law called the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

    • Where is the Budget Crisis?

      Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker alleges that dismantling public sector collective bargaining rights is made necessary by a $3.6 billion deficit in the next budget, and a $137 million shortfall this year. Setting aside the fact that the ability to negotiate shifts, seniority, benefits and conditions of employment would have a negligible impact on the deficit, and looking beyond Walker’s deceptive claim that the alternative to union-busting is to kick 200,000 children off Medicaid (called “false” by Politifact), how deep is the state’s economic crisis?

    • An Injury to One is an Injury to All

      Cue mayhem across the state, with teachers, nurses, steelworkers and even cops and firefighters — who would be exempt from the curtailing of their collective bargaining rights under Walker’s bill — descending upon Madison to storm the Capitol.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The GOP Plot to Destroy Legal Aid

      Last month, when the House conservative caucus proposed scrapping a program that has provided the poor with free legal assistance for nearly four decades, it felt like déjà-vu. Indeed, this provision of the GOP’s Spending Reduction Act of 2011 was simply the latest salvo against an entity that’s been under siege by conservatives since the day it was conceived.

      Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is a federally funded nonprofit that doles out money ($420 million this year) to 136 independent groups providing legal services in hundreds of communities around the nation. Debt collectors knocking down your door? Foreclosure mill trying to take your house? If you can’t afford a lawyer and your family is hovering near the federal poverty line, then the LSC is your ticket to legal representation.

    • Bloomberg Behind the Coalition for Competition in Media

      An article in the February 28 issue of The Nation has revealed that Bloomberg was behind the Coalition for Competition in Media (CCM), an apparent public interest group aiming to stop the then-pending $30 billion megamerger of Comcast and NBC Universal. While CCM advanced a legitimate argument that the merger would negatively impact independent media outlets and internet freedom, and while other pro-media democracy groups joined the coalition, Bloomberg LP’s true motivation behind forming and funding the group may have been to advance the narrow interests of Bloomberg Television.

    • Astroturf for Hire

      NPR’s Planet Money recently reported on astroturf activities in the financial sector. “Forgery: The Latest Tactic To Sway Finance Rules” focuses on the behind the scenes fight over the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. The Dodd-Frank bill is now in the agency rulemaking stage and financial sector lobbyists have descended en masse on the pertinent federal agencies, lobbying in person and via comment letters to the Federal Register.

  • Civil Rights

    • EU Accused of Backing Child Labour

      The EU is facing accusations of tacitly supporting child labour after its main decision-making body approved a trade agreement with Uzbekistan on textiles – an industry known to involve at least one million child labourers a year.

      It has emerged that just days after Uzbek president Islam Karimov’s controversial visit to Brussels last month, the European Council approved a protocol granting various tariff and customs privileges and free access to European markets for Uzbek textiles.

    • Soviet Shadow Over Russia

      With less than a year remaining for parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia, human rights activists and opposition forces have become targets of political intimidation and frequent harassment by law enforcement agencies. They see an effort to exclude them from the country’s democratic process.

      “Many opposition groups suffer from widespread official suppression,” Yelena Ryabinina, chairperson of the Moscow-based Memorial and the Civic Assistance Committee and a member of the Presidential Committee on Human Rights told IPS.

    • TSA Behavioral Screening: Yet Another Untested Program that Compromises Civil Liberties

      The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) use of privacy-violating full-body imaging scanners in U.S. airports has provoked a public outcry and garnered extensive media attention, but dozens of other questionable TSA initiatives have gone largely unnoticed, including the Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program launched in 2006.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • U.S. House Votes to Allow Cable Providers to Throttle Internet

      It has seen the end of the net neutrality legislation, it will soon see the end of the Rebellion…

      House Republicans have managed to pull off a high profile rejection of a key tech-related component of the Obama administration’s initiatives. In control of the House for the first time in four years, Republicans have voted to overturn so-called “net neutrality” rules proposed earlier this year by the Obama administration.

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