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Links 20/2/2011: Fluxbox 1.3 is Out, FSF Calls for Boycott of MPEG-LA Signers

Posted in News Roundup at 7:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • The Cognitive Style of Unix

    Some software tries to be “easy-to-use” by externalizing rules and knowledge into the interface, so that the user does not have to think and can merely follow the cues. An example is inactivating parts of the interface that are not relevant or allowed in a particular context. Software that does not externalize such rules and knowledge relies instead on the user internalizing those, and mindfully coming up with plans to solve the problem at hand.

  • Looking at a few Operating Systems

    The last few weeks have seen me poking around with a few different operating systems to see how they perform. None of these were particularly in-depth in their nature but brushes with alternatives to what I currently use for much of the time. While I am too sure what exactly has kicked off all of this curiosity, all of the OS’s that I have examined have been of the UNIX/Linux variety. With the inclusion of Unity in the forthcoming Ubuntu “Natty Narwhal” 11.04, I am mindful of the need to be keeping an eye on alternative options should there ever be a need to jump ship. However, a recent brush with an alpha version has reassured me a little. Then there are interesting OS releases too and I recently forgot the Ubuntu password (a silly thing to do, I know) for my Toshiba laptop too so I suppose that a few things are coming together.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • KDEMU Markey’s Movin’

      On this release of KDEMU! I talk with Markey over his move to Germany and his new job at Nokia. Oh look an elephant in the room.

  • Ballnux

    • Toronto Night School Plugged into IBM i LUG

      The TUG Night School is set up with the York University campus of Seneca College located in Toronto. A typical classroom is equipped with 22 workstations running the latest versions of both Microsoft Windows and Novell SUSE Linux.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Fluxbox 1.3 Released | What’s new | Compile Fluxbox

      Fluxbox is a great lightweight X window manager based on Blackbox 0.61.1 built using C++. Fluxbox has a simple friendly user-interface quite easy to use for any user, and does not require a high machine performance to use it. Been a long time since last Fluxbox stable release from two years, finally Fluxbox 1.3 has been released today with quite a few new features we will take a look at along with installation methods for Fluxbox 1.3.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Pardus Kurumsal 2

        Yesterday, I did something that I always do. I checked DistroWatch for the latest news. Something interesting was listed there. Apparently, Pardus has a “Corporate” edition. This isn’t a paid release or anything. It’s another version of Pardus that uses only trusted components. I was rather interested. I have long been a Slackware fan due to the amount of control I have over my system, but also due to a want for trusted, stable packages. While this release of Pardus isn’t as stable as say Debian-stable, it is interesting in the fact that it includes the best desktop environment of all time: KDE3.

      • Debian Squeeze: about relevance and visibility

        The new awaited Debian 6.0 “Squeeze” has been recently released. I only got it a quick look on my blog. What more surprised me has been all the discussion about Debian “relevance” that appeared on the Internet just after Debian release (for example here and there). I’m not going to defend Debian here, there is no need, many people has already done it and I couldn’t add more of information to the whole discussion.


        Coming back to Debian, our famous distribution seems to be slowly drifting toward invisibility.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Top 8 Newest GNOME GTK Themes Worth Trying Out

        If you are a regular here, you must already know that posts relating to Linux desktop eyecandy corners a huge chunk of our daily dose of Ubuntu/Linux articles. On top of the classic and most popular GTK themes for Ubuntu/GNOME we have featured here before, here are a bunch of very new and very awesome GNOME GTK themes worth taking a look at.

  • Distributions

    • [Sabayon] Sneak Peek and Feedback
    • Arch Linux

      I had to drop FreeBSD for now on my Acer TravelMate 2300. I’m still using it on my desktop machine.

      The reason for dropping it on the laptop is that the intel drivers freezes up the system under Xorg 7.5 , as discussed here. Now, I’m not going to use VESA. Newer drivers are available, but are waiting for KMS support. The only way to live with the problem is to keep Xorg at version 7.4, but this is a hassle given that I like to track the current version of FreeBSD. Sure one can keep Xorg at the old version even with the new FreeBSD, but it is a headache.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Community Support Expands for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6

        The Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL) project is pleased to announce the release of EPEL 6. A community project, EPEL 6 is a collection of open source projects packaged specifically for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, which was released in November 2010, and other compatible systems. These supplementary applications, tools and libraries are maintained and supported by volunteers for the convenience and advancement of the community. Though EPEL is under the umbrella of the Fedora Project, it is not commercially supported by Red Hat.

    • Debian Family

      • Space without the Fun

        This is Debian booting with Plymouth using the Debian Sunrise theme, by gajm, which is a modification of the Space Sunrise theme by Andre “Osku” Schmidt.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu Desktop for the enterprise
        • ‘Ubuntu Linux’, ‘Ubuntu GNU/Linux’? No, use ‘Ubuntu’!

          The first, and the most important argument considering we’re trying to market a product here, is that using simply ‘Ubuntu’ makes the brand name a lot more attractive and easier on the mind. Because of the Linux in ‘Ubuntu Linux’, people will associate it with the legacy of past Linux distributions, and I think that ‘Ubuntu’ is a more attractive name on its own.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Bodhi Linux RC2 & Updates

            After three weeks of user input and a few bugs reports the Bodhi team and I are happy to present our second release candidate (version number 0.1.6). This version features package updates such as Firefox beta 11 and a number of small changes that make the system feel a bit more seamless. For a full change log see here.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • MontaVista’s Bare Metal EngineTM Pushes Linux Performance to New Frontiers — Wireless Applications Gain 600% Increase in Linux Data Plane Performance

      MontaVista® Software, LLC, a leader in embedded Linux® commercialization, today announced that the MontaVista Bare Metal Engine™ pushes their Carrier Grade Edition 6.0 Linux performance to new frontiers. MontaVista Bare Metal Engine delivers the technologies required for next generation multi-core SoC’s to achieve extremely high performance, leverage new multi-core resource management capabilities to fully maximize multi-core designs, and delivers new high availability features incorporating the latest open source technologies. According to the latest Cisco Visual Networking Index, mobile data traffic is expected to grow by 39 fold between 2009 and 2014, so wireless systems will be required to operate as efficiently as possible to keep up with the astronomical growth. Now wireless equipment providers building 3G, WiMAX and LTE infrastructure equipment such as LTE Base Stations (eNodeBs) and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) devices, 3G Base stations, Cell Site Aggregators, Radio Network Controllers (RNC), Packet Data Serving Node (PDSN), xGSNs, Femtocells, Femto Gateways, WiMax base stations and ASN Gateways will be able to achieve even higher performance from their deployed applications.

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Splashtop Releases MeeGo™-Based Splashtop OS for OEMs
        • The future for Qt, MeeGo and Symbian – CTO Rich Green explains

          Nokia CTO Rich Green talks to Conversations readers about the futures of Qt, MeeGo and Symbian. With 150 million more Symbian devices planned for the next year, there’s still lots of work to be done in providing a great user experience for current Symbian users and for new owners. Plus ongoing suport for developers.

        • Intel Demonstrates MeeGo OS On A Tablet: Video

          Despite Nokia’s decision to focus on Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform, Intel showed MeeGo – the two companies’ joint open source operating system – running on a tablet, at Mobile World Congress (MWC).

          Formed last year by the merger of Nokia and Intel’s Linux-based platforms Maemo and Moblin, MeeGo was going to be Nokia’s future platform, until CEO Stephen Elop realised its arrival at the end of 2011 would be too late given the company’s operating system crisis. The company is slashing development, turning MeeGo into an R-and-D sandpit, with one MeeGo phone still scheduled for delivery later this year.

        • Intel to Forge Ahead With MeeGo

          The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company said that since MeeGo is an industry effort, and not an Intel-Nokia effort, it plans to look for new partners will continue its development. Hardware companies Advanced Micro Devices, Texas Instruments and Sony Ericsson are still signed up to the project, as are operators like Orange, Telefonica and Sprint, and developers such Novell and Wind River.

        • Nokia Admits to not Focusing on Desktop Qt
      • Android

        • MWC 2011: Google Android takes centre stage at Mobile World Congress

          No wonder, then, that new software from companies such as Myriad offers the chance to run Android apps on other devices, with a programme that it hopes to sell to handset manufacturers called Alien Dalvik. So Android is now so big, there’s even a nascent ecosystem to sell the ecosystem to other people.

        • Check Out Google’s AMAZING Android Booth At Mobile World Congress
        • What Honeycomb Means for Apple and Microsoft

          Overall tablet sales for 2011 are estimated in the tens of millions, and many of those new units will run Google’s tablet-specific mobile platform, Honeycomb. Though a number of the OS’s new features and functions — from a new graphics engine to support for a variety of device sizes — appear specific to slates now, some are sure to filter down to smartphones, bringing greater Android unification across device types. And while Apple’s iPad may have the current lead in the tablet market, Honeycomb puts Google in an excellent position to catch up, much as Android has done in competing with iOS. But Apple isn’t the only competitor Google’s got in its crosshairs: Microsoft is also likely to be affected, from both a mobile and a desktop computing perspective.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Distributed WAF Project Launched by art of defence at RSA

    Cluster Awareness, Distributed Architecture and Central Administration Ideal for Cloud and Enterprise WAF Projects

  • Appcelerator and Engine Yard Partner to Deliver Integrated Cloud Connected Mobility Solution

    Appcelerator®, the leading platform for rapidly developing native mobile, desktop and tablet applications using web technologies, and Engine Yard, the leading Ruby on Rails development and deployment platform for the cloud, today announced an agreement to provide an end-to-end solution for the rapid development and deployment of highly scalable mobile applications. The partnership provides developers with the integrated platform needed to take advantage of the explosive growth in cloud-connected mobility.

  • DataDirect Networks (DDN) Funds Open Source HPC Initiative and Offers Free Year of Lustre Support to Sun and Oracle Customers

    DataDirect Networks (DDN), the world’s largest privately held information storage company, today announced a series of HPC funding initiatives around the Lustre open source file system, aimed at providing scientists and researchers better and more cost-effective tools in order to accelerate the rate of invention and scientific innovation.

  • 6 Open Source CMDB
  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • New Chrome extension: block sites from Google’s web search results

        We’ve been exploring different algorithms to detect content farms, which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. One of the signals we’re exploring is explicit feedback from users. To that end, today we’re launching an early, experimental Chrome extension so people can block sites from their web search results. If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla delays final Firefox beta

        It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Mozilla will ship Firefox 4 this month.

        On Thursday, Christian Legnitto, who oversees Firefox releases, said that Beta 12 would probably not ship for several days.

        “The bugs blocking beta 12 are expected to be fixed in the next day or so,” Legnitto said yesterday in a message to a Firefox development mailing list. “At that point, we will freeze nightlies and then create the beta build when we are confident of quality.”

      • The Version Number Game

        Some developers realize that this is very much a game and they choose not to play it. The Debian team does not plan on artificially inflating their number of versions any time soon (at least as far as we know). Mozilla on the other hand seems to be caving to the pressure, they recently announced that they plan to release Firefox versions 4, 5, 6, and 7 by the end of 2011. Thats right, in the next ten months Mozilla plans to release more versions of Firefox than they have in the last six years. Personally I feel this is very unnecessary, Mozilla’s past release cycle has been plenty fine and meaningful – it has accurately represented the progress of the browser.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • 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.

  • CMS

  • Business

    • Talend Integration Factory is Major Step Forward in Democratizing ESB Market

      Talend Integration Factory, based on Apache Camel, uses well known Enterprise Integration Patterns to make message-based system integration easier to implement, yet more powerful and scalable.

    • Actuate and Talend Collaborate to Deliver Open Source BI Solution

      Talend, a global open source software leader, today announced an alliance with Actuate Corporation (NASDAQ: BIRT), the people behind BIRT® and the leading open source Business Intelligence (BI) vendor. Under this technology alliance, Talend is the preferred provider of data integration and data quality solutions for migrating data on the recently launched BIRT onDemand. Talend’s solutions are also referenced under Actuate’s BIRT Exchange Marketplace.

    • Semi-Open Source/Eclipse

      • Nuxeo Initiates Contribution of CMIS-Enabled Content Repository to Eclipse Foundation Provides Proven Core Services for Content Management Application Development

        Nuxeo, the Open Source Enterprise Content Management company, has proposed to contribute its proven Content Repository technology (Nuxeo Core) to the Eclipse Foundation. The “Eclipse Enterprise Content Repository” project, if approved, will build on the initial contribution to deliver a modular, versatile and full-featured Content Repository technology, leveraging CMIS as main access protocol and API.

      • Eclipse Foundation Elections
      • Google Plugin for Eclipse and GWT 2.2 now available

        Google Plugin for Eclipse and GWT 2.2 are now available with several new features that we’re excited to share with you. First, Google Plugin for Eclipse 2.2 directly integrates GWT Designer, a powerful WYSIWYG Ajax user interface (UI) designer that makes it much easier to quickly build UIs. Second, developers can take advantage of the modern web with the first round of HTML5 support within the GWT SDK. Additionally, GWT’s CellTable widget now offers new functionality, such as default column sorting and the ability to set column widths. These new features make it even easier to build best in breed web apps using Java-based tools and Eclipse. And while these apps can be run on any platform, Google Plugin for Eclipse makes it very easy to deploy, and run, on Google App Engine.

  • Funding/Deals

  • BSD

    • ZFS and FreeBSD
    • FreeBSD installers. BSDInstall and pc-sysinstall to merge

      Most readers here will agree that FreeBSD would benefit from an updated installer with more functionalities. One of many reasons e.g. is support for the Zetabyte File System (ZFS). A number of FreeBSD users even think that FreeBSD can do with a more attractive installer (me included).


  • Project Releases

    • OpenSFS Announces Collaborative Effort to Support Lustre 2.1 Community Distribution

      Open Scalable File Systems, Inc. (OpenSFS), a technical organization focused on high-end, open-source file system technologies, today announced plans to collaborate with Whamcloud and the broader Lustre community on version 2.1 of the Lustre file system. In a strong demonstration of unity and resolve, major proponents of the Lustre user community have joined in this effort to ensure the availability and open-source status of the software.

    • Qualcomm Innovation Center Launches AllJoyn Open Source Project
    • Qualys Unveils IronBee Open Source Web Application Firewall

      Qualys®, Inc., the leading provider of on demand IT security risk and compliance management solutions, today at RSA Conference USA 2011, announced IronBee, a new open source project to provide the next-generation of web application firewall (WAF) technology. Led by the team who designed and built ModSecurity, the new project aims to produce a web application firewall sensor that is secure, high-performing, portable, and freely available – even for commercial use. Hosted at the web site www.ironbee.com, the project is open to all parties interested in joining the development effort.

    • Icinga 1.3.0 released!

      We are proud to announce the new Icinga version 1.3. The new version includes nearly 200 solved bugs and issues and marks another outstanding milestone in Icinga’s release history. One major change is the introduction into dualstack host monitoring with IPv6 support – check the wiki for a startup guide.

  • Licensing

    • Huh. Font licensing.

      So this afternoon I was making business cards for Teaching Open Source community members to hand out at the big SIGCSE conference that’s coming up.

  • Openness/Sharing/Transparency

    • Senators Introduce Sunshine in the Courtroom Act

      Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) have introduced legislation to permit federal and appellate judges to allow the use of cameras in the courtroom.

      “The judicial branch of our federal government is a mystery to many Americans. Cameras in courtrooms would help lift the veil of secrecy and contribute to greater public understanding of the judicial system,” Grassley said in a written statement.

    • Open Access/Content

      • APS to Adopt Creative Commons Licensing and Publish Open Access Articles and Journals (February 15, 2011)

        As of 15 February 2011, authors in most Physical Review journals have a new alternative: to pay an article-processing charge whereby their accepted manuscripts will be available barrier-free and open access on publication. These manuscripts will be published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (CC-BY), the most permissive of the CC licenses, granting authors and others the right to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work, provided that proper credit is given. This new alternative is in addition to traditional subscription-funded publication; authors may choose one or the other for their accepted papers.

    • Open Hardware

      • Marvell Introduces Kinoma – Revolutionary Open Software Platform to Unify Applications

        The newest version of Kinoma Play is the first product built on Kinoma. Featuring an elegant, touch-friendly design coupled with lightning fast speed, Kinoma Play shows how Kinoma delivers a seamlessly integrated user experience. Combining 40 applications, ranging from social networking to digital media to location to search, Kinoma Play offers consumers a simple, consistent user experience for work and play.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • The four pillars of modern IT openness

      *The second pillar is represented by open standards, which have transformed from somewhat of a joke in open source circles to a more true representation of the term and the words. Rather than a single vendor’s effort to get a technology standard viewed as open, today’s open standards have to really be open. Why? The market no longer accepts open standards that are open in name only. True, there are still plenty of aspects to standards, even open standards, that makes them more closed than open, but the situation has generally improved, and with continuing customer empowerment, vendor collaboration and the influence of open source software driving standards that are truly more open for participation and community. We do wonder what types of standards will be open enough as we push further into cloud computing, devops and other driving trends, but the overall industry movement now seems to be toward openness in standards. It’s not just analysts saying so, either. The market dictates standards arguably more than anything esle, and the market now demands (almost all of the time) they are open.

    • Boycott companies who sign onto the MPEG LA’s patent pool

      In response, we’re asking everyone who values a web free of restrictions and threats like this — and especially everyone who values the publication of audio and video files on the web — to sign a pledge that they will boycott any and all companies who sign onto this patent pool.

      Together, we can name, shame and penalize any corporation threatening a free web.


  • Silvio Berlusconi sent for trial accused of paying for sex with teenager

    Italy’s tumultuous 17-year relationship with its maverick prime minister entered a dangerous phase as Silvio Berlusconi was sent for trial on vice charges and his supporters declared the indictment an onslaught on the will of the people.

    The trial, to start in April and be presided over by three women judges, is unparalleled in the modern history of Italy, and may make an early general election unavoidable.

  • The NFL Or SkyNET: There Can Be Only One

    So says Rick Telander in a piece for the Chicago Sun Times, in which he declares that traumatic head injuries in those sports are stealing away our ability to fight the machines. Seriously. I couldn’t make this stuff up. To preface, it should be noted that Telander isn’t some crackpot pseudo-journalist. He is the senior sports columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, hired away from Sports Illustrated, where he was also a Senior Writer. He attended Northwestern University on a football scholarship and then went to training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs. Personally, I think he might have taken a few blows to the head himself.

  • Walmart Employees Fired For Stopping Armed Robber

    When a suspected shoplifter pulled a gun on employees at a Walmart in Utah last month, the staffers say they were left with no choice but to disarm the man, which they managed to do without anyone getting shot. Unfortunately for them, Walmart says it had no choice but to let these employees go.

    It began when Walmart workers noticed the suspect stick a netbook under his clothes. He was met at the exit by a loss-prevention coordinator who escorted him back to the loss-prevention room at the store where three more employees joined him.

  • Science

    • Being bilingual may delay Alzheimer’s and boost brain power

      Learning a second language and speaking it regularly can improve your cognitive skills and delay the onset of dementia, according to researchers who compared bilingual individuals with people who spoke only one language.

      Their study suggests that bilingual speakers hold Alzheimer’s disease at bay for an extra four years on average compared with monoglots. School-level language skills that you use on holiday may even improve brain function to some extent.

      In addition, bilingual children who use their second language regularly are better at prioritising tasks and multitasking compared with monolingual children, said Ellen Bialystok, a psychologist at York University in Toronto.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • South Dakota Moves To Legalize Killing Abortion Providers

      A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of “justifiable homicide” to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions. The Republican-backed legislation, House Bill 1171, has passed out of committee on a nine-to-three party-line vote, and is expected to face a floor vote in the state’s GOP-dominated House of Representatives soon.

    • The Global Crop Diversity Trust -Food fight

      One group of researchers examined the historic links between climate change and incidents of war in Europe and Asia. Going back a millennium, they uncovered a “strikingly high” correlation between temperature variation and the number of wars. Their explanation? Climate change has “significant direct effects on land-carrying capacity” which in turn “affects the food supply per capita.” In their words, “the paths to those disasters operated through a reduction in agricultural production.” As one might guess, these researchers, working from institutions in China, the US, and UK, found that the highest correlation between climate change and war occurred in arid regions, precisely the areas where food supplies were must vulnerable to climatic perturbations.

    • Whose Aid Is It Anyway?

      Skewed aid policies and practices threaten to undermine a decade of government donors’ international commitments to effective, needs-focussed international aid. This paper sets out how these commitments are being disregarded, and how this trend can be reversed.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Mubarak resignation throws into question U.S.-Egyptian counterterrorism work
    • Egyptian army hijacking revolution, activists fear

      Egypt’s revolution is in danger of being hijacked by the army, key political activists have warned, as concrete details of the country’s democratic transition period were revealed for the first time.

      Judge Tarek al-Beshry, a moderate Islamic thinker, announced that he had been selected by the military to head a constitutional reform panel. Its proposals will be put to a national referendum in two months’ time. The formation of the panel comes after high-ranking army officers met with selected youth activists on Sunday and promised them that the process of transferring power to a civilian government is now under way.

      But the Guardian has learned that despite public pronouncements of faith in the military’s intentions, elements of Egypt’s fractured political opposition are deeply concerned about the army’s unilateral declarations of reform and the apparent unwillingness of senior officers to open up sustained and transparent negotiations with those who helped organise the revolution.

    • The Middle East’s Pox Americana

      As we’ve watched the dramatic events in the Middle East, you would hardly know that we had a thing to do with them. Oh yes, in the name of its War on Terror, Washington had for years backed most of the thuggish governments now under siege or anxious that they may be next in line to hear from their people. When it came to Egypt in particular, there was initially much polite (and hypocritical) discussion in the media about how our “interests” and our “values” were in conflict, about how far the US should back off its support for the Mubarak regime, and about what a “tightrope” the Obama administration was walking. While the president and his officials flailed, the mildest of questions were raised about how much we should chide our erstwhile allies, or encourage the massed protestors, and about whether we should “take sides” (as though we hadn’t done so decisively over the last decades).

    • Israeli lecturers urge state to probe university’s alleged anti-leftist policies

      Bar-Ilan University faculty members urge Council For Higher Education to examine claims by lecturers that they were denied promotion because of leftist political activities and opinions.

    • Obama ‘warned of repercussions’ if Abbas takes settlements to UN

      President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday defied US attempts to get him to abandon a UN Security Council vote against Israeli settlements after being threatened with repercussions if he did not, his aides said.

    • Wikileaks: Economic Reasons Behind the Siege on Gaza

      As opposed to the way the Palestinian Authority (PA) was portrayed in leaked cables, leading to scandalous revelations, for a while Israel suffered no such scandal from the documents pertaining to its conduct. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even came out in support of the leak of the papers, suggesting that the documents can do no harm to Israel’s foreign policy.

    • Armed Israeli settlers storm Palestinian village near Hebron

      A group of heavily-armed Israeli settlers stormed the village of Beit Ummar, in the southern part of the West Bank, on Sunday night, harassing and threatening villagers but causing no injuries, according to local eyewitnesses.

    • The Afghanistan War: Tactical Victories, Strategic Stalemate?

      The top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, likes to describe the tactical gains his troops are making against insurgents. But a stream of independent data and analysis suggests a wide gap between those battlefield gains and the strategic progress needed to convince a skeptical President Obama, Congress and the public to stay with the war effort for at least three more years.

    • Vast uprisings in Tehran
    • Blood on the Streets of Bahrain

      Last summer, the government rounded up dozens of human rights workers, religious leaders and opposition figures who demanded an end to the regime’s habitual use of torture. Twenty-five were charged with “contacting foreign organizations and providing them with false and misleading information about the kingdom.” Half were charged with attempting to stage a coup. . In total, 450 have been arrested, including the well-known pro-democracy blogger Ali Abdulemam.

    • Yemen violence mounts in bid to remove President Saleh

      Anti-government protests flared in Yemen for the sixth consecutive day, turning violent as protests sprang up across the country, spurred on by the resignation last week of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

      In Yemen’s main southern city of Aden, security forces chased hundreds of people who took to the streets of Al-Mansura neighbourhood demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdallah Saleh. At least one protestor was shot dead by police as demonstrators hurled stones at police, set tyres and vehicles on fire and stormed a municipal building.

    • RFK Center Report: Western Sahara: Accounts Of Human Rights Abuses Persist In Wake Of November Unrest
    • Curveball doubts were shared with CIA, says ex-German foreign minister

      Germany’s former foreign minister Joschka Fischer has accused the former head of the CIA George Tenet of making implausible claims about the handling of the Curveball case by the US.

      On Wednesday Tenet, the director of central intelligence between 1997 and 2004, issued a statement on his website saying he discovered “too damn late” that Curveball – the Iraqi defector who became a key source for the CIA and the German secret service (BND) – might be a fabricator.

    • They pissed on him and he got eight months.

      Humiliation is a subjective matter, depending on people’s personal symbols. For me, for example, what feels most humiliating is not the fact that they urinated on him, but that they stripped him naked. At first Mohammad’s father was ashamed to tell about the pissing. To even say these words out loud. I think that for him, that was the most humiliating thing they did to his son, more than all the other things.
      What kind of person, I wonder, takes a 13-year old boy no matter why, and tortures him like this. And then I answer myself, almost any Israeli. Any soldier in the army when it comes to Palestinians. Any person, in fact, if only the local codes designate that it’s permissible.

    • The Indictment for Torture Filed Against George W. Bush (Part One: The Facts)

      In my article, I stated that “the fact that the torturer-in-chief has been made unwelcome in Europe — and, in theory, anywhere outside the US – is heartening news indeed,” and this remains the case. In the hope of keeping the story alive — and providing the Preliminary Bush Torture Indictment in an accessible form, I’ve divided the original PDF into two HTML documents, and am cross-posting the first part below. The second part will follow soon. Please not that CCR will amend the indictment as new information comes to light (as it undoubtedly will, given how much of the US torture story is still hidden), and please also note that the original contains detailed footnotes, which I have not attempted to replicate here, where I have, instead, inserted a number of important hyperlinks.

    • Lawmakers Flee Wisconsin Capitol, State Police Pursue; Protests Swell to 30,000

      UPDATE: According to Newsradio 620 WTMJ, “Democratic Senator Jon Erpenbach confirmed that he and all of his Democratic colleagues boarded a bus and left the state.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Green groups targeted polluters as corporate agents hid in their ranks

      At 8.04pm, an agent using the conspicuous alias Vandango007 received an email setting out the details of his deployment. The message had come from Rebecca Todd, chief executive of Vericola, a company spying on environmental campaigners on behalf of some of Europe’s largest power companies.

      It was September 2009, and green activists involved in the Climate Camp network were planning a major demonstration against Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in Nottinghamshire, owned by one of Todd’s clients, the energy company E.ON. A meeting to plan the protest was being held at London’s SOAS university, and Todd wanted someone on the inside.

    • What’s behind the Belo Monte dam

      I recently witnessed a conversation between someone working for the Brazilian federal government and an environmentalist; both were Workers’ party (PT) supporters (the ruling party of President Dilma Rousseff).

      “I’m in favour of the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric plant,” the former said, “but I concede it’s not a ‘left versus right’ issue.”

    • How much oil does Saudi Arabia actually have?

      Does anyone know how much oil Saudi Arabia has left? Last week a series of US diplomatic cables from 2007-2009 and released by WikiLeaks suggested that senior US embassy staff were warning Washington that reserves could be 40% less than stated and that “peak oil” might be imminent.

    • The dirty history of corporate spying

      Greenpeace is claiming these two multinational chemical outfits between 1998 and 2000 set up a clandestine operation to break into Greenpeace Washington offices to steal “confidential information and trade secrets”, go through its trash cans, conducted surveillance of its employees and ran an undercover operation to penetrate and disrupt the organisation’s campaigns involving climate change, genetic foods and chemical pollution. According to the suit, the chemical companies and their PR firms employed a now-defunct private detective firm called Beckett Brown International (BBI) to do the dirty work. The companies have denied the allegations; detailed responses to the Greenpeace complaint are due soon.

    • The gas industry attacks an Oscar nominee

      “Gasland” is a highly compelling grass-roots-level exposé of the explosion of natural gas drilling across the United States since 2005, when a little-noticed clause in Dick Cheney’s energy bill exempted the aggressive and invasive extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “hydrofracking,” from any federal regulation or oversight. Fracking, at least in its recent, higher-tech reinvention, involves the explosive injection of millions of gallons of water, laced with tons of toxic chemicals, in an effort to free natural gas trapped deep in the shale. It appears anecdotally connected to hundreds if not thousands of cases of groundwater contamination and a wide range of health problems.

    • GOP “Carpet Bombing” of Environmental Protection Continues

      To the dismay of environmentalists, religious groups, and citizens nationwide, this week House Republicans (and a handful of Democrats) have been piling on amendments to the temporary government-spending proposal, or Continuing Resolution (CR)—moves that would further undercut regulatory powers for federal agencies with environmental protection duties. (MoJo’s Kate Sheppard has more on the CR from last week.)

    • Common Cause Seeks Details of Justice Thomas’ Reported ‘Drop-by’ at Koch Industries Political Meeting

      Common Cause raised a new ethical question Monday about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, asking the Court for a thorough accounting of a January 2008 trip in which the justice spent four days in California for what the court has said was a single speech and a “drop-by” at a gathering of business executives and veteran political operatives.

      A court spokesperson’s description last month of the trip is “problematic” compared with financial disclosure reports filed by Thomas, the government watchdog group asserted.

      “Justice Thomas has acknowledged spending four days in a popular resort area, with his tab covered by Federalist Society. It’s difficult to square such a prolonged stay with what the court now describes as one speech to the Federalists and a ‘drop-by’ at a nearby Koch Industries event,” said Bob Edgar, Common Cause’s president and CEO.

    • Billionaire tea party tycoons financed Wisconsin’s anti-union governor, records show

      Who was the principle financiers of Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, now embroiled in a controversial attempt to destroy public sector unions?

      None other than reviled tea party financiers Charles and David Koch, is who.

      Turns out, the billionaire oil tycoons’ political action committee gave Gov. Scott Walker (R) roughly $100,000 in campaign contributions during the 2010 election, according to campaign finance records highlighted by Mother Jones.

    • Scientist finds Gulf bottom still oily, dead

      Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist’s video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn’t degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.

      That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012.

      At a science conference in Washington, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn’t.

    • Japan recalls whaling fleet from Antarctic

      Japan has recalled its whaling fleet from the Antarctic following confrontations with activists from the Sea Shepherd marine conservation group, the government has said, in a move that has raised hopes that the hunts will be halted altogether.

  • Finance

    • 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.

    • Have You Heard? Bharara Wants to Stiffen Insider-Trading Penalties

      When the book gets written on Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, we’re not sure exactly what it will say.

      But you can bet that not too far into the introduction the writer will mention the words “insider trading.” While under Bharara’s watch, his office has launched the largest assault on insider-trading in decades. Convictions have come, and bigger ones may follow.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Consumers sue retailers over ZIP Code queries

      Last week’s state Supreme Court ruling barring merchants from asking customers for their ZIP Codes sparks a flurry of litigation against such chains as Wal-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond and Crate & Barrel.

    • NYC Hospital Data Theft Affects 1.7 Million Patients

      The confidential personal health data of about 1.7 million New York City patients, staff members and others affiliated with four Bronx hospitals were stolen in December, according to the city’s Health and Hospitals Corp.

    • Court stays order to turn over juror’s Facebook postings

      They issued subpoenas to Facebook and Ramirez for the records of the post. The social networking website refused and Ramirez challenged the subpoena. The trial court ordered Ramirez to sign an order giving him until Feb. 14 to sign a consent form that would allow Facebook to hand over the postings.

    • Durbin urges Facebook to allow protesters anonymity

      Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) asked Facebook Thursday to offer better protections for protesters in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, where the social networking site has been used by organizers.

      The problem, Durbin wrote in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is that the company doesn’t allow anyone to use fake names – exposing activists to the governments who monitor the website.

  • Civil Rights

    • FBI to announce new Net-wiretapping push

      Any solution, according to a copy of Caproni’s prepared comments obtained by CNET, should include a way for police armed with wiretap orders to conduct surveillance of “Web-based e-mail, social networking sites, and peer-to-peer communications technology.”

    • Hillary’s Hypocrisy

      During that speech Ray McGovern, a veteran who also served for 27 years as a CIA analyst, exercised his freedom of speech by standing and silently turning his back on Secretary Clinton. He was protesting the ongoing wars, the treatment of Bradley Manning and the militarism of U.S. foreign policy. He did not shout at the Secretary of State or interrupt her speech. He merely stood in silence. See the video here of the incident: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-Vy8fFnz18

      McGovern’s action was a powerful one and it threatened the Secretary of State. Two police officers roughed him up, pulled him from the audience and arrested him. As you can see from the pictures, the 71 year old McGovern, was battered and bruised, indeed his attorney reports he was left in jail bleeding.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • Bell class action suit approved by Que. court

      A Quebec Superior Court judge has authorized a class action lawsuit to go ahead against Bell Mobility.

      The case was launched by Denis Gagnon, a former Bell customer, who said the cellphone provider illegally charged him hefty early contract termination fees.

    • Senators Dump Internet ‘Kill Switch’ for Cyber-Attack Response

      The president can’t use emergency measures to order an Internet shutdown to combat cyber attacks, according to revised legislation introduced yesterday by three senators.

      The 2011 Cybersecurity Freedom Act — proposed by senators Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent; Susan Collins of Maine; and Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat — is almost identical to the legislation the senators introduced in June with two exceptions.

      The bill adds language that forbids the president from shutting down the Internet during a national crisis. It also permits owners of major computer systems deemed as critical infrastructure, and therefore subject to Homeland Security Department regulations, to appeal their status in federal court.


    • Sony Threatens to Terminate Service of PS3 Jailbreakers
    • Death Of Nokia’s ‘Comes With Music’ Shows That ‘Free’ With DRM Is A Losing Proposition

      This is from a little while ago, but I’m just catching up on some older stories. Reader Rabbit80 points us to the news that Nokia has finally put its “Comes with Music” program out of its misery and shut it down. Comes with Music was actually an interesting idea: you buy a phone and for 12 months you get free music downloads. At a conceptual level, this sounds great: you’re using the abundant (free music!) to make the scarce (mobile phone!) more valuable. But, like everything, a good idea can be marred by the execution. And, in this case, the execution involved the major record labels demanding that “Comes with Music” really mean “Comes with DRM’d Music.” A year and a half ago we pointed out that Comes With Music was really getting very little uptake, and the decision to kill it off just confirms how weak the pickup was.

    • Sony: PlayStation 3 Pirates Will Be Banned for Life
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • CETA and Copyright: My Appearance Before the Standing Committee on International Trade

      This week I was invited to appear before the Standing Committee on International Trade to discuss the ongoing negotiations of the Canada – European Union Comprehensive Trade Agreement (CETA). I’ve written about some concerns associated with CETA in the past (here, here, here, and here). The appearance comes just as speculation mounts that CETA is running into significant barriers with opposition from many groups and a lack of strong support at the provincial level. While a trade deal that focuses on traditional trade barriers may make sense, the EU’s effort to re-write Canadian regulatory policy on issues such as intellectual property is why the deal should be scrapped or slimmed down.

    • Trademarks

      • [UPDATED] Pasadena’s Dervaes Family Trademarks the Terms ‘Urban Homestead’ and ‘Urban Homesteading,’ Now Cracking Down on Bloggers

        They’ve gone as far as to sanctimoniously lecture the world on their website (you’ll have to look it up, because no way in hell I’m linking to them) since the controversy broke about the intricacies of trademark law to, as they put it, “cut through the mob of misinformation…of course, urban homesteading is ‘old’ but we used it in a new and unique way and that is what is registered.”

        Actually, no. The Dervaeses aren’t just going after people who have ripped off their writings (a perfectly legitimate legal move, mind you) but ANYONE using the terms “urban homestead” and “urban homesteading.”

    • Copyrights

      • Tucson photographer Jon Wolf seeks fees for image of Christina Taylor Green

        A Tucson portrait photographer whose image of 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green was shared with media outlets by her family after she was killed is seeking compensation from numerous media companies, including The Arizona Republic and TucsonCitizen.com, and has threatened to sue if he is not paid.

      • Update copyright law for pre-industrial era, says law professor

        UK copyright law needs an overhaul to bring it into line with pre-industrial cultures, says a top legal academic. It may strike you as the Most Imaginative Use of Politically-Correct Rhetoric you’ve ever heard, but the joke is ultimately on you: the project has won funding from the Department of Business.

      • Testimony Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hearing on “Targeting Websites Dedicated to Stealing American IP”
      • Mardi Gras Indians Still Trying To Copyright Costumes

        Of course, they claim they’re really only concerned with people who try to make money off the photographs by selling them, so not just your everyday tourist snapping a shot. However, as we noted, this whole thing goes against the very purpose of copyright law, which was to provide an incentive to create. But these guys have plenty of incentives to create that have nothing to do with copyright. Basically, they’re just upset that someone, somewhere might make money selling a calendar of Mardi Gras photos without paying them first. Of course, the simple response to this is that they should just create their own damn calendar and sell it themselves. Competition for the win.

      • Millennium Park Garden Deemed Not Copyrightable, Because Gardens Are Not Authored

        Eric Goldman points us to a fascinating ruling concerning whether or not an artistic garden can be covered by copyright (pdf). The ruling itself (embedded below) is interesting for a variety of reasons. It goes over the basics of “moral rights” in US copyright in great detail. As most people know, for the most part, the US does not recognize moral rights — even though the Berne Convention (which the US has tragically signed on to) requires it. Partly to get around this, the US did put in extremely limited moral rights for a very small subset of works, and part of this case revolves around that.

      • Rhapsody bites back at Apple

        With Apple officially sharing the details of its new App Store subscription plan, which lays the groundwork for Apple to take a 30-percent cut from publishers who sell content within their apps, we were waiting for some reaction from content providers. Well, one, Rhapsody, has finally braved Apple’s wrath and issued a statement saying Apple’s new arrangement was “economically untenable.” And while it didn’t threaten legal action, it certainly hinted at it.

      • Movie Studios, Publishers Seek Limits On Celebrities’ ‘Rights Of Publicity’

        What kind of control should celebrities have over creative works that involve their images? In a high-stakes case just argued in a California appeals court, media companies are asking for courts to place clearer limits on celebrities’ intellectual property rights in their own images, known as “rights of publicity.” The case is about whether Electronic Arts (NSDQ: ERTS) has to pay college athletes when it uses their image in video games, but it could have wide-ranging ramifications in other digital arts as well. That’s why the major movie studios and several newspaper companies are backing EA in this battle.

        EA and its supporters argue that if rights of publicity aren’t properly balanced against the First Amendment, it would make it impossible to create artworks about famous persons like The King’s Speech or The Social Network.

      • Texas chainsaw massacre: senior judge “severs” most P2P lawsuits

        Last month, we profiled Evan Stone, the Denton, Texas attorney who has brought nearly every Internet file-sharing lawsuit in the state since getting into the business in mid-2010. Stone sues a few hundred to a few thousand anonymous defendants on behalf of his client, has Internet providers look up their real names and addresses, then asks them to settle for a couple thousand bucks before he files a federal lawsuit against them personally. Most cases have involved pornography distributed by BitTorrent, but Stone recently convinced the anime distributor FUNimation to adopt the technique after much hesitation on the part of the FUNimation.

      • Copyrights and Copywrongs

        Why not give in and give up all rights in your work? Surrendering a copyright is like surrendering a child to adoption: You surrender all rights of custody and control over your work. In fact, it’s no longer your work; it’s the property of the publication. You may not recycle, reprint it, or quote extensively from it in violation of fair use without the publication’s permission. The publication’s employees (editors) may rewrite what was once your work without your permission, altering your perspective as well as your language, including or omitting your byline at their discretion. Usually they disavow any intent to substantively alter your work, but I am always wary of people who make non-negotiable demands for rights they claim to have no intention of exercising. (When confronted with these contracts, I almost always offer publishers a perpetual license to reprint my work for free, but they almost always demand all rights, including the unilateral right to alter it, as well.)

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