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02.22.11

Links 22/2/2011: Graphics Test Week at Fedora, Telstra Complies With GPL, Python 3.2 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 1:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Challenges facing Linux on the desktop

    But let’s face it, most of you reading this article aren’t hardcore PC gamers. You (like me) spend your time playing those goofy little time-management games in your web browser. Similarly, you’re probably not using Quickbooks for your personal finances – and if you are, you can do that directly on the web now.

    If I had to guess, your most used program on the computer in front of you now is a web browser like Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer. Your second most used program is a music manager like iTunes. The funny thing is, there are Linux programs that accomplish the same things and usually do it better.

  • Desktop

    • Background: German Foreign Office drops Linux

      The German Foreign Office will migrate its desktop computers from Linux back to Windows. However, no truly compelling reasons for the decision appear to exist.

      [...]

      The recently disclosed documents show that there are no compelling factual reasons; the decision is ultimately a strategic one. Incidentally, so was the decision to implement Linux a few years ago.

  • Server

    • NYSE, Deutsche Borse merger places IT on the front line

      The two parties, both big implementers of Linux-based technology, confirmed savings targets of 300 million (£255 million) from IT and other operations, as technology is merged, as well as highlighting increased scale for selling data services to clients. A name for the new group, in which Deutsche Borse shareholders will own 60% of the equity, has not yet been given.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 30th January 2011

        In the latest KDE Commit-Digest:

        * Work on the CSV importer in KMyMoney
        * Work across the board in Calligra, including improved PPT format support
        * Work on video and sending/recieving files with the Yahoo protocol in Kopete amongst other changes
        * Work on search history support in KDevPlatform
        * New Booksmarks Manager (including support for importing bookmarks) in Marble, amongst many bug fixes
        * Much work throughout Kst including optimisations

        [...]

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Default Wallpaper for GNOME:Ayatana

        Not that I know a lot about Artwork or Wallpapers… For those, I am mainly a ‘customer’ most of the times, and things get easy for… either I like it, or I don’t. There’s a lot of stuff available out there, and initially I loved the snake (I still do), but since I couldn’t distribute it due to licensing, I’ve spent a couple of hours looking for Artwork with a compatible license and contacted a few artists about licensing and the possibility of using/distributing their work.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Unity Launcher Gets Unofficial Patch To Allow Icon Resizing. But Will It Be Approved?

          Andrea Azzarone, who’s also behind the menu integrated in the window titlebar Unity mockup we’ve posted last week has created a patch that provides an option to change the Unity launcher (“dock”) icon size.

        • Fedora and openSUSE slow in adapting Unity

          It seems that so far, Ubuntu is going to be the only GNU / Linux, among the most popular, Unity will use the desktop in the short term. Adam Williamson, Fedora , and Nelson Marques on openSUSE were working on the adaptation of Unity for their respective distributions . For different reasons have been forced to halt its work.

          Adam Williamson commented on his blog that his work in adapting to Fedora Unity had been since the voluntary principle. Argues lack of motivation to continue with it, your job responsibilities and the non-resolution of Unity bug that had resolved at this stage by its maintainer.

        • What does ‘Natty Narwhal’ actually mean? You’ll be surprised…

          Two words that form the code name for the new version of Ubuntu – but both are rather unique. Here we take a look at where each word came from and what it means today…

        • Unity Launcher Will Support Icon Resizing!

          Well that was fast! Mark Shuttleworth has just posted a comment on the bug report regarding icon resizing support for the Unity launcher…

        • Ubuntu Pocket Reference app for Android

          Being an avid user of Android I’m always on the hunt for Ubuntu related apps on the Market place.

          A few days ago I came across ‘Ubuntu pocket reference’ – a free application for Android that claims to list ‘the most popular and most useful Ubuntu/Linux commands.’

        • Get an overview of what we’re doing

          Thanks to the nice folk at LeanKit Kanban, we’ve now got a guest account set up so that anyone can our kanban board. The board shows all of the high level features that we are working on (those are the green ones), the infrastructure projects we’re doing (those are the blue ones) and all of the community-driven work that we know about (the yellow ones).

        • Follow Ubuntu Progress at a Glance, or Not

          Unfortunately, the given login and password are still not working 12 hours after the announcement.

        • A warm welcome to Canonical

          The Document Foundation welcomes the contribution of Canonical‘s development team to LibreOffice.

        • Ubuntu: Where Did the Love Go?

          Over the next few years, Shuttleworth continued to stress the advantages of coordinated releases, arguing that it would allow centralized bug tracking, and suggesting that the cooperation might extend to common training materials.

        • Upstreams, Downstreams, and Revenue Streams in Ubuntu

          With great power comes great responsibility. No, I’m not talking about Peter Parker and superpowers by spiderbite, I’m talking about the control that vendors have over platforms like iOS, Windows, and Ubuntu. While Canonical may not be quite as powerful as Apple or Microsoft, the company still has a lot of power when it comes to connecting users to open source applications and choosing defaults in Ubuntu releases. How is Canonical using that power? Less heroically than one might hope.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Interview with Intel Peter Biddle, MeeGo, the Cosmos and Beyond

        Its not often I bump into someone almost as cool as me, but I got to Interview Peter Biddle who is the General Manager of Product and Services for Intel about MeeGo and its great to meet someone with a real fire in their belly.

        Intel is attracted to MeeGo as it is a Development Open Source Operating System as they have been investing in the Linux Kernel for over four years now. They are now shifting their focus onto two additional layers, the development platform including Qt and also Great development services. They are looking forward to a slick and sexy user interfaces powered by MeeGo.

      • Intel CEO says Nokia should have picked Android

        Otellini said Nokia’s Chief Executive Stephen Elop received “incredible offers — money” from Google and Microsoft to switch.

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • GTK+/MeeGo Handset integration: Week 3

          The initial plan for this week was continue working on kinetic scrolling support for GtkScrolledWindow, however I decided to take a look at the other bugs to give some more time to get review/feedback of the kinetic scrolling work in progress patch.

        • Open ballot: does Qt have a future?

          Nokia’s recent bombshell announcement that it would team up with Microsoft has generated much brow-furrowing in the free software community. The Finnish mobile giant claims that it still plans to launch some kind of MeeGo-related product this year, and that Qt has an important role to play in it. But can we really believe that? Will Qt be alive and healthy 12 months from now, or is it really destined for the dustbin when the Micronokia deal gets into full swing?

      • Android

        • Is the HTC Flyer completely unique or a generation too late?

          At Mobile World Congress 2011, HTC announced its long-rumored Android tablet – the HTC Flyer. Running an Android 2.3, tablet-optimized version of Sense UI, the Flyer is a one-of-a-kind device. But after seeing the Flyer following close contact with the first crop of Honeycomb tablets, I couldn’t help but wonder if the Flyer’s rare qualities would also be its undoing.

          Mobile World Congress featured several devices running Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), the official version of Android sanctioned by Google as being ideal for tablets. There were also demo’s of apps that will require Honeycomb to work, or at least provide more features for 3.0-capable devices. Factor in Google’s own improvements like a new YouTube app and Movie Studio for editing videos, and the Flyer looks far less impressive than it would had the device been announced just four months ago.

        • U.S. Cellular Offering Android Deals, Including “Buy-One-Get-Five”

          U.S. Cellular recently took home Best Wireless Carrier (US) by Consumer Reports’ and it’s easy to see why. The carrier consistently comes up with great ideas and promotions that other providers can’t touch. And like your favorite radio station, the hits keep coming.

          Starting today and running through March 10, any customer who picks up a Samsung Mesmerize (Galaxy S) for $99.99 can get up to five additional LG Optimus U smartphones free of charge. Yea, that’s a BOGF (Buy One Get Five) deal. Further, they are also doing the same with the Optimus U in that buying one at $29.99 will allow for five more for free.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Tips for an open source process

    Governance is the word for open source in 2011. Governance breaks down to two topics, structures and process.

    The same elements that make for a stable democratic system also make for good open source governance. This doesn’t mean you need a balance of powers, or a judicial branch. It means you need the rules of governance clearly stated, and a process that will allow the best ideas to get prompt action from those running the project.

    This is true regardless of the type of project you’re running, assuming you care about getting something out of your community. Not every project cares. If you see open source as a feature, something that just lets you distribute free and gain customers by dialing downloaders for dollars, then governance and process may not matter to you. On the other hand, community-driven projects badly need a process to give everyone a chance to participate fully. Corporate communities need process negotiated so the companies involved have their prerogatives protected.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Thunderbird Indicator Adds Folders Support
      • Can We Ship Yet? Firefox 4 Bug Countdown

        I can’t quite remember that we have been so excited about any other bug list ever. Mozilla is getting very creative in keeping the focus on eliminating every single hard- blocking bug from the Firefox 4 code and has, to our knowledge, posted the first-ever bug countdown for a significant public software. Can we ship yet?

  • Healthcare

    • UK: Open systems towards improving NHS IT

      The City University London’s Centre for Health Informatics (CHI) launched Health Informatics research programme and policy challenge paper to identify how NHS information technology (IT) services can be improved and made more cost-effective.

    • An open source approach to Veterans Affairs medical info

      For years, the VA has run the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), which is their Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. Turns out it was written by clinicians themselves, and has served well over years. However, the VA believes it might be time to use open source methods in a kind of public/private partnership. This is a really big deal, novel in government, which might also improve the health record systems we all use. This could become the basis of a jointly developed health records platform.

  • Licensing

    • Telstra frees T-Hub open source code

      The nation’s biggest telco Telstra has made the open source software components used to build its T-Hub next-generation home telephone system publicly available, after it was criticised for keeping them private by an Australian software developer last year.

      In November, local software developer Angus Gratton pointed out that a number of new Telstra products introduced throughout 2010, namely the T-Hub, T-Box media centre and potentially its T-Touch Tab tablet device, were based on the Linux operating system, which has substantial portions licensed under the GNU General Public License.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Why Platforms Leak: The Impact of Artificial Scarcity

      For nearly a decade, I have espoused the view that every artificial scarcity shall be met, and ultimately overcome, by an appropriate abundance. I think it’s time to view this statement in the context of platforms and “leakage”. Let me explain what I mean.

    • Open Hardware

      • Intel sends ‘Poulson’ Itaniums to the shrink

        Everyone else might have pretty much abandoned the Itanium processor, but Intel and Hewlett-Packard – who co-designed the 64-bit processor – remain firmly committed. That’s mainly because HP has a captive audience of HP-UX, NonStop, and OpenVMS customers that spend billions of dollars a year on systems and therefore make it worth Intel’s financial while.

        The future “Poulson” Itanium processor will close out the Monday sessions devoted to enterprise processors at the IEEE’s International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, but to keep the Poulson Itaniums from getting lost in the CPU news shuffle, Intel gave press and analysts a sneak peek at some of the details it will divulge at ISSCC.

  • Programming

    • Python 3.2 Released

      A major update to Python is now available. With Python 3.2 there are improvements spanning from the Python Debugger to its SSL module and behavior fixes for numeric operations.

    • Python 3.2

      Python 3.2 was released on February 20th, 2011.

      Python 3.2 is a continuation of the efforts to improve and stabilize the Python 3.x line. Since the final release of Python 2.7, the 2.x line will only receive bugfixes, and new features are developed for 3.x only.

    • Unifying the Two Worlds of Perl 5

      Perl 5 has two separate poles around which we users orbit when considering the historical stages of Perl 5 adoption: system administrators and developers.

      While explaining the meaning of the phrase “Modern Perl” the other day, I realized that there are two categories of users of Perl 5 when we consider the use of Perl 5.

Leftovers

  • How to Talk About Citizens United

    In response to the recent one year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which overturned bans on corporate cash in elections, many friends on the progressive side of the aisle are drawing attention to this issue, talking about the impact in the 2010 elections, and discussing solutions to the problem. I promise to do none of those things here.

    If you’re reading this article, you probably already know most of the story of Citizens United and know that it’s a bad thing for our democracy. The question is how to talk about Citizens United in a way that convinces other people to realize this too. So, a few fellow message gurus, wordsmiths, and myself put our heads together and here’s what we came up with.

  • Google ‘Person Finder’ tool after Christchurch earthquake

    Technology is coming to the aid of those affected by last night’s earthquake in Christchurch.

    Within hours of the devastating 6.3-magnitude quake, Google’s “emergency response team” had set up a simple web tool to help people request and post information about missing friends and relatives.

  • Science

    • New anti-laser tech paves way for optical computing

      Yale University scientists have built what they call the first anti-laser, a device that can cancel out beams of light generated by a laser.

      Such a device could be an integral element in optical computers, a long promised successor to today’s computers that would use light instead of electrons to process information.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Japan unearths site linked to human experiments

      Authorities in Japan have begun excavating the former site of a medical school that may contain the remains of victims of the country’s wartime biological warfare programme.

      The school has links to Unit 731, a branch of the imperial Japanese army that conducted lethal experiments on prisoners as part of efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

    • AG Caldwell Files Fraud Suit Against Glaxosmithkline

      The suit claims that GSK wrongfully and illegally marketed, priced, sold and promoted the diabetes medication rosiglitazone maleate under the trade names Avandia®, Avandamet®, and Avandaryl®, violating Louisiana’s Medical Assistance Programs Integrity Law (MAPIL), the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protections Law and other state laws.

  • Security

    • Monday’s security updates
    • Anonymous, Atlas Shrugged, George Washington, Science Fiction, And Disruptive Technologies

      Anonymous is a child of technology, specifically Disruptive Technologies. Computers. The Internet. Automobiles. Airplanes. And many other technologies, all of which combined to offer Anonymous options that the generations before would not have had. And all of these technologies were written about in Science Fiction long before they could be implemented in a practically.

    • How a Remote Town in Romania Has Become Cybercrime Central

      Three hours outside Bucharest, Romanian National Road 7 begins a gentle ascent into the foothills of the Transylvanian Alps. Meadowlands give way to crumbling houses with chickens in the front yard, laundry flapping on clotheslines. But you know you’ve arrived in the town of Râmnicu Vâlcea when you see the Mercedes-Benz dealership.

    • HBGary’s leaked e-mail ain’t getting boring yet

      One interesting little organisation to come to the attention of the information security industry since HBGary Federal got popped is a US-based company named Endgame Systems.

      It’s a slightly shadowy information security company based in the US that appears to offer its services almost exclusively to the US military and intelligence apparatus.

      It was founded in 2008 by a bunch of senior ex-ISS execs and founders like Chris Rouland and Thomas Noonan.

      Well, thanks to the “liberation” of HBGary’s e-mail by Anonymous and the leak-sifters over at Cryptome, we’ve now all got access to everything from a high-level overview of Endgame’s “capabilities” to its pricelist and a sample report.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Libya crisis: what role do tribal loyalties play?

      Women in Libya are free to work and to dress as they like, subject to family constraints. Life expectancy is in the seventies. And per capita income – while not as high as could be expected given Libya’s oil wealth and relatively small population of 6.5m – is estimated at $12,000 (£9,000), according to the World Bank.

    • Middle East and North Africa unrest
    • Two Libyan fighter pilots defect, fly to Malta

      Two Libyan Air Force fighter pilots defected on Monday and flew their jets to Malta where they told authorities they had been ordered to bomb protesters, Maltese government officials said.

    • Libya updates: U.S. keeping tabs on Libya

      U.S. authorities were keeping a close watch on Libya’s rapidly unfolding political crisis Monday in part to see what possibilities might exist for meaningful reform, a senior Obama administration official said.

    • UK Hague: some information Gaddafi on way to Venezuela

      British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday he had seen some information to suggest Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi had fled the country and was on his way to Venezuela.

    • Gun Shots At Malpensa: Tunisian Hurt

      Shots have been fired at Malpensa Airport, as a Tunisian attempted to reach his departing wife. The man is said to have crossed into the runway area in an SUV and apparently got out clutching a knife.

    • Libyan embassy staff quit in Stockholm

      “We, the undersigned staff of the Libyan embassy in Stockholm, condemn the genocide that is taking place in Libya against civilians as a consequence of the legitimate demands for a life of dignity and without the despot Qaddafi’s continued misrule and corruption.”

      The statement was written by three staff members of the Libyan embassy in Stockholm — translator Sayed Jalabi, receptionist Hamid Kassem and secretary Abdelali Mahfouf, says The Local.

    • Libya erupts as Gaddafi clings on – live updates

      10.32am: A Libyan political refugee from Manchester has gone on hunger strike and says he won’t stop until the British government “gets firm” with Muammar Gaddafi.

      Saad Amer, 52, spent seven years in prison in Tripoli during the 1980s for protesting against the regime. Amer, who now lives in Cheetham Hill after fleeing Libya in 1995, told the Manchester Evening News: “It is very important for the British government to say Gaddafi must step down now. I am not happy with the statements coming from here. There needs to be stronger language.”

    • Libya: US accuses Britain of legitimising Gaddafi

      Louis Susman, the US ambassador to London, suggested moves to repair relations with the Libyan dictator had only served to give him “greater stature” on the world stage while campaigners condemned the rapprochement as a failure.

      Up to 300 demonstrators are thought to have been killed after forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi attacked them with sniper fire, knives and heavy artillery.

      The eastern city of Benghazi was said to be in a state of “civil mutiny” after forces, believed to be African mercenaries, attacked crowds attending mass burials of the dead from earlier violence.

    • Why do you Libyans want Gaddafi gone? Here are some reasons…

      # Salaries in Libya are governed by law number 15 which sets the average salary of Libyans at 200 dollars per month. To make things worst it is customary to have this low wage paid intermittently.
      # Law number 4 caters for the confiscation of private and commercial property, practically passing such stolen properties to the members of his family and of its so called revolutionary committee members who are in charge of security.
      # The burning down of the land registry building in Tripoli to destroy any reference of legal ownership of property.

    • Ian McEwan attacks ‘great injustice’ in Israel

      The British author Ian McEwan launched an eloquent attack on Israeli government policies in his speech accepting the Jerusalem prize for literature, saying “a great and self-evident injustice hangs in the air”.

    • Texas poised to pass bill allowing guns on campus

      Texas is preparing to give college students and professors the right to carry guns on campus, adding momentum to a national campaign to open this part of society to firearms.

      More than half the members of the Texas House have signed on as co-authors of a measure directing universities to allow concealed handguns. The Senate passed a similar bill in 2009 and is expected to do so again. Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who sometimes packs a pistol when he jogs, has said he’s in favor of the idea.

    • Mapping Harassment on the Streets of Cairo

      In an interview co-founder Rebecca Chiao said that managing the project on a volunteer basis is a very difficult task. Rebecca says, “we don’t have any money, so we have to be creative. We love working on a volunteer basis, but it also means we all have other commitments like jobs and families, so it takes a lot of effort from us all to coordinate our little bits of free time to work together and make things happen.”

    • Twitter network of Arab and Middle East protests – interactive map
    • Thank Wisconsin’s courageous state senators who have joined with protesters to block the Republican attack on public employees.

      Amazing. Inspiring. This is what people power can do.

      When Republican Governor Scott Walker attacked state workers and threatened to call out the National Guard if they protested, it sparked a popular uprising in Wisconsin. And now the extreme proposal to take collective bargaining rights away from public employees is temporarily blocked as a result of mass protests.

  • Cablegate

    • US Ambassador Louis Susman on Julian Assange (20Feb11)
    • Journalism Should Not Be Fiction

      I just read a very disturbing Haaretz article, An inside look at the WikiLeaks revolution, in that the author assumes facts not in evidence.

      Bradley Manning has been charged but not heard. The word “alleged” is traditionally used in real journalism to describe charges laid but unproven. Under American law, that means that Bradley Manning is innocent– it’s called “The Presumption of Innocence.”

      [...]

      Haaretz’ writer Yossi Melman should consider writing novels where flights of fancy are acceptable, even admirable. Writing fictional accounts in the guise of reportage is certainly not admirable, and in fact is generally considered unacceptable. Fraudulent, even. The point to remember is that the news is generally about real people. What one says or writes can have real repercussions.

    • Govt failures contributed to rise of neo-paramilitaries: Wikileaks

      Wikileaks has published a series of cables from 2006 highlighting significant failings in the Justice and Peace Law (JPL) that led demobilized paramilitary fighters to return to arms.

      In November 2006, Sergio Caramagna, the director of the OAS Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP/OEA), visited Colombia and identified 14 neo-paramilitary organizations with a possible eight more. These groups, he said, consisted largely of narco-traffickers along with paramilitaries who had refused to demobilize despite benefits offered by the government. There was also a small percentage of paramilitaries who had already purportedly demobilized.

    • Israel and Chile cooperated to spy on Iran, WikiLeaks reveals

      Chile and Israel both expressed concern over growing ties between Venezuela and Iran, and well as the potential Iranian presence on border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, cable says.

    • This House believes the world is better off with Wikileaks
    • American who sparked diplomatic crisis over Lahore shooting was CIA spy
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • 10 Most Endangered Forests on Earth

      2011 is the International Year of the Forest and never before have they been in more danger, or more essential. Forests supply the needs of 1.6 billion people who depend on them for income, they store over 25 gigatons of carbon while 15% of greenhouse gas emissions come from destruction of forests. Equally importantly, they are mini-factories in the web of life, and clean air, crop pollination, medicine, healthy soil and fresh water are all produced due to the interaction of forest ecosystems.
      The 10 forest hotspots most threatened have already lost 90% of their habitat but are home to 1,500 plant species found nowhere else in the world. Join me in a closer look at each of them.

    • Study shows Welsh sheep ‘more clever than thought’

      Sheep aren’t viewed as the cleverest of creatures, but new research has found they might be a lot more intelligent than previously thought.

      Scientists at the University of Cambridge found that Welsh mountain sheep can map their surroundings, and may even be able to plan ahead.

    • Canada Bullying The European Union Over Tar Sands, Threatening To Scuttle Trade Agreement

      Canada is using Alberta’s dirty tar sands as an excuse to bully the European Union (EU) into watering down its climate change policies, leaving the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) in serious doubt.

      This brewing transatlantic dispute over the tar sands stems from the likelihood that the EU could officially block the sale of Alberta oil in Europe given its high carbon content.

    • Fourth baby dolphin found dead on Horn Island

      The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies has confirmed that a fourth baby dolphin has washed ashore on Horn Island,

      The island, one of the longest in the chain that comprises the Gulf Islands National Seashore Park, is about 12 miles south of Ocean Springs.

      Three baby dolphins were pinpointed Monday and a fourth was reported today by National Resource Advisory employees who are working with BP cleanup crews on the island.

  • Finance

    • Huawei drops a controversial US takeover bid for 3Leaf

      Huawei, a Chinese telecom equipment maker, has dropped a controversial takeover of US server firm 3Leaf.

      Huawei, which has had earlier US deals blocked on security concerns, bought 3Leaf in May 2010 for $2m (£3.1m) but did not immediately disclose the deal.

      A subsequent review by the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States said the deal should not go ahead.

    • Microfinance guru Muhammad Yunus faces removal from Grameen Bank

      Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel prizewinning economist and so-called father of microfinance, faces being ousted from the bank that he founded to help poor people in Bangladesh and across the developing world.

      Yunus, the managing director of the Grameen Bank, which has lent small sums to millions of deprived people to help them start or run their own businesses as a first step out of poverty since being created in 1983, has been caught in a bitter political battle in his homeland of Bangladesh.

      The campaign to remove Yunus, mounted mainly by politicians, is to intensify this week ahead of a key board meeting next Monday, which his supporters believe will involve an attempt to force the 70-year-old to quit as managing director.

    • Oil prices surge 7% on Libya unrest

      Oil prices jumped 7% Tuesday, spiking as high as $98 a barrel, as the crisis in Libya sparked concern that the turmoil roiling the Middle East could spread to other producing countries — including Saudi Arabia.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • Time to mobilize against a governmental takeover of DNS

      For better or worse, my first post here is going to be a rather urgent call to action. I’d like to encourage everyone who reads this blog to register their support for this petition. Entitled, “Say no to the GAC veto,” it expresses opposition to a shocking and dangerous turn in U.S. policy toward the global domain name system. It is a change that would reverse more than a decade of commitment to a transnational, bottom-up, civil society-led approach to governance of Internet identifiers, in favor of a top-down policy making regime dominated by national governments.

      If the U.S. Commerce Department has its way, not only would national governments call the shots regarding what new domains could exist and what ideas and words they could and could not use, but they would be empowered to do so without any constraint or guidance from law, treaties or constitutions. Our own U.S. Commerce Department wants to let any government in the world censor a top level domain proposal “for any reason.” A government or two could object simply because they don’t like the person behind it, the ideas it espouses or they are offended by the name, and make these objections fatal. This kind of direct state control over content-related matters sets an ominous precedent for the future of Internet governance.

    • How the atom bomb helped give birth to the Internet

      The 1950s were a time of high tension. The US and Soviet Union prepared themselves for a nuclear war in which casualties would be counted not in millions but in the hundreds of millions. As the decade began, President Truman’s strategic advisors recommended that the US embark on a massive rearmament to face off the Communist threat.

    • Internet ‘kill switch’ is dead, but bill calls for cybersecurity plan

      The day after Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down, I was at a Starbucks in Long Beach, Calif., reading The New York Times while waiting for my Americano. A woman came up to me and mentioned how amazing it was that the protesters had used Twitter and Facebook so much that they brought down Egypt’s Internet infrastructure.

      “Um, not exactly,” I said. In fact, it was the other way around: Mubarak ordered the country’s Internet service providers to shut down Web access, hoping to thwart social communication among the marching mob.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Stronger IP Rights In EU-Korea FTA: Precedent For Future FTAs?

      A European Parliament majority this week approved a free trade agreement with Korea with strong provisions on intellectual property rights protection, according to Robert Stury, rapporteur of the lead EP Committee on the dossier.

      The FTA, linked here, and welcomed by the conservative, socialist and liberal parties, carries expectations of creating new trade in goods and services worth €19.1 billion for the EU and save EU exporters €1.6 billion a year. It is the first of a series of FTAs passed under the Lisbon Treaty with additional scrutiny from the EU Parliament.

    • Tolkien Estate In Legal Spat With Author Of Historical Fiction; Will Publicity Rights Kill Off Historical Fiction?

      And here we go with another really dumb publicity rights case, that may result in yet another book burning in the US. This one involves the notoriously overprotective estate of JRR Tolkien, the famed Lord of the Rings author. An author by the name of Stephen Hilliard has written a bit of historical fiction, that includes a bunch of historical characters and a fictionalized version of Tolkien. The book is supposed to be a historical novel and a form of literary criticism of Tolkien — though I would imagine it’s partly called that in order to aid with any potential “fair use” claims.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Gets Involved in BitTorrent Search Engine Lawsuit

        Over the past several years many BitTorrent search engines have claimed in court that they’re “just like Google”, another search engine that allows users to find information scattered around the web. All this time Google itself remained silent on the issue, until now. The search giant has involved itself in the MPAA vs. isoHunt case recently, but not completely to the delight of isoHunt’s owner.

      • ICE Finally Admits It Totally Screwed Up; Next Time, Perhaps It’ll Try Due Process

        While the folks at Homeland Security refused to even admit that they had totally screwed up and seized a domain with 84,000 (mostly legal) websites last week, apparently someone at Homeland Security finally realized that the press wasn’t going to keep accepting them refusing to answer questions about it. So, it’s finally come clean and admitted they seized all of mooo.com, despite the vast majority of it being legal.

      • BREIN Uses Court Win As Leverage To Wipe Out Usenet Sites

        Following their recent legal victory over Usenet portal FTD, anti-piracy group BREIN have been using this momentum to scare even more file-sharing related sites into submission. The Hollywood-linked outfit has just announced that it has forced the closure of a further 11 Usenet-related sites servicing 900,000 members although reports suggest the damage could be even deeper. The question is, however, were they even illegal?

      • There Will Never Be A Shortage Of “Content”

        Lawyers who advocate maximization of the copyright monopoly can sometimes be heard complaining that if the monopoly is abolished or weakened, there will be no culture or knowledge to fill our precious gadgets with. Derogatorily, they call this culture and knowledge “content”.

        Claiming that there will be a shortage of culture if the copyright monopoly is weakened is so definite a state of denial, going way beyond a dimension of mere faith, that it probably deserves its own psychological diagnosis.

        People create more than ever. All of us create so much culture and knowledge — text, music, images, video — that there is more created now than at any time in history. And this doesn’t happen because of the copyright monopoly; it happens despite the copyright monopoly. The growth is not in the previous elite; it is with everybody else.

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