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02.25.11

Links 25/2/2011: GNOME 3 Beta 1, Fedora 16 to Ship With BTRFS

Posted in News Roundup at 7:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Ubuntu is the 4th Most Popular Linux Distribution on Web Servers, Continues to Grow Faster

      Ubuntu has been the most popular Linux distribution on desktop systems for sometime now and according to Google Trends data, Ubuntu probably is the first ever Linux distro to overshoot popularity of Linux itself. And now, Ubuntu is steadily increasing its market share on web servers as well. According to w3techs.com statistics, Ubuntu is now the 4th most popular Linux distro on web servers and growing at a much faster rate than its competitors.

    • SGI lays off 4 per cent of workforce

      Supercomputer maker Silicon Graphics tightened its financial belt yesterday, announcing that it was laying off employees to make its fiscal 2011 numbers.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 3 Episode 4

      Title: Qt, or not Qt?

      In this episode: Microsoft and Nokia form an alliance and the GPLv3 might not be welcome on Windows Phone. Canonical gets controversial with Banshee while openSUSE and Fedora users might have to wait for Unity. Hear our discoveries, our limited success with the challenge, and your own opinions in our Open Ballot.

  • Kernel Space

    • Lomoco Is Still Around For Logitech Mice On Linux

      While we haven’t talked about Lomoco in a few years nor has there been a new release of this free software project for Logitech Mouse Control under Linux in a while, Lomoco is still being developed. Andreas Schneider is still working on Linux support for the latest Logitech mice via Lomoco.

  • Applications

    • TorChat, anonymous and secure messaging and file transfers

      Using the Tor network of virtual tunnels, TorChat is a small, portable and open-source IM client that allows for completely anonymous and secure communications and file sharing. It works on both Windows and Linux.

    • Proprietary

      • Barracuda gets some teeth

        Today we will ship the first of many changes for Speed Dial that is targeted for the upcoming Barracuda release. It will however be delivered in separate pieces before you will see the entire puzzle laid out.

        Opera’s Speed Dial was first introduced in an Opera 9.20 snapshot on Feb 28th 2007. The idea came about as we observed that people kept typing the same addresses for a few of their favourite websites again and again. Getting to their top web sites could mean hundreds or thousands of clicks on the keyboard in a single day. The solution we came up with was very simple, but very powerful. And today it’s still one of the most loved, and copied, features in Opera.

    • Games

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome Shell 2.91.90 Released – Screenshots And Video

        Here is a video I’ve recorded with the latest Gnome Shell 2.91.90 – not the best quality but as usual, the Shell recorder doesn’t play very nice with my Nvidia graphics card…

      • GNOME 3 Beta 1 (2.91.90) released!

        One more important step towards the great GNOME 3 release! It’s pretty clear that things are getting much more stable release-wise. Thanks everyone! This release has got a quite a lot of updates including bugs fixes and user-visible improvements in GNOME Shell. The Network Manager bits are going through a lot of changes for the 0.9 release.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Zorin OS 4 Review

        Recently I have reviewed a number of interesting Ubuntu derivatives. Linux Mint is probably the most popular one, but other more obscure picks like MoonOS and PinguyOS also proved to be very interesting options. In future articles I also plan to review Bodhi Linux, but this time I want to talk about Zorin 4 OS, which is based off of Ubuntu 10.10.

        [...]

        I would recommend Zorin to any kind of Linux user, but specially for those who are taking their first steps in the Penguin Universe.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 6 Has A Few Rough Spots: Review

        Debian’s kFreeBSD flavour works around these licensing issues by marrying the GNU C library and userland with the kernel from FreeBSD 8. As a result, this version of Debian inherits the kernel features and hardware support of FreeBSD, while maintaining compatibility with most of the Debian software package catalogue.

        [...]

        I was pleased to note that some of the software management tools I’m accustomed to using in Ubuntu (which is a Debian derivative) have made it back upstream.

      • 7 mistakes to avoid when participating to Debian mailing lists

        You’re eager to start contributing to Debian, your first action is to subscribe to some high-profile mailing lists (like debian-devel and debian-project) to get a feel of the community. You read the mails for a few days and then you find out that you could participate to the discussions, it’s a simple first step after all. True enough.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu Inspiration
        • Version number suggests Ubuntu changes
        • Ubuntu Compromises on Banshee Revenue Recipients

          Canonical and Ubuntu encountered quite a bit of resistance from its community recently when it changed the default Banshee profit sharing recipient. By default, in Banshee The GNOME Foundation was to receive a portion of revenue from music sales through the AmazonMP3 store. But in a recent Ubuntu 11.04 snapshot, users noticed that recipient was changed to Canonical. After a bit of an uprising from users and Banshee developers, Jono Bacon today announced a compromise.

        • Ubuntu Linux for beginners: Tips for getting started

          Maybe it was one piece of malware too many, maybe it was realizing that while Windows 7 doesn’t look like XP, there really wasn’t that much better about it, in any case the day had come when you decided to give Ubuntu Linux a try. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of your new experiment in operating systems.

        • It’s time — apply NOW! UDS -O

          What’s the worst that can happen, after all? Canonical can say no, and then you’ll have to attend remotely. But what if the best happens, and they say YES? They told me yes, and flew me to Florida! The travel agents arranged to have me fly in early, so I could spend some time with my long-time friend who lives north of Orlando. (This time, the city is Budapest!)

        • Thinking About Ubuntu Developer Summit Attendance and Sponsorship?
        • Unity 2d’s new design in motion [Video]

          Unity 2D – the Qt implementation of Ubuntu’s Unity interface that doesn’t require 3D graphic drivers, etc. – is advancing apace.

        • New Unity 2D Design On The Way (Video)

          The changes you can see in the above video are not yet available in the Unity 2D PPA, but expect it to land soon.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

            Over the years, I’ve seen more Linux distributions than anyone this side of the Distrowatch editors. Some end-up staying in my offices. For example, I use openSUSE and CentOS on my servers, and I’ve often used Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, and MEPIS on my desktops and laptops. I’m also constantly looking at new Linux distributions, such as SplashTop and Peppermint on my test boxes or a VirtualBox virtual machine. Now, though, I find myself using Mint 10 as my main Linux desktop.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • MeeGo / Qt – Alive and Kicking

          During the last week in MWC Barcelona I had countless meetings, and even larger number of phone calls after that, always starting with an equally blunt question: “what is happening, is MeeGo dead now?” After “buckets of cold water”, and the following chaos, the dust seems to be settled now. Follow MeeGoers are getting themselves reorganized. Personally I got an excellent excuse and decided to start this blog to shed some light for the current development, and to do my duty for the community and the business.

      • Android

        • WebM/VP8 support appears in Android 2.3.3

          Google’s recently announced Android 2.3.3, “Gingerbread”, is according to Google, now starting to be delivered OTA (Over The Air) to Nexus S and Nexus One smartphones. It appears that 2.3.3, as well as adding support for NFC (Near Field Communications) as found in the Nexus S, has also added WebM support. The details of the WebM support are on the Android Media Formats page where a new entry for the VP8 codec, as used by the WebM container format, has been added with the note “Android 2.3.3+”.

        • AT&T: HTC Aria getting Android 2.2 (Froyo) tomorrow

          AT&T has informed its friends that an Android 2.2 (Froyo) update for HTC’s mid-level Aria handset will be ready for public consumption beginning tomorrow. Ma’ Bell is asking eager Aria owners to hit up the company’s Facebook page tomorrow for download instructions.

        • “The Daily” coming to Android this Spring. Does anyone care?
        • Asus Brings Five Android Devices To China In Bid For Billions Of New Customers

          On Thursday afternoon in Beijing, Asus plans to announce a wide-ranging partnership with China Mobile that will make four Asus smartphones and one tablet available to the carrier’s millions of customers.

          The deal is the cornerstone of Asus’ newest strategy to boost its mobile devices business. Though Asus is widely known for its computer parts, laptops and netbooks, it remains a bit player in the global cellphone and smartphone markets.

        • Impressive video visualizes Android activations from October 2008 to January 2011

          I don’t think any technology enthusiast is unaware of Android’s rapid growth — there are a staggering 350 000 Android devices activated every day and even fans of other mobile platforms must have noticed that Google’s OS is everywhere now.

          Although Android’s rise in popularity was expected, the open-source platform was once the underdog and fans only had a small number of devices to choose from. Initially, there was of course just one single Android phone: the HTC Dream (G1).

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Splashtop Linux: A Free Chrome OS Alternative

        Web surfers tired of waiting for the official release of hardware featuring Google’s Chrome OS now have a browser-based alternative right at their fingertips: Splashtop Linux 1.0, a downloadable instant-on operating system tailored to life in the cloud.

Free Software/Open Source

  • The economics of a (software) cartel

    Early on it becomes fairly clear the article is written with an agenda:

    How, if at all, should governments use [open source software (OSS)]? One important theoretical insight starts from the observation that [OSS is] …imperfect [and] has distinct areas of advantage and disadvantage (von Engelhardt 2008). This implies that large modern economies will usually require a mix of both [OSS and closed source software (CSS)].

    The article goes on:

    [Engelhardt and Maurer] point out that the existence of CSS code increases OSS output and vice versa. To see why, consider an all-OSS world in which each company offers consumers exactly the same shared code as every other company. By definition no company can then compete by writing more OSS code than its rivals. This lack of competition suppresses code production for the same reason that cartels suppress output.

    From this point the argument is reasonably constructed and more or less appropriate in its conclusions. But this premise, that a pure open source world would (a) result in less code production and the implication (b) that that would inherently be “a bad thing” is totally unfounded.

    So, as it is a very good place to start, I’ll start at the beginning; with the definition of the economic concept referred to, a cartel.

    A cartel in economic theory is generally seen to occur at a particular point in a range of market types. This range stretches from perfect competition to monopoly. A monopoly market is the condition which the game of the same name defines as victory, that is the absence of competition. Perfect competition at the other end of the scale is a market where all parties know all things about the goods sold in the market (known as perfect knowledge) and it is easy to set up in business. As is clear in the terminology used, perfect competition is seen to be good and monopolies bad.

    Economists see a sliding scale between monopoly and perfect competition, and degrees along the way. It is generally accepted that a near or effective monopoly is as bad as a monopoly; a near monopoly can be seen to exist in a market where a single company controls more than two thirds of that market. Below a monopoly in economic badness lies an oligopoly, where a small number of large companies control the majority of a market. It is at this point in the scale that cartels are seen to form. A cartel is where a number of firms in the oligopoly get together and conspire to fix pricing, using their power to inhibit competition, to create an effective monopoly.

  • The Ada Initiative Announces Advisory Board

    More information about the advisors can be found in the press release and on the advisors web page. “The advisory board will work closely with the Ada Initiative founders in planning and executing their projects.”

  • The role of Open Source and Free software in today’s world, excellences, issues and frontiers to cross: an expert talk with Roberto Galoppini

    Unless you are going for the obvious names (Apache, Linux, etc) – for which you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that are sustainable projects – it is worth to have a method to create a short list of candidates on which to perform all functional and performance tests. In fact verification and validation tests require a significant amount time and resources to be run, that is why a method to limit the number of candidates maybe of great help.

    SOS Open Source is just an automated methodology to find and evaluate open source software, collecting information from the net and code analysis tools, correlating and aggregating it all in graphs for easy comparisons.

  • Apache opens Chemistry content management tool kit

    In an effort to make content management systems work more harmoniously with one another, the Apache Software Foundation has promoted its Apache Chemistry interoperability toolkit to a top level project.

    Chemistry is an open source implementation of the CMIS (Content Management Interoperability Services) standard, developed by OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards). CMIS provides a set of bindings for accessing data across multiple CMIS-compliant systems, without the need to understand the specific interface for each system.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • First attempt to have proper ad blocking in Chrome

        The current development build (Adblock Plus for Google Chrome 1.0.26.622) removes the restriction that only some filters will really block downloads. It should block everything that the previous version was blocking and some more. So if you notice something that is no longer being blocked (as well as other issues of course), please report it with a comment here or in the forum.

      • Chromium: Why it isn’t in Fedora yet as a proper package

        People keep asking me about chromium (the generic name for Google Chrome), specifically, when it will be part of Fedora proper. Why do they ask me this? Well, because I’ve been packaging built-from-source-against-Fedora RPM packages here: http://spot.fedorapeople.org/chromium/

    • Mozilla

      • Poll: How would you use Firefox Add-on Sync?
      • Correction regarding opting out of add-on metadata pings

        Two weeks ago we posted about add-on metadata pings in Firefox 4 and included information on how to opt out of them. Shortly afterwards, a bug was discovered that caused the opt out process to not work properly.

      • How to support 400 million users with 4 people

        At Mozilla we have around 400 million Firefox users by now, that means that offering traditional support to them is completely impossible, especially since the support team has only 5 employees. But we still want happy users, and the only way that works is when users help other users. So, after evaluating the situation, we spent most of last year designing the best possible tools for our community. Because we are facing the same challenges most free software projects will face, I wanted to share our assessment and our solutions with the broader free software community, and since I needed a catchy title, it’s called “How to support 400 Million users with 4 employees.”

      • Firefox 4.0 beta 5 released

        The latest build of Mozilla Firefox 4 Beta 5 for Android and Maemo has been released and is available for download for the N900 here. This release was focused on continuing to improve stability and performance.

  • SaaS

    • What’s the problem with Twitter?

      Every day, we suspend hundreds of applications that are in violation of our policies.
      (Carolyn Penner on support.twitter.com, 18.02.11)

      Twitter reputes to act as the Boss and pinches off third party clients again, telling that it’s no isolated case.

      [...]

      The most progressive idea in my opinion was delivered by Eben Moglen last week: Promoting the establishment of decentralized networks and making efforts to develop so-called Freedom Boxes with the newly formed FreedomboxFoundation. And apparently they touch a nerve: Where else would come NYTimes’ interest from? Or the huge number of $60,000 of donations in just 5 days?

  • CMS

    • Angela Byron on Drupal 7

      AB: I’ve been interested in free software ever since I first heard the term back in 1995, back when I completed my first successful Linux installation—this was back when Debian fit on 7 floppy disks. ;) I was both intrigued and excited by the profound humanitarian implications of the free software movement. Better-than-commercial-quality software, available to be tinkered with and expanded upon by anyone with an interest and drive to learn, given away at no cost to everyone, including non-profits and educational institutions. I became a fierce advocate of open source alternatives among my family and friends, and I was totally “that person” in school who would demand that in addition to teaching us ASP and Oracle, we needed to also learn PHP and MySQL.

  • Healthcare

    • Monopoly on pesticide test data set to be extended to 5 years

      The government has proposed an increase in the monopoly period enjoyed by pesticide manufacturers over test data , used to support claims for the efficacy of their products, to five years. The proposals form part of amendments to the pesticides bill, which were circulated to MPs last week. The amendment may prove controversial given that similar provisions, with respect to pharmaceuticals have been opposed by India in its negotiations with the European Union.

  • Project Releases

  • Government

    • UK Government defines open standards as royalty free

      Mark Taylor, CEO of Sirius IT, a UK open source integrator, who has previously led calls for more open source and free software use by government, told The H that the “Cabinet Office’s new Policy statement is simply the best of any European Government to date, and a great step forward in levelling the playing field for Open Source software”.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Creative Commons sponsors WikiSym 2011

      We are thrilled to announce our involvement in the 7th annual WikiSym, International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration. WikiSym explores the impact of wikis, open resources, and open technologies across all sectors of society, including education, law, journalism, art, science, publishing, business, and entertainment.

      WikiSym 2011 will be held in Mountain View, California on October 3-5. You don’t want to miss this conference. WikiSym draws an international group of leading thinkers from industry, non-profits and academia. Last year’s WikiSym 2010 in Poland was packed with exciting people and ideas. WikiSym 2011 is gearing up to be the best gathering on open collaboration ever held.

    • Open Data

      • The Privatization Of Public Data Sets A Bad Precedent

        Last summer we wrote about a troubling lawsuit filed by a company called Public Engines against a competitor called Report See. Each company runs their own open website that reports crime data. Public Engines runs CrimeReports.com. Report See runs SpotCrime.com. They have very different business models, however. CrimeReports is ad free. It makes its money because Public Engines signs expensive deals with local police departments around the country to take their crime data and format it for better use. SpotCrime, on the other hand, whose business model is based on advertising, collects whatever data it can from public sources, including police departments who publish the data, newspaper crime reports… and, at one point, the data it found on CrimeReports.com.

    • Open Hardware

      • DARPA Open-Sources Military Vehicle Design
      • Amazing MeeBlip Users, Making MeeBlips, Playing MeeBlips, and Other News From Our $140 Synth

        We introduced the MeeBlip, an open source, hackable synthesizer, back in early November. Designed by James Grahame of Reflex Audio (and blog Retro Thing) and co-produced with CDM, we placed the hardware and software of the MeeBlip under an open source hardware license, and it was something of an experiment for us. Affordability was paramount – you can get everything you need for $140 US; less if you’re willing to do a little DIY work. Now, the MeeBlip has made its way out into the world and into hands other than just our own, and we’re thrilled to see what people are doing with it.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Technologies for Mobile Web Applications

      I often get the chance of talking with developers, reporters and analysts about what technologies W3C is developing that are relevant for the ongoing debate on the role of the Web in mobile applications.

      While I have mostly a clear idea on the topic, there wasn’t a complete enough reference that I knew of on the topic, and that knowledge has been spread across various Working Group home pages, slidesets, specifications, etc.

    • Do Not Track at W3C

      Over the last year, W3C has ramped up its activities in the privacy space: Within the context of the PrimeLife project, we’ve looked at privacy considerations for device APIs, at policy languages, and we’ve taken a look at the broader Web and Internet privacy picture together with the Internet Society, the Internet Architecture Board, and some colleagues from MIT. As part of our strategic planning exercise, we have committed to further increase our focus on the topic.

Leftovers

  • The battle of the US-Mexico frontier

    Charlie Bruce was a Texas police chief of the old school. In more than four decades on the force he gave homegrown criminals good reason to steer clear of Del Rio, his small town on the United States’s southern border, but held no grudge against the steady flow of Mexicans across the frontier in search of opportunity. He admired them for their hard work and the chances they took to better themselves. Besides, some of them built his house.

  • Is it ethical to automate business?

    From an economic point of view, software often automates business processes that were formerly done manually. For example, contrast the human effort involved in accounting before and after spreadsheets. Of course the reduction in human labor has not been restricted to accounting. For example, enterprise resource planning software has facilitated detailed procurement based on actual customer demand, with full modeling of suppliers, plants, warehouses, work centers & cost centers. This degree of automation was not possible prior to ubiquitous computer networking. Technology makes it possible to do the same amount of work with fewer people.

  • Maybe Super Cheap Video Games Are Helping, Not Destroying, The Video Game Industry

    One of the early economics lessons you learn in any competent intro econ class is the concept of elasticity. The basic concept is how much does demand increase for a product if you lower the price. If a product is highly elastic, decreasing the price can often earn you more money. A simplified version of this: I have a widget that I want to sell for $100 dollars, but only one person is willing to pay that price. With that pricing, I’d make $100 (gross) on the widget. However, if I were to drop the price to $1, let’s say 1,000 people are willing to buy at that price. Then, I’d make $1,000 (gross) on the widget. So, even though producers often fear lowering the price, if there’s strong elasticity, lowering the price can often make you much more money (and, yes, the marginal cost matters here as well).

  • Case Study: How TED Learned That ‘Giving It Away’ Increased Both Popularity And Revenue

    The amazingly exclusive conference used to be excessively secretive as well. Attendees, who paid thousands for the privilege (and who could only attend if they were “invited”), had to sign non-disclosure agreements, and no one was supposed to publicly discuss or show what the TED speakers talked about. If you think about this from a classical “scarcities-only” economics viewpoint, you can see why people would think this was smart. After all, that content is valuable, so the natural desire is to hoard it, with the classical thinking being that by hoarding it and putting up an artificial scarcity around the content, you make it more valuable.

  • Old Media Is Being Unbundled, Just Like Telecom Was

    One of the biggest stories of my career — as someone who covered telecom industry — happened fifteen years ago: The 1996 Telecom Act was the start of the liberalization of an industry that had been vertical with very little competition. What followed was an amazing transformation of the staid calling industry — not necessarily for the better.

    One of the basic tenets of the 1996 Telecom Act was unbundled access to the telecom facilities of the local phone companies, which meant competing phone companies could access the so-called “last-mile” that led to people’s homes over the incumbent carrier’s network. The change in law created an insane amount of competition, and turned the economics of the business on its head. It led to kamikaze-style pricing of phone minutes. Voice had been the primary source of revenue for phone companies for nearly a century.

  • UK Government roundtable on online future

    Culture Ministers have met with key players from the music and creative industries yesterday to discuss ways to develop new online services.

    Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt and Communications and Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey held the roundtable with internet service providers such as BT, Talk Talk and BSkyB alongside representatives from UK Music, PRS for Music, AIM, BPI, Universal, Warner Music, Sony and Beggars Group.

  • I’m still in charge, says David Cameron on Gulf trip

    David Cameron has insisted that he remains “in charge” despite his absence from Britain after his deputy Nick Clegg said he “forgot” that he was running the country.

    Speaking in Oman on the final leg of his tour of the Middle East, the prime minister stressed: “Just because I leave the country doesn’t mean I am not in charge.”

    He was pressed on comments made by the Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister to the Metro newspaper in which Nick Clegg said he was looking forward to holidaying with his children at the end of the week and someone else would have to take over from him.

  • Study Finds the Internet Makes Youth More Engaged Citizens

    Arguably, the upheaval, activism and revolutions in of the last two months may serve to counter what has been a longstanding stereotype: youth are largely apolitical. Moreover, those that do participate in politics and activism online do so in shallow ways, the so-called “slacktivism.” But recent findings from a longitudinal study of high school-age students challenges these notions, suggesting that youth who pursue their interests online are more likely to be engaged in civic issues.

  • Google Launches Smart Recipe Search Tools
  • Science

    • Discovery set to blast off one last time

      NASA’s most travelled space shuttle, Discovery, was fuelled Thursday for its final voyage after nearly three decades of service.

      NASA finished pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel into Discovery at midmorning, as the six astronauts assigned to the space station delivery mission got ready at crew quarters for the late afternoon liftoff. It was their second stab at this. November’s launch attempt never made it this far.

    • Exciting New Research on Topological Insulators

      Topological insulators have become one of the hottest topics in physics. These new materials act as both insulators and conductors, with their interior preventing the flow of electrical currents while their edges or surfaces allow the movement of a charge.

  • Hardware

    • Intel’s Thunderbolt to Strike at Media Transfer

      Intel’s Thunderbolt connection technology, announced Thursday, will help consumers with one of their biggest digital problems: transferring huge media files in minutes as opposed to hours. It will also give Intel chips a home inside a variety of connected devices. For consumers, it means transferring an entire iTunes library won’t take all night (instead it would take a few minutes), and backups are a speedy dream.

    • Inside Google Native Client for x86 binaries

      Last week, Google announced a new version of its SDK for Native Client (aka NaCl, in a riff on the chemical formula for salt). For those who don’t recall, NaCl is the technology I once called “Google’s craziest idea yet.” In a nutshell, it allows developers to deliver code modules for Web applications in the form of native x86 binaries that execute on the user’s bare CPU — no interpreter, no virtual machine, no nothing.

      I called the idea crazy, but it’s really crazy clever. As Native Client continues to evolve, I thought it was high time I checked under the hood to see how this nutball idea actually worked in practice. To that end, I downloaded the new SDK, fired up my toolkit, and put a few of Google’s demo NaCl applications through their paces.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Dying Ont. baby’s transfer to Detroit denied

      A Windsor, Ont., family’s mission to bring their terminally ill baby home to die has suffered another blow after a Detroit hospital refused to accept him for a tracheotomy.

      The parents of Joseph Maraachli, a 13-month-old with a fatal neurological disorder, had hoped to be able to transfer their ailing son to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

    • Cellphone Use Tied to Changes in Brain Activity

      Researchers from the National Institutes of Health have found that less than an hour of cellphone use can speed up brain activity in the area closest to the phone antenna, raising new questions about the health effects of low levels of radiation emitted from cellphones.

      The researchers, led by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, urged caution in interpreting the findings because it is not known whether the changes, which were seen in brain scans, have any meaningful effect on a person’s overall health.

    • Spy in the tuckshop at kids’ lunches

      CASHLESS canteens are the new weapon against obesity, letting parents spy on their children’s lunches online.

      The swipe-card technology also allows parents to block their kids from buying junk food.

      At Kardinia International College in Geelong, Victoria, students can buy items at the canteen only with an electronic card.

    • How the British fell out of love with drugs

      “A lot of young people who have used the stronger stuff simply don’t like it,” Barnes suggests. “That could be having an impact . . . What we also have seen, and it could be linked to the overall decline in illicit drug use, is fewer young people smoking . . . We do know that, for young people in particular, if they smoke or drink they are much more likely also to be using illegal drugs. Tobacco is probably the main ‘gateway drug’.”

      This sounds logical. The act of smoking takes a bit of getting used to; if young people are not practising on cigarettes, they are probably less likely to try joints. The fading fashion for cigarettes, in other words, might be dragging cannabis down with it. But then one never knows when an ageing fashion might perk up again.

    • Clayton Christensen: The Survivor

      Clayton Christensen beat a heart attack, advanced-stage cancer and a stroke in three years. Here’s what he learned about life, death and fixing the health care system.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Libya after Gadhafi

      With revolution spreading throughout Libya, chances are increasing that Moammar Gadhafi will release the brutal stranglehold he’s had on the country for over 40 years.

      “He will fall; it’s not if; it’s when,” said Jens Hanssen, an assistant professor of Middle East history at the University of Toronto. “I give him days rather than weeks.”

    • Gadhafi blames al-Qaeda for Libyan riots

      Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi blamed international terrorism and al-Qaeda for brainwashing youth and spurring the turmoil in his country.

      “What is happening now is not the people’s power. It is international terrorism led by al-Qaeda,” Gadhafi said in a rambling 30-minute phone call broadcast live on state television Thursday.

    • Report: Libya air force bombs protesters heading for army base

      Libyan military aircraft fired live ammunition at crowds of anti-government protesters in Tripoli, Al Jazeera television reported on Monday, quoting witnesses for its information.

    • BREAKING: Soldiers in Derna massacred for not firing at Libyans (GRAPHIC)
    • Mercenaries Captured in Libya With Passports [VIDEO]
    • Breaking Images: Oppostion to Muammar Gaddafi’s regime with a tank in Misrata (Feb. 23)
    • Libya unrest: David Cameron apology for UK response

      Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is “incredibly sorry” for the government’s handling of the evacuation of British nationals from Libya.

    • Libya: Gaddafi’s billions to be seized by Britain

      The funds are expected to be seized within days. The Treasury is understood to have set up a unit to trace Col Gaddafi’s assets in Britain, which are thought to include billions of dollars in bank accounts, commercial property and a £10 million mansion in London.

      In total, the Libyan regime is said to have around £20 billion in liquid assets, mostly in London. These are expected to be frozen as part of an international effort to force the dictator from power. A Whitehall source said: “The first priority is to get British nationals out of Libya. But then we are ready to move in on Gaddafi’s assets, the work is under way. This is definitely on the radar at the highest levels.”

    • Libya on the brink as Gaddafi promises showdown – live updates

      5.06pm: The Maltese ministry of foreign affairs is denying Gaddafi’s daughter was on board the Libyan plane that was turned away (see 4.51pm).

    • Global community isolates Gaddafi

      International condemnation of the violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Libya has escalated, with the European Union pushing for a UN-led probe into human rights abuses and preparing for possible sanctions against the African nation.

      A draft proposal by the 27-nation bloc on Wednesday spoke out against “extremely grave human rights violations committed in Libya, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of peaceful demonstrators,” and said they could “amount to crimes against humanity”.

    • Foreign Mercenaries in the Middle East: A Brief History

      Though difficult to substantiate in the current chaos, reports from eastern Libya, in particular from the city of Benghazi, claim that snipers and militiamen from sub-Saharan Africa gunned down residents on the streets. The Dubai-based al-Arabiya network says some of the guerrillas were Francophone mercenaries recruited by one of the sons of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Qatar-based al-Jazeera detailed pamphlets circulated to mercenary recruits from Guinea and Nigeria, offering them $2,000 per day to crack down on the Libyan uprising. And, as further reports of defections from the Libyan military filter in, the cornered Gaddafi regime may turn more and more to hired guns from abroad. On television channels and Twitter, frantic rumors circulated about Gaddafi preparing for a mercenary-backed counteroffensive against his opponents. (See pictures of the rise of Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi.)

    • Bahrainis protest peacefully in capital

      Tens of thousands of protesters waving red-and-white Bahraini flags flooded the central district of the capital Tuesday in the largest demonstration since a Shiite-led campaign against the government began eight days ago.

      People packed Pearl Square, the heart of the protests, as the country’s Shiite majority continued to press for concessions from the Sunni monarchy. But the day brought little political resolution.

    • Iraqis prepare for ‘Day of Wrath’ as protests turn violent

      Encouraged by the events in the neighboring Arab countries, Iraqis are gathering in central Baghdad preparing for their ‘Day of wrath’ on Friday. They’re fed up with corruption and want better living conditions.

    • The UN is ripe for advancing the Palestinian agenda

      The most important and, from Israel’s standpoint, alarming change is this: In the one UN body that has the authority to forcibly enforce resolutions, a new alignment of forces is rapidly taking shape, and a new distribution of influence is emerging between the United States and the other four members of the exclusive club of states with permanent membership and veto power.

    • Ivory Coast protesters killed calling for Laurent Gbagbo to step down

      Ivorian troops have killed at least six protesters who were calling on Laurent Gbagbo to step down as leader, witnesses say, as African presidents charged with resolving Ivory Coast’s crisis arrived in Abidjan.

      A dispute over the presidential election in November paralysed the country and led to the deaths of about 300 people.

    • Soldiers jailed for mass rape as Congo finally acts on abuse

      In a landmark case human rights activists hope will reduce a culture of impunity for sex crimes in the beleaguered central African country, a military court has convicted a lieutenant colonel in the Congolese army to 20 years’ imprisonment for mass rapes committed on New Year’s Day.

      Alongside Lieutenant Colonel Kibibi Mutware, a former rebel absorbed into government forces, three other officers received 20-year sentences. Another five soldiers received between 10 and 15 years.

    • U.S. Resumes Deportations to Haiti—One Deportee Dies

      They tell us is it’s all about public safety, keeping the American public safe.

      What they told us at the time [that they announced the new policy] was they were going to be deporting the worst of the worst criminal offenders—axe murderers, rapists, that kind of thing. We subsequently learned that anybody who is labeled a criminal— and in Florida, for example, if you’re driving with an expired driver’s license for four months, you’ve committed a crime—that even individuals like that could be subject to removal under this new policy. So obviously, we were very concerned.

    • When Will George W. Bush be Tried for His War Crimes?

      We should take a small measure of satisfaction in former President George W. Bush’s cancellation of his trip to Switzerland after human-rights groups threatened to bring legal action against him for authorizing torture. Persons detained by the U.S. government after 9/11 were subjected to what the Bush administration euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation,” including waterboarding. In reality those methods constituted torture, violating U.S. law and international agreements.

    • What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

      A strange thought occurred to me connecting two subjects I’ve never connected in my mind before, US Military recruiters and chuggers (charity muggers). Both home in on people they deem fits their criteria like limpet mines, bombard them with emotional (and patriotic in the case of the US military) blackmail and propaganda, then sign them up for a future commitment. The major difference is that when chuggers do it, it’s not life or limb threatening.

    • Syria clamps down on dissent with beatings and arrests

      Tensions are mounting in the Syrian capital, Damascus, after the third peaceful demonstration in three weeks was violently dispersed on Wednesday. There are increasing reports of intimidation and blocking of communications by secret services in the wake of violent unrest in neighbouring Arab countries.

      Fourteen people were arrested and several people beaten by uniformed and plainclothes police on Tuesday after about 200 staged a peaceful sit-in outside the Libyan embassy to show support for Libya’s protesters.

    • Zimbabwe charges 46 with treason for watching videos of Egypt protests

      Forty-six people in Zimbabwe have been charged with treason, and some allegedly beaten by police, after watching videos of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia

      The activists, trade unionists and students were at a meeting on Saturday titled Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia: What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and Africa?, when it was raided by police who seized a video projector, two DVDs and a laptop.

  • Cablegate

    • EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Wikileaks, Assange, And Why There’s No Turning Back

      Back in the fall of 2009, getting hold of Julian Assange wasn’t easy. The Australian founder of WikiLeaks seemed to be constantly on the move, and his email habits were unpredictable. My colleague Andrew Rasiej and I had invited him to speak at the inaugural European gathering of our Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) conference in Barcelona that November. “Micah, great!” he wrote in late October, accepting the invitation. “Currently in Laos. Denmark 18th Nov-ish. Iceland not long after. Can you send me all necessary details?”

      I wrote back right away, but a series of follow-up emails to his Sunshinepress.org account failed to get a response. The conference was just a few weeks away and we weren’t sure if one of our keynote speakers was really coming. In desperation, I went online to the WikiLeaks.org website and clicked on “live chat.” Within moments another screen opened, and I was given an anonymous user account name. I typed hello, and someone responded, telling me his name was “Daniel.” I started to explain who I was, and Daniel suggested opening a private one-on-one chat to continue the conversation. No, Julian wasn’t available right now, he told me, but he promised to relay my messages to him.

    • Where does Julian Assange go from here?

      The appeal can be on a question of law, or of fact: in other words, Julian Assange can raise legal arguments that the judge got the law wrong, or he can simply say the judge made a factual mistake – about why he ended up not being interviewed further in Sweden for instance. So it can be a wide-ranging appeal.

    • The judicial authority in Sweden -v- Julian Paul Assange
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Oil hits $103 US before retreating

      Oil prices continued their roller-coaster ride Thursday, with the North American benchmark passing above $103 US a barrel before retreating to trade lower.

      April light sweet crude rose as much as 5.4 per cent to $103.41 a barrel in electronic trading overnight, before trading at $97.15 US, down 95 cents at mid-afternoon in New York as turmoil in Libya continued.

    • Can geoengineering put the freeze on global warming?

      Scientists call it “geoengineering,” but in plain speak, it means things like this: blasting tons of sulfate particles into the sky to reflect sunlight away from Earth; filling the ocean with iron filings to grow plankton that will suck up carbon; even dimming sunlight with space shades.

    • Rwanda makes saving its forests a national priority

      The rolling green countryside of Rwanda’s Thousand Hills area may look fertile and flourishing, but the area desperately needs help. At the launch of the United Nations International Year of Forests, the Rwandan minister of land and the environment, Stanislas Kamanzi, announced a forest landscape restoration initiative.

    • HR1: Deaf, Dumb, and Blind on Climate Change

      Early this morning, after making an atrocious bill even worse, the House of Representatives passed H.R.1 on a vote of 235 to 189, with only three Republicans joining all the Democrats in voting no. What was supposed to be a “continuing resolution” to fund the government through the end of this fiscal year is instead an all out assault on government, and the public health safeguards most Americans want government to enforce, at the behest of big polluters and anti-science ideologues. This is probably the single most irresponsible bill I have seen either Chamber of Congress pass in the more than 20 years I have been in Washington.

    • A Republican Rampage

      The winners, instead, are corporate polluters like Big Oil, cement makers and coal companies that blow the tops off of mountains and leave the landscape in ruins. The losers are Americans everywhere who expect responsible leadership from the Congress and a decent modicum of corporate stewardship from industry. What’s happened here makes a mockery of both. It’s a national disgrace.

    • Diamond jubilee tree-planting project launched

      A Queen’s jubilee year project to plant 6 million trees across the UK has been launched.

      The princess royal will plant the first tree for the Jubilee Woods project, organised by the Woodland Trust charity.

      The project, which has the Queen’s support and the princess as patron, aims to plant the trees across the UK and involve millions of people to celebrate the Queen’s 2012 diamond jubilee.

      To mark the launch, the princess will be planting a tree and placing a personal letter of support in a specially designed Jubilee Woods time capsule at Home Farm Wood, Burkham, Bentworth, in Hampshire.

  • Finance

    • Obama to Teachers: “Drop Dead”

      Obama could simply fly into Madison, deliver a few words of support for the strikers, and assure himself of a landslide victory in 2012. But he won’t do that, because he’s not the man that people thought he was. He won’t lift a finger to help his friends even when they’re embroiled in the biggest fight of their lives. He won’t support the people who supported him.

      Obama’s message to the teachers, “Drop dead!”

    • [Ralph Nader:] Time to Topple Corporate Dictators

      All this adds to the growing sense of powerlessness by the citizenry.

    • RBS was nicely bailed out – now it’s time to bail in

      Last week, I was admonished by an Edinburgh court, having been arrested at a protest in an RBS branch in 2010. The action consisted of the “Superglue 3″ attaching ourselves to the building with glue and politely talking to customers about the bank’s role in funding climate change-inducing projects. Meanwhile a seven-piece band performed rewrites of pop songs about the issues.

    • Chart of the Day: Republican vs. Democratic Spending

      Republicans, it turns out, actually spend a bit more money on social programs than Democrats, as the green bars in the chart below show (click for a larger image). The main difference? Democrats spend it on direct programs that largely serve “the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, and the poor…ethnic minorities, racial minorities, and single mothers.” Republicans spend it indirectly on programs that “are biased towards workers who are White, full-time, in large companies, and high-wage earners.” But spend it they do.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Why Tor is ALWAYS a good idea – Log Analysis

      So, I decided to take a look and see what was happening with the logs, so because I was bored, I decided to use Google and I typed in RCMP IP address. This turned up an ugly webpage by some group called Fathers Canada that’s barely legible. Anyway, they had an article about the RCMP being spied upon by a “cyber-stalker”.

    • 2 Tory senators charged over campaign spending

      Elections Canada has laid charges against the Conservative Party and four of its members, including two senators, over alleged violations of election spending rules.

    • Why have major newspapers ignored Buscombe’s libel payout?

      Last week, Nick Davies reported on this site that the Press Complaints Commission chair, Baroness (Peta) Buscombe, had settled a libel action brought against her by lawyer Mark Lewis.

      In a formal high court statement, she apologised to Lewis and paid him damages. The case concerned a public statement by Buscombe a year ago at a Society of Editors’ conference in which she implied that Lewis had lied about an aspect of the police investigation into the News of the World hacking scandal. That was false: he had not lied.

    • Fox News boss persuaded fellow executive to ‘lie’ to federal investigators

      The chairman of the right-wing current affairs channel, Fox News, Roger Ailes, has been named in court documents as the previously anonymous executive who allegedly tried to persuade a fellow boss at News Corporation to lie to federal investigators over a crucial Washington appointment.

      The New York Times reported court documents had become available that for the first time name Ailes as the mysterious executive involved in the allegations. The claims were initially made in November 2007 by Judith Regan, one of Rupert Murdoch’s rising stars in News Corporation until she was dismissed the previous year in a row over her decision to publish a book with OJ Simpson.

    • Coalition urged to act over lobbyists who use party groups ‘to buy influence’

      Corporations and interest groups have channelled more than £1.6m to MPs and lords in the past year through sponsorship of parliamentary groups, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

      Parliamentary reformers given access to the Guardian’s findings have called on the coalition government to take action to prevent all-party groups acting as “mere front groups for lobbyists to buy influence”.

  • Iran

    • Satellite dishes confiscated to prevent access to information

      The Iranian regime has confiscated satellite dishes in several parts of Tehran to prevent free access to information, according to reports by Hrana this week.

      The news agency said the regime’s State Security Forces (SSF) raided some apartments in western Tehran districts like Shahrak-e Gharb and Ekbatan to confiscate satellite dishes.

    • Mousavi’s apology was rejected

      The Mousavi’s official website, Kaleme.com, has published a document and called it The Charter of Green Movement Publishing this unacceptable document as the charter of the movement, has made many Iranians angry. They say: “Our martyrs have not been killed, and our prisoners have not been tortured or raped for this stupid charter or for stupid reform in this incorrigible regime.” I think they are right, the charter is unacceptable. Indeed, Mousavi showed us that we could not trust him and his team. They are unreliable. This was the last chance of Mousavi and his team to correct their mistakes, but they showed us that they want to repeat their mistakes over and over.

    • Another regime diplomat quits post

      An Iranian regime diplomat has defected from his post in Italy and is seeking political asylum in France, according to the Associated Press on Sunday.

      As an attempt to downplay the defection and prevent similar moves in the future, the faltering regime claimed in its press reports that he had merely “transferred his post.”

    • Changes in VOA Farsi

      Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a well-known Iranian film director, has said to Channel One TV that:’ Mr. Sajadi was a puppet of regime … Last year he didn’t allow that the news of the Iranian protesters were broadcasted in the proper time … the VOA’s staff were angry with him … He fired many independent reporters form VOA … He was a regime’s puppet and the regime’s lobby supported him … if the US really wants to support the protesters, they should kick him out of VOA

    • Stealing a Funeral

      Furthermore, Mr. Karrubi and Mousavi were both placed under house arrest. On February 14, the state-run television reported calm streets in big cities and business as usual. It made a passing reference to sporadic unsuccessful attempts by a few hundred agitators who had tried to march but had been dispersed for lack of sympathy from the general public.

    • The Number of Victims
    • Chants of “We have not given our dead in the hopes of compromise or praising a murderous leader” in Vali-e Asr

      Protesters were protecting themselves by hurling stones and setting trash bins ablaze. In Vanak Square, ferocious clashes took place between the youth and anti-riot forces, continuing after tear gas, was fired to the Mirdamad area and South Kazeroon Ave. Sounds of gunfire were heard frequently from this area up to Yousef Abad. In Vali-e Asr Square, protesters chanted: “We have not given our dead in the hopes of compromise or praising a murderous leader”.

  • Civil Rights

    • Mikhail Gorbachev lambasts Vladimir Putin’s ‘sham’ democracy

      Russia under prime minister Vladimir Putin is a sham democracy, Mikhail Gorbachev has said in his harshest criticism yet of the ruling regime.

      “We have everything – a parliament, courts, a president, a prime minister and so on. But it’s more of an imitation,” the last president of the Soviet Union said.

    • Russia’s chief whistleblower wants to jail the corrupt

      Alexey Navalny leaps out of his chair and draws five black circles on a whiteboard. The circles represent players in Russia’s multibillion-dollar oil industry. With boundless energy and lightning speed, he draws lines and connects the dots, telling the story of what he calls classic Russian corruption.

    • LinkedIn Blocked in China After ‘Jasmine’ Pro-Democracy Postings

      LinkedIn Corp., operator of the largest networking site for professionals, became inaccessible in China after a user posted comments that Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution should spread to the Asian country.

      The blockage of the service “appears to be part of a broader effort in China going on right now, involving other sites as well,” Hani Durzy, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based LinkedIn, said in an e-mail. The company will continue to monitor the situation, he wrote.

    • Thai PM admits British nationality

      Thailand’s prime minister has admitted for the first time that he is also a British citizen, which opponents believe makes him liable for prosecution for alleged human rights abuses during a recent crackdown on anti-government protests.

      Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva publicly acknowledged his dual nationality on Thursday during a debate in parliament. He automatically holds British citizenship because he was born in Newcastle upon Tyne to parents from a well-to-do Bangkok family. He would have to specifically renounce it to lose it.

    • PayPal Statement on Courage to Resist Situation

      Upon review, and as part of our normal business procedures, we have decided to lift the temporary restriction placed on their account because we have sufficient information to meet our statutory ‘Know Your Customer’ obligations. The Courage to Resist PayPal account is now fully operational.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • Rogers Disobeys Internet Openness Rules, Once Again Demonstrates Need for Strong Enforcement

      CRTC staff have written to Rogers Communications regarding customer complaints that the major ISP has been slowing the speeds of “time sensitive audio [and] video traffic.”

    • Say No to the GAC veto

      Tell the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) that you oppose a U.S. Commerce Department proposal to give the world’s governments arbitrary power over the Internet’s domain name system.

    • If governments can block top level domains, is .gay doomed?

      The nonprofit in charge of the world’s Internet domains will meet in San Francisco next month, and plenty of eyes are nervously watching the process by which it will decide how to green light new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs)—suffixes such as “.com,” “.org,” or “.info.” The International Committee on Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN) is circulating proposals for handling the next application round.

    • Brazil Fines Man $1,800 for Sharing Wi-Fi

      National Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL) fines Internet user $ 3,000 BRL ($1,797 USD) for sharing Internet connection with three other low-income neighbors. NTA says the open Wi-Fi connection made him an ISP and he lacked the proper permits.

      Brazil’s National Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL) apparently has too much free time on its hands. Rather than focus on the larger picture of telephone and ISP pricing, access, and competition issues it’s concerned that an individual from a low-income neighborhood is sharing his Wi-Fi connection with others.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Spectrum Disorders
    • Copyrights

      • Liberal MP Dan McTeague Emerges As Unofficial CRIA Spokesperson

        Last week, I reported on a major Canadian lawsuit filed by 26 record labels against isoHunt. The legal action, filed in May 2010 without any press releases or public disclosure by CRIA, seeks millions in damages and an order shutting down the controversial website. At the same time as the labels filed the statement of claim, the four major labels responded to isoHunt’s effort to obtain a declaration that it operating lawfully in Canada. Their Statement of Defence (posted here – excuse the poor scan) also makes the case that isoHunt currently violates Canadian copyright law.

      • DAR.fm Starts To Disrupt What’s Left Of The Music Industry

        Michael Robertson has been throwing bombs at the music industry in the name of users for almost a decade, and today he introduced another product that’s going to drive them nuts: Dar.fm.

      • iiNet again slays Hollywood in landmark piracy case

        The giants of the film industry have lost their appeal in a lawsuit against ISP iiNet in a landmark judgment handed down in the Federal Court today.

        The appeal dismissed today had the potential to impact internet users and the internet industry profoundly as it sets a legal precedent surrounding how much ISPs are required to do to prevent customers from downloading movies and other content illegally.

      • iiNet Wins (again) Against Hollywood in Oz Appeal
      • iiNet Fights Off Hollywood, ISP Not Responsible For Online Piracy
      • Piracy once again fails to get in way of record box office

        The movie business has—yet again—run up record numbers at the box office. In 2010, theaters around the world reported a combined total revenue of $31.8 billion, up 8 percent from 2009. While the industry certainly has its share of piracy problems, they aren’t affecting box office receipts.

        Those receipts are up even as the number of people buying tickets has declined. In the US and Canadian markets, the total number of tickets sold fell by 5 percent last year, but theater owners made up for the decline by raising prices an average of 39¢. The motion picture industry would like to assure you that movies remain a very good deal.

      • Copyright Isn’t a Human Right

        Copyright = Monopoly
        Published works lie outside of an author’s human rights, so the state grants exclusive reproduction privilege — a monopoly — over the reproduction of published works. That is copyright.

        The printing monopolies predating the Statute of Anne in England were privileges granted printers, and so are even less beneficial to creators than copyright, and so not the same thing at all.

Clip of the Day

Anonymous on The Colbert Report


Credit: TinyOgg

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