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IRC Proceedings: June 9th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 11:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: June 8th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

European Commission Wants to Pay Commissions to the United States

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 1:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The European Commission makes strategic mistakes that weaken Europe and give more power to its rivals across the Atlantic, especially gruesome software monopolists

TECHRIGHTS has a lot of respect for Neelie Kroes and the Commission, but if the current agenda is to pay American companies for the privilege of running systems with American back doors (e.g. FBI access), then the European Digital Agenda (note capitalisation) is a bit of a farce. It also puts the continent at great risk in case of a future war.

A couple of years ago we showed how the Commission had been manipulated by lobbyists, then we also showed dubious appointments that made the Commission somewhat hostile towards Free software, and arguably European SMEs too. See for instance some of the following posts:

  1. European Commission Disappoints Regarding Free Software and Patents
  2. Why Today’s European Commission Could Face Legal Action for Selling Out to Microsoft
  3. Patents Roundup: Commission Sells Out to Microsoft; Apple and RIM Sued by Gates-backed Kodak
  4. Inaction From Ombudsman/EU Commission Regarding Microsoft Lobbyists Derailing Public Policy
  5. With New Patent Policy, European Commission Harms European Software Industry
  6. European Open Source Software Workgroup a Total Scam: Hijacked and Subverted by Microsoft et al
  7. Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck
  8. Does the European Commission Harbour a Destruction of Free/Open Source Software Workgroup?
  9. The Illusion of Transparency at the European Parliament/Commission (on Microsoft)
  10. 2 Months and No Disclosure from the European Parliament
  11. After 3 Months, Europe Lets Microsoft-Influenced EU Panel be Seen
  12. Formal Complaint Against European Commission for Harbouring Microsoft Lobbyists
  13. ‘European’ Software Strategy Published, Written by Lobbyists and Multinationals
  14. Microsoft Uses Inside Influence to Grab Control, Redefine “Open Source”
  15. With Friends Like These, Who Needs Microsoft?
  16. European Commission Still Lobbied by Microsoft, OASIS Does Not Support Software Freedom

Neelie and her speech writer who helps manage her blog are no longer in the department which deals with the Microsoft case, but it is hard to forget her more recent remarks that may conflict with her views on Free software.

In the video above, Neelie speaks not in her mother’s tongue and she actually maintains an interesting YouTube channel a lot of which is in Dutch. She did a better job in the Commission than some of her successors, whom we recently showed to be supportive of RAND (with software patents). They are being stuffed by lobbyists and the following new comments berates them for it. The European commenter writes:

If I am not mistaken Oracle is an American company and Mingorance a lobbyist of an American rightsholder organisation. I can’t see how views from American lobbyists are relevant for a European Digital Agenda, other than that we have to break free from our US lock-ins in the digital markets. In other words, let’s do what hurts them most. Small companies from Europe, companies which actually pay their taxes in Europe, are excluded here. What had the Commission in mind?

In the past, back when the Commission did some laudable work with the likes of Neelie in the right chair, telling off the Commission would seem unreasonably disrespectful. But things have changed. Right now, for example, even the FSFE criticises the Commission by showing that it sets a bad example for others to follow. To quote:

In the Commission’s answer to Staes, EC Vice-President Maros Sefcovic argues that “[t]he Commission does not rely on (or is locked into) one single software vendor”, citing the fact that the Commission’s IT infrastructure uses software from many different vendors.


While lock-in is a problem that troubles many organisations, our next concern is quite specific to this case: We believe that the European Commission should have put out a public call for tender when it wanted a new software platform. Instead, the EC simply declares that the move to Windows 7 is just an “upgrade” – just a newer version of the same product.

If “it’s just an upgrade” becomes acceptable as an excuse to ignore the competition and cozy up to a single supplier, then Europe’s market is in trouble; and not just the one for software. Imagine a local administration that decides to have the town’s main street repaved by the same company that built it in the first place, saying that they’re just “upgrading” the road surface. No new competitor would ever get a foot in the door. Public bodies would hardly ever have to hold competitive bidding procedures for any type of product or service they’ve bought before. This simply cannot be right.

The foundation of Europe’s procurement rules, Directive 2004/18/EC, says that those rules are intended to guarantee the opening-up of public procurement to competition. But it looks like in this instance, the EC has found a way to sidestep that goal, letting inertia (let’s be kind here, ok?) take precedence over competition and long-term value for Europe’s citizens. The Commission itself feels the need to emphasise that “it always complies with public procurement legislation”. We’d certainly hope so.

It doesn’t help that the EC is obviously confused on the commercial nature of Free Software when it uses “open source” as the opposite of “commercial software”. Some people in the Commission seem to believe that there is no money to be made with Free Software. The many companies that have built their business on software freedom would certainly argue otherwise.

This is not the first such complaint from the FSFE.

Whatever happened to the European Commission, it is now in danger of earning notoriety just like NATO or the UN. If it allows itself to be steered by lobbyists and monopolies, then there is no longer need for it. Taxpayers just do not receive what they paid for, not even fines imposed on Microsoft for breaking the law [1, 2] (which has cost European citizens a lot of money over the years). We need the ‘old’ Neelie back — the assertive one, not the softened one.

Patent Troll Hopewell Culture and Design Uses Patent From Microsoft Gold Partner in Order to Tax Apple and Linux/Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 1:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Monitor and keyboard

Summary: Microsoft and pet trolls want to carve out a profit from every desktop, tablet, phone etc. even if it does not run Windows; Rick Falkvinge, who used to work for Microosft, calls for the abolishment of all patents

THE ridiculous patent system in the United States is under growing pressure to be scraped or radically reformed. It has become an international laughing stock and at times a national embarrassment. Not every idea deserves a monopoly and some would say that not a single idea deserves a monopoly enforced by the government. According to this new report, Linux-based devices from Motorola are going to be taxed because of some terrible patent:

A Motorola Inc. unit on Tuesday became the latest electronics maker to settle a patent holder’s Texas infringement suit over the double-clicking technology used in the Droid and Droid X smartphones and other popular mobile devices.

To provide some context and background, it is the infamous “Double-Click Lawsuit”, which is hinged on a patent from a Microsoft Gold Partner, namely patent #7,171,625: “Double-clicking a point-and-click user interface apparatus to enable a new interaction with content represented by.”

While the USPTO continues to granted stupid software patents, patent trolls will get hold of these and tax the market at the expense of every buyer and developer. In a sane system, patent trolls should have no right to exist; they are parasites that are also sometimes used as litigation proxies for larger entities. They are like the mafia mob.

In other news of interest, “Man Tries to Patent His ‘Godly Powers’” and as Rui Seabra put it: “Someone tell me this is an anti #swpat prank and not a for real lunatic…”

Here is the cited post:

Godly Powers: A Mystical US Patent Application

I’m going to take a break today from visiting obscure search systems (and writing long 2-part posts) to share with you a delightful patent application that I hold very close to my heart. I usually don’t spend my spare time reading the image file wrappers of US patent applications in PAIR, but I will openly admit that I spent a solid two hours one Saturday morning reading the entire file for US Application No. 11/161,345.

Guess what it’s all about?

No wonder people wish not to even bother reviewing patents. This whole system is ripe for abuse and it empowers abusers.

If it was up to Rick Falkvinge of Pirate Party fame (the original one, in Sweden), there would be no patents at all (software or otherwise). He quotes startup Investors as saying that “Patents are a cancer” and reiterates his points that he made in his talks before (we shared them back in 2009):

One oft-questioned objective of the Pirate Parties is the dismantlement of the patent system, as in scrapping the concept altogether. Patents are a remnant from the guild era that has never served to advance the rate of innovations, but always to brake it in favor of incumbent industries. It should have been killed when free enterprise laws were enacted worldwide in mid-1850s, but wasn’t.

The patent system delayed the Industrial Revolution by 30 years, broadcast radio by five to ten years, powered flight by 25 years… I could go on and on. And today, it’s no different. The situation certainly isn’t helped by clueless politicians who measure “innovation” as “number of filed patent applications”, which is about as useful as measuring “economic growth” as “number of smashed windows”. It’s not just unrelated, the correlation is strongly negative.

This is important: the patent system hasn’t derailed just recently. It was always a retardant on innovation. It’s just that the pace of ideas has picked up, and so this fact has become much more apparent — and much more damaging.

This truthful statement is somewhat of a taboo in the circles of patent lawyers, who are wagging this dog (USPTO) by its tail. Time for reform or reboot, no?

Microsoft Veterans Making a Profit From Bashing Linux, GPL

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 12:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Firms with Microsoft roots do a disservice to FOSS and a favour to the Microsoft agenda

THE SUBJECT of Microsoft veterans turning to the FUD business was addressed here thrice recently.

This is a serious issue that definitely deserves more attention. One journalist who used to edit the Linux Today Web site (Brian Proffitt) writes about the latest from Black Duck:

I pulled a thread today, and found a little FUD that turned out to be a marketing pitch.

The headline on my newsreader read “Legal Challenges in Android Development,” with a byline on Law.com. This sounded like another legal expert taking potshots at Android, so I clicked the link to see what was what.

What I found was an article that, while not as harsh as some I have seen, seemed to single out Android development as more potentially hazardous to a developer’s legal health than other open source projects.

Imagine, then, my surprise when I noted that the article’s author was Mark F. Radcliffe, who currently acts as the General Counsel for the Open Source Initiative.

The article, in and of itself, wasn’t too far afield of any other kind of licensing article a lawyer might put together. Know your license, know what you’re getting into, and execute plans accordingly. Open source fans may get jumpy about such advice, because we tend to get defensive, but in truth it’s no different than any advice about any license, proprietary or otherwise. “Respect the License” is solid advice no matter the license.

And on it goes.

Black Duck was in fact delivering FOSS FUD for quite a while. Its support of software patents (by action) does not contribute much to its credibility and it is one thing that they have in common with Microsoft Florian. the headline in Linux Today was “Is Black Duck spreading FUD about Android for profit?”

Aptly titled. It’s a rhetorical question. But Black Duck is not the only for-profit entity which is doing it. There are also many corruptible analysts whom Microsoft pays to parrot its own nonsense and consultant whom Microsoft hires (i.e. pays money to) for bias, or at least for self-censorship. Some of these analysts eventually receive a wage from Microsoft, but not before they manage to also pollute the minds of journalists who receive free trips to the US, funded by Microsoft. Recall what we wrote about the standards debate after Winterford had accepted a bribe from Microsoft [1, 2] (and brainwash from a so-called ‘analyst’,Peter O’Kelly, who would later get a job from Microsoft). Sadly enough, this is how the industry works and to be blind to it or unaware of it leads to bafflement.

Interestingly enough, years after the embarrassing incident Winterford highlights the situation with Silverlight, whose adopters are being abandoned by Microsoft like we showed earlier this month (the same goes for Moonlight developers, who helped ‘openwash’ Silverlight and merely pretend it was cross-platform). He notes that:

Thousands of Silverlight developers converged on Microsoft’s forum pages to ask why there was no mention of Silverlight or .Net in the vendor’s brief video preview of the upcoming operating system.

Developers expressed fears Microsoft might let their investment in skills “die on the vine” as Redmond finally embraces open standards.

The same goes for those who went with OOXML, which even Microsoft did not follow (it was just about getting a rubber stamp). Well, maybe it’s for the better because OOXML is a patent infringement and Microsoft has just lost the case over this in SCOTUS. The following news is just in:

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Microsoft Corp. must pay a $290 million judgment awarded to a small Toronto software company for infringing on one of its patents inside its popular Microsoft Word program.

The high court unanimously refused to throw out the judgment against the world’s largest software maker.

Toronto-based i4i sued Microsoft in 2007, saying it owned the technology behind a tool used in Microsoft Word. The technology in question gave Word 2003 and Word 2007 users an improved way to edit XML, which is computer code that tells the program how to interpret and display a document’s contents.

The lower courts say Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft willfully infringed on the patent, and ordered the world’s largest software maker to pay i4i $290 million and stop selling versions of Word containing the infringing technology.

We are going to write about this later. Time to end software patents, right? Well, Microsoft would not like that. To Microsoft, “bad” patents are only those that are used against it.

Links 9/6/2011: Millennius Sells GNU/Linux PCs, Snapshots in EXT4

Posted in News Roundup at 3:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Google discontinues specialised Linux and BSD search pages

    Google has discontinued its specialised Linux and BSD search pages. The services at google.com/linux and google.com/bsd offered search which was limited to a specific topic by searching only relevant web sites, message boards, blogs and other hand-selected sources of information. Users are instead now redirected to google.com/webhp, a standard search page.

  • Fight “lawful access” with Liberté Linux.

    While Canada’s Internet experience is, at present, nothing like the filtered and monitored mess you’d get in say, China, there are some troubling signs ahead. Chief among them is the looming spectre of “lawful access” — explained here by Dr. Michael Geist and the subject of this recent episode of Jesse Brown‘s Search Engine podcast.

    Fortunately, if you’re a Linux user like me there’s no shortage of options to protect your anonymity on the ‘net — hell, there’s an entire distribution dedicated to keeping your online affairs private.

  • Photos: Inside Murdoch’s $5m Linux supercomputer

    Supercomputing group iVEC has invited its first applications from researchers seeking access to its $5 million Linux cluster at Murdoch University.

    The so-called Epic@Murdoch was officially launched by Innovation Minister Kim Carr and State Science and Innovation Minister John Day yesterday, after some five months’ use by ‘early adopters’.

  • Desktop

    • Millennius Goes Old School With PC Towers Running Ubuntu

      Unless you build your own PC (or get one made from your local PC store), or you want a high-end gaming machine, it’s pretty uncommon to find PC towers on the market. But online retailer Millennius has bucked that trend, launch five new tower PCs, all of them running Ubuntu.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME, KDE and Unity: Virtual Desktops

      Together, GNOME 3, KDE, and Unity probably account for at least two-thirds of Linux desktops. However, each of the three offers a desktop experience that differs strongly from the other two, and nowhere is that difference stronger than in the use of virtual desktops. In fact, few other features show so clearly the design philosophies behind the three desktops.

      Virtual desktops go by a variety of names. Unity and the GNOME 2 series of releases call them workspaces, while GNOME 3 calls them activities. KDE offers activities, each of which can be divided into separate virtual desktops. However, all the names refer to the same basic concept: additional spaces that you can use to reduce the clutter on your screen and organize your open windows.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Discovering a New World

        This weekend a group of KDE hackers met in a small mountain village, Randa, in Switzerland to discuss the future of the KDE Frameworks. I was not present, but started on Saturday an endevour for the future of the KDE Plasma Workspaces. Yesterday evening I arrived in the new world:

      • digiKam Software Collection 2.0.0 beta6 is out…

        digiKam team is proud to announce the 6th digiKam Software Collection 2.0.0 beta release!

        With this release, digiKam include a lots of bugs fixes to progress in stability for future production use.

        digiKam include since 2.0.0-beta5 a new tool to export on RajCe web service.

      • New GStreamer backend for Phonon

        Along with the availability of QtGStreamer this should improve KDE and GStreamer interaction a lot. Nice stuff!

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Pomodoro Extension Toggle Timer For Gnome Shell ” Take A Break “

        Gnome Shell Extension notify you for how long you been setting since you activate the toggle timer extensions so you can take a break of whatever you are doing or start working on other stuff.

        By Default Pomodoro extensions change number of cycle every 25 minutes and the cycle start counting by one.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia Linux 1 (KDE) – First Look and Background Information

        After spending a little time with it, I have to say it’s a very nice first effort from the Mageia team, and I look forward to spending some more time with it. Lots of very up-to-date software, lots of desktop environments available, and, of course, the drakeconf tools.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • The Fruits of DEX Begin to Emerge

        A few months ago DEX was introduced to work with the Debian Front Desk to aid Linux developers in contributing back upstream to Debian. The Front Desk provides resources such as documentation, contacts, and a discussion forum in this goal, but DEX goes a step further by organizing developers from Debian and Debian derivatives to monitor and merge changes into the Debian development tree. They hoped this would make the contributing back process easier for those derivatives to better the Debian codebase.

        Today we got our first update on their progress. Matt Zimmerman, Ubuntu and Debian developer (among many other things), has blogged that their first goal has been reached.

      • Debian Project News – June 8th, 2011
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Making the Evolutionary Leap from Meerkat to Narwhal

            ’m very happy with Ubuntu as a desktop operating system. I’ve used it for years with no significant issues. In fact, Ubuntu excels where other disributions fail. Even Linux arch rival Windows, is often left in the last century compared to the innovations perpetrated by the Canonical group. But what about Natty Narwhal? Is the hype worth the effort? I’d have to say, “Yes.” Although, I’m not 100 percent sold on Unity, I’m impressed with its boot speed, shutdown speed, and snappy performance. Oh, and there’s that little matter of The Launcher.

          • Loyal opposition: What it means

            “Ubuntu has many good points, not the least of which are kick-starting serious effort in making a really good desktop Linux, making inroads into the commercial computer market, genuinely welcoming new contributors, and inspiring hosts of respins and derivatives. Think back to the pre-Ubuntu days– Debian releases were stretching out ever longer (over three years!), Mandriva is perennially in crisis, Red Hat is uninterested in the consumer market….hmmm, methinks I spy an article in this subject.” (emphasis added)

            So I’ll take a bow for contributing to the inspiration behind Carla writing this article, which is outstanding. Its outstanding nature outshines the fact that there are a couple of minuscule glitches in the article itself — one is that while Red Hat may not care about the desktop market, it established Fedora Core and the Fedora Project at the same time it “went enterprise” (not terribly clear in the article), and Fedora started roughly a year before Ubuntu came along. Also, for all the great things it rightfully says about Ubuntu — let me repeat that, for all the great things it rightfully says about Ubuntu — it still doesn’t address the community’s lack of technical contributions back to the greater FOSS community, for starters.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Small tablet improvements

        If you’re interested in testing out this on a WeTab, you’ll need the accelerometer driver in the kernel, udev git (or udev 172 when it’s released) and gnome-settings-daemon master.

Free Software/Open Source

  • How Open Source Projects Can Prepare Students for Better Careers

    Paula Hunter is the executive director of the Outercurve Foundation. With over two decades of open source experience, she has served in leadership roles at organizations such as Open Source Development Labs and United Linux. Follow her on Twitter @huntermkt.

    Free and open source software (FOSS) is at the root of the most innovative products, technologies and services of our time. The Social Network may have taken some Hollywood liberties, but there’s still a big story to tell about today’s colleges as the hotbeds of innovation, much of it driven by FOSS.

  • Open Source for Vertical Apps: Is Wall Street Ready?

    Think of the kind of financial services firms that populate Wall Street and the City of London. The sort of collaborative ethos that surrounds open source does not immediately come to mind. Rather we see images of cut throat competition and a boundless desire to create a competitive edge, any way, any how.

  • On the value of contributing opinions

    I recently read a mail on the KDE core-devel mailinglist by Eike Hein. It was quite a good description of the value of opinions and ideas for a FOSS project – something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • OpenOffice + Apache = Open Content Innovation

      I will let other people debate Oracle’s motivations, Apache vs. The Document Foundation (TDF), etc. but here are a few interesting facts: OpenOffice is one of the most successful and vast open source projects in the world (1.2 million downloads a week and 135 million known distributions). OpenOffice.org gets 10x the number of unique visitors as the Apache.org homepage itself, according to Compete. By measures of downloads and web traffic, OpenOffice is as relevant as ever.

    • Like a box of chocolates

      There’s the OpenOffice.org handoff — or as some would put it, the OO.o drop kick — to the Apache Foundation by Oracle. This comes as no surprise. If Oracle were a good FOSS citizen, they’d have given it to the Document Foundation and LibreOffice would be its rightful heir. But this is Oracle we’re talking about, right? With Oracle finally washing their hands of OO.o, it remains to be seen what becomes of it. But since the barn door has been open for quite some time and the LibreOffice horse is at home out in the pasture, I am not sure if keeping OO.o around would be worth it.

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 8 review

      FreeNAS is a popular FreeBSD-based operating system for network-attached storage (NAS). Thanks to the easy-to-use web interface, you don’t have to know anything about the FreeBSD base under the hood to share your files…


    • Richard Stallman Takes Aim At eBooks

      Enthusiasm for eBooks seems to know no bounds these days, with Amazon even noting that its eBook sales are outpacing sales of hardback and paperback books. Free software pundit Richard Stallman isn’t having any of the trend, though. In an article titled “The Dangers of eBooks,” highlighted by PC Pro, Stallman builds a case against eBooks. His rant is not dissimilar to the one he recently supplied against smartphones, where he even noted that he doesn’t carry a cell phone. When it comes to eBooks, Stallman has some particularly notable objections.

      Stallman claims that eBooks “don’t respect our freedom,” and points to the DRM that comes with eBooks downloaded from Amazon (DRM is also built into many eBooks from other suppliers). He also notes that “Amazon requires users to identify themselves to get an eBook.”

    • EBooks are “attacking our freedom”

      Free software guru Richard Stallman has called on consumers to reject eBooks until they “respect our freedom”.

      In an article entitled The Dangers of eBooks (PDF), the founder of the Free Software Foundation warns that “technologies that could have empowered us are used to chain us instead”.

      He highlights the DRM embedded in eBooks sold by Amazon as an example of such restrictions, citing the infamous case of Amazon wiping copies of George Orwell’s 1984 from users’ Kindles without permission.

    • Two new projects can help free software replace Skype

      Skype has been in the news a lot lately: Microsoft agreed to buy the company, their network has gone down twice recently, and they’re threatening to take unspecified action against developers who try to write free software to make calls on their system. This all merely adds insult to injury; the software has always been nonfree, and that’s why a free software replacement for Skype has been on our High Priority Projects list since October 2008. Lots of people use software like Ekiga and Twinkle to make simple VoIP calls, but they’re still missing some features, and that prevents people from making the switch to using free software. Thankfully, a couple of new projects aim to close this gap, and both have made some promising progress over the last month.


  • Twitter the Winner in Weinergate
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Health Insurers Have Had Their Chance

      Of the many supporters of a single-payer health care system in the United States, some of the most ardent are small business owners who have struggled to continue offering coverage to their workers.

      Among them are David Steil, a small business owner and former Republican state legislator in Pennsylvania who earlier this year became president of the advocacy group Health Care 4 All PA.

      Another supporter is Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who last Thursday signed a bill that sets the stage for the country’s first single-payer plan. If all goes as Shumlin and the bill’s many backers hope, all 620,000 Vermonters will eventually be enrolled in a state-run plan to replace Blue Cross, CIGNA and other private insurers whose business practices have contributed to the number of Vermonters without coverage — approximately 60,000 and growing.

    • Military underprices tobacco more than law allows

      Smoking and chewing tobacco use in the armed forces is widespread. Yet many military bases break the rules and sell tobacco at big discounts.

    • It’s official: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide causes birth defects

      A new report by some top scientists has nailed it down, and Monsanto isn’t going to be happy. The Agri-giant has built its entire business model, including genetically modified (GMO) crops that dominate the US market, around its Roundup brand herbicide.

      They last thing they want to admit is that it causes birth defects.

      But that’s just what a group of scientists from a diverse group – including Cambridge University, the King’s College London School of Medicine, and the Institute of Biology, UNICAMP, São Paulo, Brazil – have found.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The Energy Limit Model

      But it’s not like Americans haven’t tried to reduce their use of the primary energy source–oil. In the chart below, we can see that US consumption of oil, expressed in BTU, has fallen dramatically from the highs of mid-decade. While the US consumption of coal and natural gas—and also wind and solar power—has rebounded more strongly since the 2009 lows, US consumption of oil is still down nearly 11.00% from peak. This aspect of the story contains both good news and bad news, which I will explain below. | see: US Annual Petroleum Consumption in Quadrillion BTU 1995-2010.

    • The World Turns to Coal

      The latest BP Statistical Review was published in London this morning, and following a theme presented for years at Gregor.us, global growth in coal consumption continues to soar. Now that global oil production is flat, and is no longer able to fund new industrial expansion, coal remains the cheap BTU and of course the preferred energy source of the Developing World (non-OECD).

  • Finance

    • Russ Feingold Leads Thousands in Budget Protest at Wisconsin Capitol

      Former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold led the march from Madison Fire Station 1 toward the Capitol. Feingold was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, and marched up to the Capitol with Rock County AFSCME member past the standing “Walkerville” tent encampment, whose friendly inhabitants set up refreshment tables to help crowds battle the crushing heat. Feingold refused to address speculation that he might oppose Scott Walker in the next election, but signs, T-shirts and chants of “Russ for Governor” indicated mounting support for his candidacy.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Fearful Teen Commits Suicide Due to Harold Camping’s Judgment Day Prediction

      A 14-year-old girl from Russia was so scared of the May 21 doomsday and rapture prediction made by Harold Camping that she committed suicide the same day, investigators said Wednesday. The teenager wanted to choose death rather than be among the ones suffering on earth after the rapture.

    • Corporate lobby targets African-Americans for NC bill raising loan interest rates

      North Carolina has some of the most stringent consumer protection rules in the country against predatory lending. In 2010, lending groups ramped up campaign contributions [pdf] to elect lawmakers more hospitable to their interests, and are now pushing a bill that would allow lenders to raise the interest rates they charge on consumer loans — and reaching out to African-American voters who would be among those most affected by the measure.

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