Summary: How Microsoft is “enabling tyranny” in China with yet another deal that helps show mockery of the Chinese
LAST night we discovered some important facts about Microsoft helping Tunisia spy on citizens, more of less in the same way that Russian dissent was crushed with help from Microsoft. This is an appalling display of proprietary software in action. The news about Tunisia is actually based on a diplomatic leak which now receives a lot of extensive coverage. Well, our own post and the other one which we cited got many links/references to them and even the ‘press’ covered the issue after this had been revealed. See for example the article “Microsoft aided former Tunisian regime” as it says:
According to a cable sent by the US embassy in Tunis on 22 September, 2006, Microsoft was so keen to get the Tunisian government to drop its policy favouring open-source software that it agreed to set up a “program on cyber criminality” to cover training. The deal also entailed the company giving the Tunisian regime, headed by President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, the original source code for Microsoft software.
The cable was made public last week by Wikileaks as part of a massive and largely accidental publication of unredacted US embassy messages. In it, embassy officials told Washington there was a risk the training could be used to further oppress the Tunisian people.
“Through a program on cyber criminality, Microsoft will train government officials in the Ministries of Justice and Interior on how to use computers and the internet to fight crime. As part of this program, Microsoft will provide the GOT [Government of Tunisia] with original source codes for its program,” the cable read.
“In theory, increasing GOT law enforcement capability through IT training is positive, but given heavy-handed GOT interference in the internet, Post questions whether this will expand GOT capacity to monitor its own citizens,” it continued.
This leads us to today’s Cablegate cable, which shows how Microsoft bashes the intelligence and the education of the Chinese. China’s relationship with Bill Gates is a subject that we wrote about many times in the past, even several years ago. Watch his role in the following deal:
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGZ #5379/01 1440829
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 240829Z MAY 06
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8706
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 015379
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON, ETRD, EINV, EDUC, TNGD, CH
SUBJECT: Microsoft Opens Technology Center in Guangzhou
(U) This document is sensitive but unclassified. Please
1. (SBU) Summary: Following on the heels of President Hu
Jintao's meeting with Bill Gates in Seattle, Microsoft
unveiled its first technology center in South China. The
center is the result of an agreement between Microsoft and
the Chinese government to set up at least 10 such centers
throughout China. The center will develop software for e-
governance, entertainment, and information systems security
as well as provide training and consulting services to local
government offices and enterprises. The facility will
eventually employ between 300 and 500 software engineers,
though staff said they will be lucky to find 100 qualified
candidates by the end of 2006. End summary.
Microsoft Makes a Deal
2. (SBU) Timothy Chen, corporate vice president and CEO of
the Greater China region, was the ranking Microsoft
representative at the ceremony on May 15. In an aside to
Consul General, Chen said he served as the interpreter
during President Hu Jintao's April 2006 visit to Bill Gates'
Seattle home. The opening ceremony of the Guangzhou
Technology Center was reportedly postponed until Hu returned
from his visit to Seattle.
3. (U) In his remarks, Chen said Microsoft and the Chinese
government signed their first MOU in June 2002. Since then,
Microsoft has provided training support to more than 30,000
Chinese students and professionals free of charge. In
addition, Microsoft has outsourced USD 5.5 million worth of
software products to Chinese partners. Microsoft and the
Chinese government signed their second MOU on Apr. 18, 2006
during Hu's visit to Seattle. Under this agreement,
Microsoft will establish more than 10 technology centers in
key cities in China to promote the advancement of
information technology through cooperation with local
And Now to Fill the Buildings...
4. (SBU) Microsoft's Guangdong research center is the first
such center for Microsoft in South China, and others are
planned for Shenzhen and Xiamen. The center is located in
Gaotang Software Park, on the fringes of the city in the
fast-developing Tianhe District. It occupies two mid-size
buildings that are connected by an elevated pedestrian
walkway and surrounded by grassy fields -- a miniature
version of the Seattle campus. According to company
literature, the center's long-term goal is to employ between
300 and 500 software engineers. However, Microsoft
representatives said informally that they would be lucky to
find 100 qualified employees by the end of 2006 because of
the dearth of well trained, experienced professionals in the
5. (U) According to company literature, the center will
provide services in software design, development, and
support in the areas of e-governance, information security,
and digital entertainment. It will also provide training
and consulting services for government agencies and
enterprises, with the aim of developing Guangzhou's software
Big Plans for Guangzhou's Software Industry
6. (U) Guangzhou Vice Mayor Shen Bonian noted in his remarks
that Guangzhou is experiencing a shortage of high-tech
talent, but said the city's 11th Five-Year Plan calls for
more than 200,000 software technicians by 2010. He said the
Microsoft technology center will help nurture this much-
needed talent and also assist in the informatization of
Guangzhou government offices and enterprises. Guangzhou's
software industry is expected to generate more than 100
billion RMB (USD 12.5 billion) in income by 2010, with an
annual increase of 35 percent. In comparison, software
companies in Gaotang Software Park generated 10.5 billion
RMB (USD 1.3 billion) of revenue from software sales in
Comment: A Political Necessity Hobbled by Educational
GUANGZHOU 00015379 002 OF 002
7. (SBU) This technology center, being the result of
negotiations between Microsoft and the Chinese government,
may serve Guangzhou's interests more than Microsoft's,
though Microsoft sees the centers as being a political
necessity for its future in China. Though software
localization and customer service are important for
Microsoft's regional operations, the employment, training,
and consulting services that this center will provide are a
boon to Guangzhou's high-tech industry. The remarks by
Microsoft staff that the center's job openings will be
difficult to fill reflect the deficit of well-trained,
experienced professionals in Guangzhou's high-tech industry.
Other contacts in the high-tech field have complained to us
that young Chinese software developers have sufficient
technical ability, but lack the talent to innovate -- owing
in part to outdated teaching methods in China's
A year ago Microsoft was accused in the US senate of “enabling tyranny” in China [1, 2]. █
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Summary: Familiar faces and sympathetic countries offer protection to a monopoly abuser
IRELAND is well known as Microsoft’s centre of tax dodge in Europe. The exchange is one of little or no benefit to the Irish economy (which not so long ago stood on its last leg), it’s about rich people trying to evade tax using loopholes and tax havens.
In a fascinating Cablegate cable, pro-software patents dunce Charlie McCreevy is being addressed indirectly. This is different from Austria's position:
DE RUEHDL #0335 0891457
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 301457Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY DUBLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6705
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
C O N F I D E N T I A L DUBLIN 000335
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2015
TAGS: ETRD, KIPR, EUN, EI
SUBJECT: IRELAND SHARES USG CONCERNS ON MICROSOFT
REF: A. STATE 46956
B. YOUNG-SOILA E-MAIL OF 3/13/06
Classified By: Political-Economic Counselor Mary E. Daly; Reasons 1.4 (
B) and (D).
(C) Ireland shares USG concerns about the Commission's
treatment of Microsoft (which has its European operations
center and large-scale R&D programs in Ireland), according to
Ronald Long, Assistant Secretary General in the Department of
Enterprise, Trade, and Employment (DETE), with whom Post
discussed reftel demarche on March 28 and 29. Long, who has
responsibility for competition issues in DETE and claims to
have written the 1991 EU Copyright Directive for Computer
Programs, noted that DETE Minister Micheal Martin had
recently written to EU Internal Market Commissioner (and
former Irish Finance Minister) Charlie McCreevy to alert the
Commission to the GOI's concerns. Long elaborated that the
GOI saw the Commission as less than transparent in its
evaluation of the interoperability information supplied by
Microsoft in compliance with the Commission's antitrust
ruling. The GOI, he added, worried that the Commission's
dealings with Microsoft were making the ground rules for
competition cases unclear, a trend that should concern any
company operating in Europe. He asked to stay in touch with
Post as the Microsoft case proceeded.
Got to love the part about “less than transparent” in relation to the EU Commission. Lack of transparency is actually the Microsoft problem which the EU Commission was trying to address. What is this, projection? █
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IE has steadily lost market share over the last two years …
Techflash puts as nice a spin on the situation as Microsoft could want, babbling on about Vista 7 and wonderful “experiences”. Robert Pogson astutely notices the growing difference between Net Applications and everyone else’s data,
NetApplications hides its sample and indeed has just made the umpteenth wiggle to their data-analysis to try to keep that other OS over 90% share on the desktop… Clearly, they are not operating in the same universe [as wikipedia] with such divergent results.
The agency overseeing the remains of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seeks billions of dollars in compensation from banks … including Bank of America, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, as early as Friday.
Antitrust nemesis accuses Google of ‘WMD program’
PJ calls out The Register and Microsoft in this latest round of FUD, intentionally not linked.
Perchance Metz forgot to mention the Microsoft connection? Well, that’s what Groklaw is for. Here’s some background on who is really behind all this Google-smear/accusation nonsense. Note that Google has pointed out that Foundem is backed by ICOMP, an organization funded largely by Microsoft. I don’t know about you, but I’m mighty sick of Microsoft’s Machiavellian ways.
Any advertiser that hands me Foundem, Bing, Yahoo or any other Microsoft related promotion has failed.
Our Linux expert, Joe Brockmeier (known in the Linux community as Zonker) said that Intel and Nokia have “done everything entirely wrong, from start to finish” when it came to MeeGo. They put obstacles in the way for developers and innovation was hampered. When Moblin and Maemo were merged, the Linux community was not entirely behind the move and developers were discouraged from making changes that were not under the thumb of either Intel or Nokia. … MeeGo was supposed to be Intel’s way to tie an operating system to a chip and create a device line that would be entirely Atom. … was designed as a response to mobile devices not supporting Intel’s Atom line of mobile processors.
Nokia should have run with ARM and Maemo when they had the market to themselves. Listening to Intel was fatal.
It is one thing to cause a stolen computer to report its IP address or its geographical location in an effort to track it down. It is something entirely different to violate federal wiretapping laws by intercepting the electronic communications of the person using the stolen laptop.
The company was obviously staffed by bored people looking for titillation. That they occasionally catch thieves is no assurance that they won’t be spying on other people, such as this inadvertent receiver of stolen property, or the laptop’s owner. Non free software always has the power to spy and can not be trusted.
The first duty of social software is to improve its users’ social experience. Facebook’s longstanding demand that its users should only have one identity is either a toweringly arrogant willingness to harm people’s social experience in service to doctrine; or it is a miniature figleaf covering a huge, throbbing passion for making it easier to sell our identities to advertisers. Google has adopted the Facebook doctrine at the very moment in which the figleaf slipped, when people all over the world are noticing that remaking ancient patterns of social interaction to conform to advertising-driven dogma exposes you to everything from humiliation at school to torture in the cells of a Middle Eastern despot. There could be no stupider moment for Google to subscribe to the gospel of Zuckerberg, and there is no better time for Google to show us an alternative.
The documents also reveal that the mobile backscatter machines cannot be American National Standards Institute “certified people scanners” because of the high level of radiation output and because subjects would not know they have been scanned.
So great is the perceived threat to medical research that a group of American doctors and scientists have issued a protest saying: “The use of patents or exorbitant licensing fees to prevent physicians and clinical laboratories from performing genetic tests limits access to medical care, jeopardizes the quality of medical care, and unreasonably raises its cost.” Once a patent has been issued on a drug or discovery, scientists must pay outrageous licensing fees in order to do further research in the given area, thus preventing the development of cures due to lack of funding.
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This provides an opportunity for Linux, a free and open source operating system that anyone can download and use, to be more widely adopted in the desktop. Linux is dominant in the mobile space with Android. Apart from the wrong impressions that it is difficult to use, Linux failed to gain much traction in the desktop because people were tied to specific software that worked only on Windows.
Update: David Airlie has replied to say he would rather not merge the plug-in portion of the driver unless there is an open-source module to take avantage of the plug-in API. Rob Clark has responded that he expects an open user within a month or so. This may put the OMAP driver out of reach for merging in the Linux 3.2 kernel, but would then become a target for integration in the Linux 3.3 kernel.
K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)
We have an on-screen (or, if you prefer, virtual or software) keyboard for Plasma. It can run independently of the shell by way of the plasma-keyboardcontainer application (which we use in Plasma Active) or the Keyboard Plasmoid that comes as part of the kdeplasma-addons repository.
The BackBox team is proud to announce the release of BackBox Linux 2.
BackBox 2 features the following upstream components: Ubuntu 11.04, Linux Kernel 2.6.38 and Xfce 4.8.0
The images (32bit & 64bit) can be downloaded from the following location:
As of today I find myself in the position of deciding whether or not to stick with my previously preferred distribution, Mandriva Linux.
I took the plunge to migrate my personal / business desktop PC from Mandriva 2010.2 to Mageia 1 today (Sunday, 4 September 2011). I used the instructions from this page: Migrate from Mandriva Linux. Specifically the section titled, “b) Upgrading inline, using urpmi (CLI)”. The migration is roughly three quarters done as I type this. I decided to try to use the PC while I ran the migration from console 1 (Ctrl Alt F1). In preparation for this I closed programs I suspected would be most affected. Such as:
Flavours and Variants
After reviewing Bodhi Linux I had some time to really play around with the system. Preferring a minimal environment, I decided to check out what the minimal installation theme had to offer. One thing is for sure, when Bodhi thinks you want minimal it takes you seriously. I found myself looking at a clock. That was the only gadget on the desktop… there wasn’t even a task bar. Now if this sounds like I’m complaining let me set you straight: I asked for minimal and I expected no less, so seeing this was quite a pleasant surprise. It means that if needed I can build my desktop from the ground up.
Some retail locations have received all the tools necessary to sell the much anticipated Motorola Droid Bionic. With a surprise Verizon Korean translated commercial showing an additional 31-seconds frame revealing Sept. 8 release date, expect droid Bionic to be launched on Thursday.
IFA 2011 Medion joined the throng of vendors touting an Android 3.2-based tablet at IFA, though it kept its offering, the LifeTab P9514 behind closed doors.
Many have predicted, that tablets will replace netbooks completely. While I cannot agree with this absolute statement, I admit that tablets serve a set of use-cases better than netbooks. The touch-interface and low power-consumption of tablets make content consumption more comfortable (e.g. no heating, no fan-noise, longer battery runtime, less weight to lug around…etc).
That said, there are areas where tablets just cannot give enough. For example, any kind of work which requires more serious input while being mobile. The problem of efficient input can be solved with accessories like a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Usually, when you prepare your tablet for extra-home journeys, you buy a case which also hosts the keyboard.
RMS is working on a press release which will grant a special exception to the GPL to anyone who is using one of the affected tarballs. In the meantime new tarballs have been uploaded to the FSF FTP repository with the missing sources added. The new tarballs have an ‘a’ suffix to their name, but otherwise behave in exactly the same way as the tarballs they replace. So for example the latest 2.21 binutils release tarball is now:
Health (GNU Health) is now an official GNU Project software. We’re the new kid in town at Savannah, but the project has been around since 2008.
ou have often argued that the implementation of the White Paper ‘Open Source Vision – Nurturing the Proliferation of Open Source Software’, authored by the Malta Information Technology Agency, could be as important for the future of Malta and its role in the increasingly globalised world as independence or joining the EU. But you have almost always insisted on the economic significance of the proposal, while the best-known international advocates of the Open Source Movement lay just as much emphasis on its political significance from the point of view of democratic development. What weight do you give to this political aspect in the Maltese context in relation to the rapidly and radically changing Mediterranean setting?
I think the future of the desktop OS is going to be rather irrelevant though. Like it or not, we march on to the cloud and the volume of web-based apps that people are raving about will ensure that it won’t matter which platform you are running. The cloud has many people worried. I’m not one of them.
TechBytes is reaching its first year, the collaboration project that started with Roy Schestowitz making a one line request in Identi.ca has been the focus of much of my efforts this last year, in 2008 when I first started writing Linux articles online I remember the focus of those articles was showing people why Linux was far better than a Windows experience. I see myself having to spend less time doing that since even the tech uninterested are seeming to understand there can be a better (and happier) existence outside of Microsoft products.
Today the Obama Administration made a decision that will endanger the health of tens of thousands of Americans. Its choice to delay stronger standards for smog lets polluters off the hook and leaves Americans with sicker family members and higher medical costs.
Smog standards exist because smog is dangerous to human health. It causes respiratory illness, cardiac disease, and premature death. Though we have made progress in reducing this harmful pollution in American skies, we haven’t licked the problem yet.
On an upcoming edition of PBS’ Frontline, former CIA lawyer John Rizzo argues that the CIA under President Obama is straight-up Bushian. “With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations,” Rizzo says. (Watch a clip of the Rizzo interview here.) Glenn Greenwald points out that this shouldn’t be news to anyone who’s been paying attention.
The real news: Frontline also reports that, during the 2008 campaign, Obama promised the CIA that it he had every intention of staying the course set by the Bush administration. That information, if it had come out at the time, might have damaged Obama’s end-the-war, stop-the-torture campaign mojo.
The recently abandoned room is lined with posters and English-language training manuals stamped with the name Amesys, a unit of French technology firm Bull SA, which installed the monitoring center. A warning by the door bears the Amesys logo. The sign reads: “Help keep our classified business secret. Don’t discuss classified information out of the HQ.”
Like many others, I have spent the past several days combing through countless US Department of State cables. I am primarily looking at the cables that describe our government’s efforts to drive up the price of medicine in developing countries. This is an act of state-sponsored violence that is rarely reported by the New York Times, the Guardian or other newspapers that had received early copies of the cables.
I am also looking at the news of and the reaction to WikiLeaks’ failure to withhold access to cables that include the names of sources of intelligence, putting at risk the lives of the persons so named.
Wondering why gold at $1850 is cheap, or why gold at double that price will also be cheap, or frankly at any price? Because, as the following leaked cable explains, gold is, to China at least, nothing but the opportunity cost of destroying the dollar’s reserve status. Putting that into dollar terms is, therefore, impractical at best, and illogical at worst. We have a suspicion that the following cable from the US embassy in China is about to go not viral but very much global, and prompt all those mutual fund managers who are on the golden sidelines to dip a toe in the 24 karat pool.
obert Mugabe told a former US ambassador that the ageing president had prostate cancer that would kill him by 2013, leaked US embassy cables show.
Central bank chief Gideon Gono made the claims in remarks to James McGee in June 2008 – when Zimbabwe was mired in election violence following Mugabe’s loss to then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round of polls in March.
A senior New Israel Fund officer told a U.S. official in 2010 that the disappearance of the Jewish state would not be a tragedy, according to a document that was leaked by Wikileaks.
The officer is Hedva Radovanitz, who was at the time (February 2010) NIF Associate Director in Israel, according to the document.
The document relates to the attempts to pass a law that would demand transparency of political NGOs operating in Israel that are funded by foreign countries.
Naturally, “60 Minutes” wanted to hear from Assange himself. But for producers Tanya Simon and Howard Rosenberg and correspondent Steve Kroft just getting this interview was a story in and of itself.
It all began so innocently. I started hanging out with a bad crowd on the intertubes, digging into secret filez about energy wars and government corruption. The Afghan War Logs. The Iraq War Logs. Suddenly I was being called a “WikiLeaks groupie”.
And it was true! Yes, I was revelling in this subversive counter-culture! I was spending hours and hours on my computer, chatting with other “groupies”, posting my findings on Twitter, writing up stories the media was ignoring and governments didn’t want people to know. I began writing for WikiLeaks Central and even got re-tweeted by Mr. @wikileaks himself – an intoxicating high for a crazy, deluded cyber-hippy like myself.
It was just a fashionable thing, obviously. It would have passed soon enough, I’m sure. But then along came CableGate, with over 250,000 secret US diplomatic cables just begging to be investigated. How could I walk away now? Ignoring my wife’s futile pleas, I launched myself into the adventure like an alcoholic diving into a beer-filled swimming pool. Alas!
The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) is bound to come under pressure to scrap its decision of outsourcing its work in the UK to a private security company after the WikiLeaks revealed that Interior Minister Rehman Malik had offered the US all the records of the Nadra.
A leaked confidential US diplomatic cable reveals that the US Embassy in Jakarta believed the 2007 gubernatorial election won by Fauzi Bowo had been “rigged” by the capital’s elites.
The cable, dated April 25, 2007, ahead of the election, was among the unredacted cables released by WikiLeaks over the past week. It is believed to have been written by the then-deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy, John Heffern.
1. Embassy was approached by two advisors to National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate John Atta-Mills, Edward Nunoo and Sylvanos Tamakloe, who told Political Office that Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman Kwadwo Afari-Gyan was being pressured by the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) to announce false results that would be supplied by the NPP. The EC Chairman told Ambassador that the allegations were “utter nonsense.” #WIKILEAKS
The Guardian doesn’t “get” openness when it suits their purpose
The latest release of leaked diplomatic cables by the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks has revealed some persons around the Presidency have tried to use their influence to manipulate control of the country’s oil resources for their personal gain.
When Nepal’s controversial king Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah handed over power to a resurrected parliament on April 24, 2006 and faced the abolition of his throne, it might not have been entirely the thought of his subjects’ wellbeing that prompted the move.
A diplomatic cable leaked by Wikileaks reveals that entertainment industry groups and law enforcement combined their efforts to infiltrate Warez Scene topsites. One of the strategies they discuss during a 2009 meeting is to have an informant leak music before the official release date, to gain trust of the site’s operator and gain access to the highly secured Scene servers.
Attorney general says authorities have no plans to prosecute WikiLeaks founder, despite claims that unredacted embassy cables reveal identity of Australian intelligence officer
The chief minister of India’s Uttar Pradesh state sent an empty private jet to get a pair of sandals from Mumbai, leaked US diplomatic cables say.
In Indonesia, the national police are discovered to be using a hard-line Islamic group as its hidden “attack dog.” In Indonesia, octogenarian Singaporean founder Lee Kuan Yew calls Islam a “venomous religion”. In Malaysia, UMNO leaders are “willing to blacken Malaysia’s reputation to ensure the end to opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s political challenge.”
Latvian national airline airBaltic cancelled its plans to begin flights between Riga and the Iranian capital Tehran in 2010 after pressure from the United States, according to confidential cables by U.S. diplomats released by “WikiLeaks”.
When policymakers are asked to name the terrorist breeding grounds that keep them up at night, they’re likely to mention Pakistan’s tribal areas, southern Afghanistan, or Yemen. Sunny Jamaica doesn’t usually make the list. But one 2010 cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Kingston warned that the country “potentially presents fertile ground for those who might commit acts of violence in the name of Islamist extremism.”
MANILA, Philippines – The Vatican pressured the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) not to support protests calling for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2005, a US embassy cable released by anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks revealed.
The 2,000-strong private army of a powerful clan suspected of carrying out the Philippines’ worst political massacre was better armed than the military and police, leaked US embassy cables showed.
People must seek to protect not only WikiLeaks, but also the mechanism by which the information enters into our purview.
A leaked US diplomatic cable says that “hundreds” of former employees of Blackwater, which was barred from Iraq over a deadly 2007 shooting, later worked with other firms guarding US diplomats here.
Iraq announced in January 2009 that it would not renew Blackwater’s operating licence due to a September 16, 2007 incident in which guards protecting a US diplomatic convoy opened fire in Baghdad’s busy Nisur Square, killing at least 14 civilians.
This capital city’s skies were clogged with pollution, as is often the case, and China’s government was concerned. So it summoned officials of the US embassy to a meeting.
But the session had nothing to do with hazy skies. Rather, Chinese officials were peeved that the Americans were monitoring pollution themselves, and posting their more precise findings, which usually judged the smog far worse than official Chinese readings, on Twitter for anyone to read.
As gut-wrenching as it will be for Labor MPs to dispatch their second prime minister in a row, and to suffer all the bad jokes and gibes – including mine of Australia becoming the Italy of the Pacific, with four prime ministers in four years (Howard, Rudd, Gillard and Rudd?) – they have little choice. Gillard has shown she is not up to the job. Wayne Swan, who will also have to go when Gillard does, has described her as tough as nails. He’s right. One problem. Tough does not equal smart. She has made too many mistakes and shown a worrying inability to learn from any of them. Under her, Labor has fallen to its lowest levels ever.
WikiLeaks has published a US Embassy cable that says former President Jerry John Rawlings uses drugs and his finance minister at that time was alarmingly incompetent.
The ripple effects of the financial crisis continue to take their toll on banks, as reckless lending during the bonanza years catches up to them. Friday after the closing bell, and ahead of a Labor Day weekend, the Federal Housing Finance Agency confirmed it was suing 17 different financial institutions for misrepresenting the quality of mortgage backed securities sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Weeks after Eileen P. Rominger left Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), she took the helm of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s investment management division as one of the wealthiest people to ever join the agency.
Rominger reported $57.5 million in income from New York- based Goldman Sachs in a financial disclosure form covering 2010 and 2011. She also reported making $2.3 million to $13.2 million in investment income since the start of 2010.
Over the past several years, the Justice Department has increasingly attempted to criminalize what is clearly protected political speech by prosecuting numerous individuals (Muslims, needless to say) for disseminating political views the government dislikes or considers threatening. The latest episode emerged on Friday, when the FBI announced the arrest and indictment of Jubair Ahmad, a 24-year-old Pakistani legal resident living in Virginia, charged with “providing material support” to a designated Terrorist organization (Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)).
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Summary: News of interest about patents that relate to Novell and harm GNU/Linux or Free software
NOVELL’S patents are a ticking time bomb that can basically be used by foes of Linux at any time. Software patents are without exception a bad thing, including all of IBM’s, Google’s, and Red Hat’s. As long as patents can be passed around as though they are a property, there is no telling who is going to ‘own’ them in their whole 20-year lifespan.
As FT reminds us in this new article, the prices of patents — including Novell’s — seem high because these are increasingly being used to block competition:
As we suggested a few weeks ago, the high prices bid recently for patents from Novell and Nortel will have prompted many others to dust off their IP portfolios. Since then, Eastman Kodak’s shares have bounced on news that it has begun seeking a buyer for some of its patents and Motorola Mobility has sold at a huge premium to Google.
Google has basically raised the perceived value of patents, helped legitimise some patents, and it did not even achieve all that much given that its foes are now using patent trolls like MOSAID as proxies. Mind the fact that pro-Microsoft, anti-Android lobbyist Florian Müller has sent me 20 un-responded dents in Identi.ca. this afternoon, trying to heckle me while justifying consulting services to patent trolls (perhaps his clients).
The issue here is not just Microsoft or even Apple; it is the law that they are exploiting and exploring in an attempt to ban or tax the competition, to the point where they can win not based on merit but based on market distortion. Rather than good programmers competing against one another, the competition is being passed to parasitical patent lawyers and lobbyists. No wonder the economy is doing so poorly with high unemployment rates and monopolistic billionaires who grow richer than ever before (they use patent monopolies).
Watch this new gem about Novell and a patent troll:
LL: There’s a famous re-exam petition involving Roger Billings. He tried to enter a licensing deal with Novell. The company sent in about 600 pages of what they claimed as prior art. But only one pertained to Billings
Instead of producing 600 pages of so-called “prior art” (a cause of nature), one could just produce 60,000 lines of good code that actually achieves something. Too much money is being drained in courtrooms, feeding a meta-industry that serves almost nobody except itself. Politicians too are basically being trained in the art of arguing and as long as they manage to engage with a dialogue against another side — no matter if they win the argument or not — they bill someone at the sidelines. Sadly, almost all politicians are lawyers or former businessmen. Is this the vision and future that we want? What about the billionaires who use those confrontations to marginalise competition too fearful of being sued because it cannot bear the legal costs?
Well, as we mentioned before, we are hopeful that there will be some real patent reform in the United States as a new antitrust chief turned out to have been involved in the CPTN fiasco:
Pozen joined the Antitrust Division in February 2009 as chief of staff and counsel. She was the lead antitrust lawyer in the CPTN/Novell case, which involved a group of tech firms including Microsoft and Apple being forced to license old Novell patents to the open-source community.
How about defanging them in all cases? Ensuring that Apple and Microsoft cannot abuse the patent system as they do to harm Linux? Pozen is smart enough to see the antitrust violations here, especially by Microsoft. █
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Summary: Bad signs appear as Attachmate puts SUSE aside but continues to ‘hoard’ UNIX rights, dissociating one’s importance to the other
ATTACHMATE has been ensuring that it can maintain its status as a proprietary software company. Executives who were committed to a different agenda were mostly removed, expelled, or simply left. Mono developers were fired without exception and SUSE was relocated and relegated to Germany, where developers are now dependent on funding from Microsoft. What is actually left in Attachmate which is “open source”? Even Vibe was axed as we had predicted all along; it was in part based on Free software from Google (Wave).
Attachmate, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, is putting new people in charge and the Deccan Herald (insisting on just Internet Explorer or Netscape even in 2011) speaks about the spinoff called SUSE, which is basically partly funded by Microsoft now (to help put Microsoft tax on GNU/Linux servers). Attachmate is also the ‘owner’ of early UNIX copyrights, according to this latest report which adds:
“Novell’s board of directors adopted a resolution approving the sale, which specifically mentioned the copyrights were to be retained by Novell,” the judges said in the opinion.
This was the second time the appeals court ruled on this case. In the first appeal it reversed a lower-court ruling in Novell’s favor and sent the case back. After a two-week trial, the jury ruled Novell owned the copyrights. SCO appealed.
A spokeswoman for Linden, Utah-based SCO, Chantell Ferrin, didn’t immediately reply to messages seeking comment.
There is also a derailed analysis behind an apparent paywall at Lexology. We are still not sure what Attachmate will do with these copyrights. It is not as though the company has any commitment to Free software or to UNIX. Given the amount of time and money Novell has invested in this case, it is rather unlikely that UNIX will just be left there to rot and bring no revenue to Attachmate, even if through a sale. Unlike Novell, Attachmate has no need to keep up appearance and keep UNIX away from enemies of Linux. Will these be sold to IBM maybe? Or perhaps to some foe of Red Hat? This is a question that has generally bothered us since 2007 and we wrote about it many times before. We must pay attention to Attachmate’s actions and statements. █
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Summary: A post-Attachmate acquisition Novell and the former CEO’s remark about employee arrogance
IT was just under a year ago that Novell seemed destined to be sold. The sale was assured a few months later and the acquisition closed about 4-5 months ago, whereupon many employees were let loose. Ron Hovsepian lost his job after he had failed to fulfil his role as CEO and only 4 years after shaking Steve Ballmer’s hand a company with over 4,000 employees became more or less liquidated, with its patents being passed to Microsoft and some of its staff being absorbed inside Attachmate.
Now that an unemployment epidemic strikes the West, reports give this personal account of a formal Novell employee:
The numbers didn’t fall fast enough for Robert Ahlstrom. He spent four years working for the software company Novell – one of Provo Utah’s most prominent businesses. Novell laid off more than 800 people in May, sending shockwaves through the city.
“My boss, he called me into the office and told me: ‘You’re one of the people that’s gonna be laid off,’” Robert says.
Robert says he’s lucky – he’s getting severance pay. Now he spends his days looking for work — and working on his baseball swing.
In last week’s news we also found former Novell staff and former advisors finding themselves in other companies. former Novell CEO Eric Schmidt is quoted as saying some interesting things:
On lessons learned from working at Sun and Novell: “What happens when you’re in a successful company is you develop a certain kind of arrogance.” There’s always someone who can undercut you with a cheaper machine that works just as well. At Google, they understand this, because most of their price lists start at “Free.”
Several years ago we wrote about that particular arrogance that harmed Novell. A columnist at IDG wrote a column about it.
It is valuable to learn about people who are leaving the company or got laid off as it often provides insight into the internal issues. Consider this other new report which says:
Burnham joins Ogletree after seven years in-house at Novell Inc., where she most recently served as vice president of global employment law.
Employment at Novell or Attachmate is perhaps not much of a priority now. As we recently pointed out, Novell products are currently being decommissioned if not improperly maintained. It is unlikely that Novell-affiliated people or products will ever grow. Right now all the ‘juice’ that’s left in Novell is merely being squeezed out, starting with those patents Novell gave to Microsoft through CPTN. What a waste and what a predictable mess. Novell oughtn’t have gone into Microsoft’s bed in the first place; it had a fine desktop distribution with major clients, but it blew it all away, so Canonical won. It ought to be added that all those Mono developers who got laid off are not really visible in that startup called Xamarin. It seems like a non-starter. Their business model is providing Microsoft-esque services or products to developers and users who are trying to distance themselves from Microsoft and its platform. Similarly, Novell was trying to offer a Microsoft-flavoured GNU/Linux to companies and individuals whose goal was to get rid of Microsoft. █
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