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Links 4/12/2012: Tiny PengPod is Coming, More Games Coming to GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 10:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • How open source is outliving the hype 13 years later

    Open source as a buzzword has lost much of its buzz. It’s not quite as dead as “SOA,” but it’s definitely been supplanted by today’s favorites: the Cloud, Mobile, and Big Data. Open source’s demise as a hype label was inevitable—it’s hard to fake giving away your software for free (although there were more than a few companies over the years that were called out for being “faux-open source” with their freemium models or commercial licenses to the code).

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Comment: OpenOffice’s Tale of Two Cities

      Failure in Freiburg, success in Munich. Experiences with open source software in the public sector couldn’t be more different. If there’s a lesson to be drawn from this, it’s “go the whole hog or not at all”.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • DARPA Project Using LLVM For Better Code Security

      A software research project being funded by the United States’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with its Cyber Fast Track program is looking at ways for providing a flexible and integrated security infrastructure by using LLVM for dynamic and static security tasks.


  • Making the web more accessible for people with disabilities
  • Dear journalists: grow up

    Please stop saying “This is the thin end of the wedge. Once legislation is introduced, it will grow.” You are possibly the best informed and, if not the most powerful, certainly the most vocal lobby in this country. It’s not like additional legislation will slip past you.

    Please stop saying “There is already adequate protection in the law.” You know full well this protection is only available to those with money, time, knowhow and connections. I was having a beer with a buddy last night, who used to work in the tabloid press. He tells me that the single deciding factor in running or not running a less than well founded story is usually the subject’s financial ability to sue.

    Please stop saying “We are special. We perform a vital public service. We should be protected.” The same applies to doctors, pharma companies, lawyers, police, farmers, the fire service, pilots. They are all, quite rightly, regulated. A badly put together article might leave me dissatisfied. A badly put together gas boiler can leave me dead. The imposition of professional standards in a fact of modern life.

    Please stop saying “We have already changed. It will be different this time.” You sound like a recalcitrant abusive alcoholic begging his wife in hospital not to press charges.

  • Two examples why we don’t need the draft Communications Data Bill
  • Don’t Promise $1 Million For Your Lost Laptop Via YouTube & Twitter If You’re Not Prepared To Pay

    The Hollywood Reporter has the somewhat amusing cautionary tale of why you shouldn’t use various social media tools to make promises you can’t back up. Hip hop/R&B artist Ryan Leslie apparently lost his laptop recently while on tour in Germany. He then went on YouTube and posted a video offering $20,000 if anyone returned the laptop. He noted that the laptop contained music and videos that he wanted back. Another video was posted later with a message that reads: “In the interest of retrieving invaluable intellectual property contained on his laptop and hard drive, Mr. Leslie has increased the reward offer from $20,000 USD to $1,000,000 USD. He also tweeted the same info directly, saying: “I raised the reward for my intellectual property to $1mm.”

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WPEA Signed into Law, Protecting Federal Food Safety Employees

      Today, the Government Accountability Project’s (GAP) Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) is praising President Obama for signing into law the strongest federal whistleblower protections in history. The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) passed the House of Representatives in late September and the Senate earlier this month. This long overdue legislation overturns many loopholes and provides critically important upgrades to weak, current protections.

      This law’s enactment plays a significant role in food safety oversight, as it better protects those workers charged with enforcing food safety laws – including U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinarians and inspectors, as well as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) employees. Over the past several years, FIC has heard from countless federal whistleblowers who desperately want to expose food industry wrongdoing or threats to public health, but chose to stay silent for fear that existing whistleblower protections will not effectively shield them from retaliation.

    • The Toxic Legacy of Depleted Uranium Weapons

      We all should be aware of the dangers posed by the world’s stockpile of nuclear weapons. The eight countries known to possess nuclear weapons have 10,000 plus nuclear warheads. And, especially post-Fukushima, we now understand firsthand the potential danger of nuclear power plants, many which are aging and highly vulnerable to natural disasters. As of August 2012, 30 countries are operating 435 nuclear reactors for electricity generation. Sixty-six new nuclear plants are under construction in 14 countries.

      But how many of us know about the current manufacturing and active use of depleted uranium (DU) weapons? DU (Uranium 238) is a radioactive waste by-product of the uranium enrichment process. It results from making fuel for nuclear reactors and the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.

      In a frightening adaptation of the “Cradle to Cradle” philosophy in manufacturing, which seeks to use waste in the manufacturing process to create other “useful” products, militaries around the world have come up with the “brilliant” idea of taking DU and making “conventional” weapons with it.

    • Meet Monsanto’s number one lobbyist: Barack Obama

      During his 2008 campaign for president, Barack Obama transmitted signals that he understood the GMO issue. Several key anti-GMO activists were impressed. They thought Obama, once in the White House, would listen to their concerns and act on them.

      These activists weren’t just reading tea leaves. On the campaign trail, Obama said: “Let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.”

      Making the distinction between GMO and non-GMO was certainly an indication that Obama, unlike the FDA and USDA, saw there was an important line to draw in the sand.

      Beyond that, Obama was promising a new era of transparency in government. He was adamant in promising that, if elected, his administration wouldn’t do business in “the old way.” He would be “responsive to people’s needs.”

      Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/037310_Barack_Obama_Monsanto_lobbyist.html#ixzz2Dv0TB5GX

    • The Day I Blundered Into The Nuclear Facility

      I am at a loss to explain how, even in the 60′s or 70′s, an unsupervised kid was able to walk into anyplace where one could see Cherenkov radiation with their own eyes, at such a short distance. I understand that water is a good radiation shield, and don’t believe that I received any significant radiation exposure. This experience left me, for my lifetime, more sanguine than the average person regarding radiation hazards.

    • Your Couch May Be Killing You
    • Where oil and gas development goes, health problems often follow.
    • Tax the Rich, Take Your Hands Off Medicare: Overwhelming US Majority
  • Security

    • The Woman Behind CryptoParty

      In August, the Australian Parliament passed a new cybercrime bill that increased the powers of law enforcement to require Internet service providers to monitor and store their users’ data.

      The country’s privacy advocates were up in arms. One of them was Asher Wolf (a pseudonym), a 32-year-old who had built up a following on Twitter for tweeting news about WikiLeaks and the Occupy movement and who cared deeply about online privacy. A friend of hers, @m1k3y, tweeted that in light of the new legislation, maybe now was the time to have an “install-the-crypto-apps party,” referring to the programs for computers that help protect a user’s privacy. Wolf half-jokingly agreed: “Let’s get together in the backyard with some chips,” she said, “let’s have a CryptoParty.”

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Cablegate

    • The Wikileaks, Julian Assange Diplomatic Standoff — Animated
    • Whistleblower’s treatment exposes dark side of Obama

      OVER the past 2½ years, all of which he has spent in a military prison, much has been said about Bradley Manning, but nothing has been heard from him. That changed late last week, when the 23-year-old US army private, who is accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, testified at his court martial about the conditions of his detention.
      The oppressive, borderline-torturous measures he endured, including prolonged solitary confinement and forced nudity, have been known for some time. A formal UN investigation denounced them as ”cruel and inhuman”. President Barack Obama’s State Department spokesman, retired air force colonel P.J. Crowley, resigned after condemning Manning’s treatment. A prison psychologist testified last week that Manning’s conditions were more damaging than those found on death row, or at Guantanamo Bay.

    • Quantico Psychiatrist: Military’s Mistreatment of Pfc. Manning ‘Unprecedented’

      The government psychiatrist charged with evaluating Pfc. Bradley Manning during his early detention at the military brig at Quantico told the judge at a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday that his recommendations for the Manning’s treatment were repeatedly ignored by the Marine guard unit responsible for him.

    • Two Years of Cablegate and Bradley Manning Still Awaits Trial

      Thursday, November 29th, Bradley Manning testified for the first time since his arrest two and a half years ago in Baghdad. Today also marks the two-year anniversary of the first front pages around the world from Cablegate, an archive of 251,287 U.S. State Department diplomatic cables — messages sent between the State Department and its embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions around the world. In collaboration with a network of more than 100 press outlets we revealed the full spectrum of techniques used by the United States to exert itself around the world. The young intelligence analyst Bradley Manning was detained as an alleged source.

    • WikiLeaks suspect’s guards describe him crying in jail

      FORT MEADE, United States / Maryland: Two of WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning’s former prison guards have denied abusing him in custody, and described an incident in which the US Army private suddenly burst into tears.

    • Why the WikiLeaks Grand Jury is So Dangerous: Members of Congress Now Want to Prosecute New York Times Journalists Too

      For more than a year now, EFF has encouraged mainstream press publications like the New York Times to aggressively defend WikiLeaks’ First Amendment right to publish classified information in the public interest and denounce the ongoing grand jury investigating WikiLeaks as a threat to press freedom.

    • Bradley Manning: Prisoners of conscience

      Obama said that Manning’s treatment was “appropriate and meeting our basic standards.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Tax paid by some global firms in UK ‘an insult’
    • Students Seize Cooper Union Room to Protest Possible Tuition

      Twelve students barricaded themselves inside an eighth-floor room at the top of the Cooper Union Foundation Building at noon on Monday to urge the school not to begin charging tuition to undergraduates.

    • Dollar-Less Iranians Discover Virtual Currency

      Under sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies, dollars are hard to come by in Iran. The rial fell from 20,160 against the greenback on the street market in August to 36,500 rials to the dollar in October. It’s settled, for now, around 27,000. The central bank’s fixed official rate is 12,260. Yet there’s one currency in Iran that has kept its value and can be used to purchase goods from abroad: bitcoins, the online-only currency.

    • Morgan Stanley Trader Faces Inquiry on Possible Manipulation

      On paper, Glenn Hadden seemed to be the ideal person to run a large bond trading operation at Morgan Stanley when he was hired in early 2011. Mr. Hadden, a former Goldman partner, was one of the most profitable bond traders on Wall Street.

      But there was more to his story than just stellar financial results. He had left his previous employer, Goldman Sachs, after questions about his trading activity. And now, Mr. Hadden is under investigation over his trading in Treasury futures while at Goldman, according to a regulatory filing.

    • 9 Greedy CEOs Trying to Shred the Safety Net While Pigging Out on Corporate Welfare
    • Mark Carney’s ‘shock’ appointment means more of the same

      Today the chancellor confirmed that there will be no real change at the Bank of England. There will be no change to the Treasury and Bank of England’s obsession with inflation targeting and “price stability”. Above all, he confirmed that there will be no reining-in of the banks; that banks will not be re-structured – to separate the retail and investment arms, and ensure that banks are no longer too big to fail.

    • It’s a Great Time To Be a Banker in America

      Matt Yglesias passes along this remarkable chart from Morgan Stanley’s Adam Parker showing that 88 percent of all the profit growth in the S&P 500 this year has been concentrated in ten firms in a grand total of two industries: technology and finance. In particular, seven of the ten firms are financial companies. Keep this firmly in mind the next time some Wall Street titan complains yet again that Obama hates banks and is out to destroy them. This is not a sign that Obama has done anything serious to hurt the financial industry; it’s a sign that America’s bankers are comically thin-skinned whiners.

    • Shameless Disaster Capitalism: How Companies Are Already Planning to Get Rich Off Superstorm Sandy
    • Israel halts Palestinian tax transfer over UN bid

      Israel will not transfer tax and tariff funds its collects for the Palestinians this month in response to their successful bid for upgraded UN status, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Sunday.

    • Sen. Sanders: Wall Street CEOs are the ‘Faces of Class Warfare’

      Incredulous that Wall Street investment bankers and billionaire CEOs have descended on Washington in the midst of ongoing budget talks to tell Americans that they should “lower their expectations” when it comes to the security of their retirement and future health care, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor Thursday to call out the audacity of corporate-minded millionaires and billionaires, calling them the new “face of class warfare” in the United States.

      “I find it literally beyond comprehension, that we have folks from Wall Street who received huge bailouts from the people of our country—from working families in this country—because of the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior, which Wall Street did to drive us into this recession, and now these very same people are coming here to Congress to lecture us and the American people about how we have to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid while they enjoy huge salaries and retirement benefits.”

    • Publicly auditing debts owed to the UK

      It seems outrageous that powerful, ruthless “vulture funds” can threaten action which may result in “an end to Argentina’s recovery” and a fresh round of turmoil in the global financial market (Comment, 26 November). Another aspect is the legitimacy of debt incurred by regimes that are not democratically elected. If an individual borrows vast sums of money and spends it on the high life and doesn’t repay it in their lifetime, it is right that creditors can use the law to go after all the funds and assets of the estate. It would not be right if they could use the law to go after the children and grandchildren of the debtor, forcing them to live in penury to pay back money they did not borrow nor benefit from. It seems the same logic applies when vast sums are borrowed by a corrupt dictator and the citizens of the country are forced to pay back the debt.

    • Greeks turn to the forests for fuel as winter nears

      It is early Sunday. The sun has barely risen above the chestnut forest that lies somewhere near the crest of Mount Pelion, but loggers’ pick-up trucks are already streaming through the muddy slush, their cargo bouncing in the back. Theirs are rich pickings, much in demand as winter envelopes the villages and towns of an increasingly poverty-stricken Greece. As they pass, they do not look up because many do not have permits to do what they have just done.

    • Who Really Crashed the Economy?

      In case it’s necessary to remind people, our economy plunged due to the collapse of a Wall Street-fueled housing bubble. The loss of demand from the collapse of the housing bubble both led to a jump in the unemployment rate from which we have still not fully recovered and also the large deficits of the last five years.

      Prior to collapse of the bubble, the budget deficits were quite modest. In 2007 the deficit was just 1.7 percent of GDP, a level that can be sustained indefinitely. Furthermore, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the deficits would remain small for the near future, with the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts in 2011 projected to push the budget into surplus.

      The reason that we suddenly got large deficits was the economic downturn, which caused tax revenue to plummet and increased spending on programs such as unemployment insurance. We also had temporary measures that included tax cuts such as the payroll tax holiday and various spending programs that further raised the deficit.

    • Offshore secrets revealed: the shadowy side of a booming industry

      A worldwide research effort in collaboration with BBC Panorama and the ICIJ reveals the people behind these anonymous companies

    • City of London Corporation: ‘last rotten borough’ faces calls for reform

      A campaign to radically reform and open up the secretive workings of the powerful local authority governing the City of London has been launched by a diverse group whose supporters include activists from the Occupy movement, clerics and the Tory MP David Davis.

    • McJobs Should Pay, Too: Inside Fast-Food Workers’ Historic Protest For Living Wages

      As low-wage service jobs become the new normal for millions of families, we should rethink the balance of power between fast-food workers and their corporations

    • 10 Corporations That Still Get New Government Contracts, Despite Alleged Misconduct

      The EPA surprised quite a few people on Wednesday when it announced sanctions on BP related to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. BP won’t be allowed to get any new government contracts until it cleans up its act, the agency said.

      This was announced in a short press release that wasn’t really very specific about what that penalty means in practice. It could bar the company from new contracts for as long as 18 months—and potentially longer, if there are ongoing legal proceedings against the company. And it’s not just BP’s Gulf of Mexico affiliate—this suspension applies to all of BP’s affiliates, barring the company from billions of dollars in potential future contracts.

    • MI6 told agent they could not kill al-Qaeda leader

      MI6 passed up an opportunity to kill a senior leader of al-Qaeda because lawyers advised them they would be breaking the law, it can be disclosed.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Access to private net, phone use up by 20% – without warrants

      AUSTRALIAN law enforcement and government agencies have sharply increased their access without warrant to vast quantities of private telephone and internet data, prompting new calls for tighter controls on surveillance powers.

    • The Government is Profiling You
    • Mediator Joins Contentious Effort to Add a ‘Do Not Track’ Option to Web Browsing

      Over the last few months, an international effort to give consumers more control over the collection of their online data has devolved into acrimonious discussions, name-calling and witch hunts.

    • Assange: Google, Facebook run “side projects” for US spooks

      …nations now posses “turnkey totalitarianism”.

    • Senate committee takes an important step towards protecting your inbox

      In the wake of former CIA Director David Petraeus’ sex scandal—uncovered largely through the disclosure of explicit e-mails between him and his mistress—the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a new amendment to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act on Wednesday.

      The bill as it stands now (PDF) would require a warrant by law enforcement agencies before they can go digging through e-mail, social networking posts, and other data stored on cloud-based services. If it passes both houses of Congress and is signed by the president, it would mark an important shift in privacy protection for electronic communications. As we’ve reported for some time now, those protections (or lack thereof) are woefully out of date.

    • What does your cyber signature say about you?

      Changing the behaviour of citizens to reduce the demand placed on public services is now a top priority for both central and local government. From voting or volunteering more, to simply accessing council services online, new habits must be developed to meet the financial challenges the government faces.

      With direct human-to-human contact being replaced with human-to-screen interaction, local government websites have a central role to play in delivering that change in behaviour. But behaviour change is fundamentally a soft skilll; you do it with emotions, not excel spreadsheets. So how do you put the human back into that virtual relationship?

    • City Is Amassing Trove of Cellphone Logs

      When a cellphone is reported stolen in New York, the Police Department routinely subpoenas the phone’s call records, from the day of the theft onward. The logic is simple: If a thief uses the phone, a list of incoming and outgoing calls could lead to the suspect.

    • Video: NSA Whistleblower William Binney Explains How All Americans are Under Gov. Surveillance
  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • The Internet Isn’t Broken; So Why Is The ITU Trying To ‘Fix’ It?

      We’ve been talking about the ITU’s upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) for a while now, and it’s no longer “upcoming.” Earlier today, the week and a half session kicked off in Dubai with plenty of expected controversy. The US, the EU and now Australia have all come out strongly against the ITU’s efforts to undermine the existing internet setup to favor authoritarian countries or state-controlled (or formerly state-controlled) telcos who want money for internet things they had nothing to do with. The BBC article above has a pretty good rundown of some of the scarier proposals being pitched behind closed doors at WCIT. Having the US, EU and Australia against these things is good, but the ITU works on a one-vote-per-country system, and plenty of other countries see this as a way to exert more control over the internet, in part to divert funds from elsewhere into their own coffers.

    • The Real Threat to Internet Freedom Isn’t the United Nations

      This article arises from Future Tense, a joint effort of Arizona State University, the New America Foundation, and Slate that looks at emerging technologies and their implications for policy and for society. On Thursday, Nov. 29, Future Tense will host an event in Washington, D.C., on the future of Internet governance. To learn more and to RSVP, visit the New America Foundation’s website. The event will also be streamed live.

      The Internet is often seen as a place of chaos and disorder, a borderless world in which anonymous trolls roam free and vigilante hackers wreak havoc. But as a crucial United Nations conference on the future of telecommunications looms next week, there are fears governments are secretly maneuvering to restructure and rein in the anarchic Web we have come to know and love, perhaps even ushering in a new era of pervasive surveillance. So just how real is the threat of change and what might it mean?

    • Former spy chief says U.S. has had its cyber ’9/11 warning’

      The United States faces “the cyber equivalent of the World Trade Center attack” unless urgent action is taken, a former U.S. intelligence chief warns.
      John “Mike” McConnell, who served as director of the National Security Agency under President Clinton and then as director of National Intelligence under George W. Bush and President Obama, told the Financial Times (subscription required) that such an attack would cripple the nation’s banking system, power grid, and other essential infrastructure.

    • Julian Assange: The Web can create revolutions — or jail revolutionaries
    • Tales of the Unexpected: the Communications Data Bill

      We await with interest the report from the joint committee on the draft Communications Data Bill, and trust the committee has properly considered the substantial evidence submitted. The debate is hotting up, with Theresa May pitching hard in the Sun.

      We are very interested to see if the Committee took a look at the submission by Caspar Bowden on page 102 of the written evidence highlighting the testimony given by Peter Davies (Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre), in support of the draft Bill. Mr Davies gave an example of a murder case in Lincolnshire in which increased data retention could have helped.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Editorial: NZ must not settle for less than golden deal on TPP

      Auckland has seldom hosted a more globally important meeting than the nine days of negotiations that start today on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
      The TPP offers the most promising advance of free trade since the failure of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha round. Regional free trade treaties are a poor substitute for a global agreement but when they are based on the same principles and open to all countries that can meet their standards, they are the next best thing.

    • Copyrights

      • How the Hobbit dispute was used to justify curbs to the actors’ union

        Guardian readers may have followed the industrial dispute that played out in New Zealand over The Hobbit. This dispute arose because a union of performers (Equity) sought to exercise its members’ internationally recognised rights to collectively bargain. It was nothing more and nothing less. What played out was an unexpected journey of misrepresentation, led partly by the Hollywood studio Warner Brothers, but particularly by the New Zealand government.

      • Congressional group briefly opens up on radical copyright reform, then takes it back

        Open source software licenses and copyright law have a complex relationship. People often say that open source turns copyright on its head and loosely refer to open source licenses as “copyleft” licenses. Indeed, the idea of a license that grants perpetual rights to copy, modify, and distribute a work—and requires licensees to attach the same terms to any downstream work—certainly feels like the antithesis of copyright law’s protectionist character.

        Yet open source licenses (in their current forms) rely on copyright law. Copyright law supplies the bundle of statutory rights that empower the “keep it open” requirement of an open source license. Without copyright law, an author would have to find another legal theory to prevent others from, for example, taking a developer’s code and hiding it behind technological walls. And what do you sue for when someone violates the terms of an open source license? Copyright infringement (among other things).

      • PromoBay block

        Reports from TorrentFreak that the legitimate website PromoBay.org is being blocked by several UK ISPs highlights some of the problems with website blocking as a strategy and practice.

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    The EPO's longstanding fight against justice escalates to an unprecedented war on lawyers themselves; “After this latest move,” says a German newspaper, “even lawyers are starting to feel threatened by the Office.”

  26. Washington Post Only Entertains Debate About Patent Trolls (But Not Patent Scope) Whilst US Lawyers Trick the System to Patent Software

    The Bezos-owned Washington Post continues to help those who wish to eliminate patent trolls (which bother Amazon amongst other large conglomerates) but remains void of any coverage about patent scope, including software patents that patent lawyers work so hard to defend

  27. It Pays (Off) to 'Bribe' the Media: Watch How Les Échos Covers EPO Matters and Self-Censors

    French newspaper Les Échos is self-censoring yet again and it is framing the EPO scandals as the fault of employees, not the fault of abusive managers who are working with Les Échos as a so-called 'media partner' (the EPO management is French-dominated)

  28. 'Leaked' PDF Shows How EPO Management Tried to Crush Judge Who 'Dared' to Criticise EPO Management

    The EPO's management continues to chill potential critics and is now making an example of a board's judge, despite having no such authority over him

  29. Links 21/11/2015: Community Appreciation Day, Jolla's Problems

    Links for the day

  30. EPO: It's Like a Family Business - Part III

    A look at how the EPO's management (Željko Topić in particular) defended the unprecedented promotion of Ms Bergot (wife of the president's close assistant), even in the face of outcry from EPO staffwarning


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