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Links 16/12/2012: Wrapping Up 2012, Many Leftover Links

Posted in News Roundup at 12:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[I will be away until after Xmas]

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • A Pillar Of The Indian FOSS Community, Raj Mathur, Passes Away

    Raj Mathur (aka OldMonk), one of the leading figures of the Indian FOSS (free and open source software) community, passed away on 12.12.12. The cause of his death was a massive heart attack. This is the second major loss for the Indian FOSS world another notable figure, Kenneth Gonsalves passed away in August this year.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla in 2012

        2012 was an incredible year for Mozilla. We mobilized. We did a better job than I have ever seen us do identifying the places where we needed to have impact, and then we focused and delivered. There’s a lot for us all to be proud of in 2012; I’ve gathered up a few of my favourites.

  • Project Releases


  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • China and US hold the key to a new global climate deal
    • Shale gas: a burning carbon issue
    • Texas Energy Institute Head Quits Amid Fracking Study Conflicts

      The head of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin resigned following an investigation that found conflicts of interest in a study on the risks of natural gas drilling.

      Raymond Orbach, 78, resigned as director of the institute last month, the university said in a statement released today. The study’s lead investigator, Charles Groat, 72, also retired from his faculty position, according to the statement.

    • Illegal wildlife trade ‘threatening national security’, says WWF

      Group says organised crime syndicates are ‘outgunning’ governments, leading to sharp rise in elephant and rhino deaths

    • Mother Nature belongs at bargaining table

      Throwing the nation over the climate cliff will make our current fiscal challenges look like a minor bump in the road.

      As the highly scripted stagecraft of the presidential campaign fades from the headlines, there’s a new show in Washington. ”Fiscal Cliff” stars President Barack Obama, who urges Republicans and Democrats to agree on a ”grand bargain” that would soften the economic shock of the impending across-the-board tax and spending cuts. But that bipartisan handshake would be nothing to celebrate.

    • Fracking for shale gas gets green light in UK

      The government has lifted restrictions on the controversial practice of fracking, a method of extracting gas from shale rock, giving a green light to drilling that could produce billions of pounds worth of gas.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Saudi-Led Oil Lobby Group Financed Dark Money Attack Ads

      The “American” in American Petroleum Institute, the country’s largest oil lobby group, is a misnomer. As I reported for The Investigative Fund and The Nation in August, the group has changed over the years, and is now led by men like Tofiq Al-Gabsani, a Saudi Arabian national who heads a Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco) subsidiary, the state-run oil company that also helps finance the American Petroleum Institute. Al-Gabsani is also a registered foreign agent for the Saudi government.

  • Censorship

    • India awakes

      This TV program is a breakthrough. CNN IBN, a leading English-language channel, started a campaign for the freedom of Sanal Edamaruku. “Does a rationalist deserve to be jailed for questioning a religious miracle?”, asked firebrand moderator Sargarika Ghose on 4th December in CNN IBN’s flagship program Face the Nation, calling upon the public to take a stand. The response was impressive: people from all walks of life expressed unequivocal support for Sanal, on camera, on twitter and on facebook. The wave keeps running… And 87% of the viewers who participated in a public internet ballot answered the question “Are blasphemy laws out of place in a secular democracy?” with a clear Yes! The blasphemy law should go.

    • Israel must explain targeting of journalists in Gaza

      The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned that Israeli airstrikes targeted individual journalists and media facilities in the Gaza Strip between November 18 and 20. Journalists and media outlets are protected under international law in military conflict.

    • Possible censorship of Putin and Medvedev’s names on Russian television

      Here’s a somewhat curious story: The Russian TV channel NTV showed a performance by the rock band “Leningrad”, which is famous for incorporating many Russian expletives in its lyrics. The expletives were censored by beeping, which is the usual and expected practice, comparable to beeping on words like “fuck” in American TV. The surprise in this performance, however, was that the names of president Putin and prime minister Medvedev, who were mentioned in the song, were censored the same way. The name of the the Church of Christ the Savior, which recently became famous as the stage of Pussy Riot’s notorious performance, was partly censored as well, although the name “Pussy Riot” itself was not censored.

    • Peers vote to remove law banning insulting language
    • ANC tries to muzzle media coverage of leadership conference

      Security will be rigid at the African National Congress’s (ANC) elective conference in Mangaung. Most sessions are closed to the media and the party has said it will use phone-jamming technology to prevent interruptions. Journalists who stray where they shouldn’t will be given short shrift.

    • Son of Anna Politkovskaya criticises murder trial deal for policeman
  • Privacy

    • Heart Gadgets Test Privacy-Law Limits

      A recent swell of digital-medical data collected on devices outside of a doctor’s office is raising some thorny questions: Who owns the rights to a patient’s digital footprint and who should control that information? WSJ’s Linda Blake reports.

      The small box inside Amanda Hubbard’s chest beams all kinds of data about her faulty heart to the company that makes her defibrillator implant.

    • Private By Default

      Depending which browser you’re using, you should see a little lock or some such in the address bar. On the right are readouts from (top down) Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. You can click on that readout to get some information on the privacy/security settings.

  • Civil Rights

  • DRM

    • Sony’s New German Ebookstore Features Thousands Of DRM-Free Books

      DRM is becoming less and less prevalent these days as more companies are realizing that the backlash from crippling the purchases of paying customers far outweighs any perceived prevention of infringement. It’s not a wholesale conversion, but new DRM-free converts are appearing more frequently, including some surprising holdouts.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Are The Old Enablers Becoming The New Gatekeepers?

      We’ve argued, for a long time, that just railing against “middlemen” misses the point. There are always middlemen. But not all middlemen are created equal. The distinction, that we’ve discussed multiple times, is the difference between enablers and gatekeepers. That is, historically, many middlemen came to power because they were gatekeepers. If you wanted to do something — be a musician, write a book, sell a new product — you effectively had to get “approval” and support from a gatekeeper who had access to those markets. Being a gatekeeper gave them enormous power, such that the gatekeepers often became central to the market, rather than the people/companies they were working with and it also allowed them to craft ridiculous deals that were incredibly favorable to themselves, at the expense of those they were working with. That, of course, is why there tends to be so much inherent antipathy towards traditional gatekeepers.

    • Copyrights

      • French Hadopi Scheme Gutted; Other Bad Ideas To Be Introduced Instead

        France’s Hadopi graduated response approach, also known as “three strikes”, occupies a special place in the annals of copyright enforcement. It pioneered the idea of punishing users accused of sharing unauthorized copies of files, largely thanks to pressure from the previous French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, who seems to have hated most aspects of this new-fangled Internet thing. Sadly, other countries took up the idea, including the UK with its awful Digital Economy Act, New Zealand, Spain and, more recently, the US.

        Hadopi hasn’t been going too well. Despite putting out some dodgy statistics, the Hadopi agency hasn’t really been able to show that the three-strike approach is doing anything to reduce the number of unauthorized downloads. In the two years that Hadopi has been running, only one person has been brought to court — and he was innocent, but fined anyway.

      • How Copyright Criminalization Threatens Online Innovation

        I’m excited that my friend Jerry Brito has pulled together an edited collection of copyright reform essays by libertarians (and one from a pair of libertarian-leaning conservatives) called Copyright Unbalanced. Several recent developments have suggested growing sympathy for copyright reform on the political right. Jerry’s book promises to be a handbook for free-market copyright reformers, pointing to some of the most serious problems with the present system and explaining how Republicans could capitalize on public dissatisfaction with the status quo.

      • It’s Not “Getting” Or “Downloading” A Copy. It’s “Making” Or “Manufacturing” One.

        In the political fight for civil liberties and sharing culture, language is everything – which can be observed by the copyright industry’s consistent attempts at name-calling, hoping the bad names will stick legally. Therefore, all our using precise language is paramount for our own future liberties.

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