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01.22.13

Links 22/1/2013: Linux Outpaces Market Share of Windows, Mozilla Phone, Fedora Reviews Aplenty

Posted in News Roundup at 8:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • IF YOU CARE ABOUT FREEDOM, RAMP UP YOUR HAM

    I think it’s interesting how most people who claim to care about freedom don’t have a ham radio (amateur radio) license, especially you folks in open source.

    You reject and rebel against the Monopolists in Redmond and the Fruit Devices from Cupertino recognizing that they are dictating how you will and will not use the thing you are spending all your money on.

  • cbarylick
    The open source movement, marketing and finally saying “Hello” to the mainstream

    It goes without saying that the open source software movement has created some amazing things in the decades it’s been active and running. Where code has been shared, random developers have come up with some great new ideas and features and the open source goal of contribution has achieved its mission.

  • ITA signs agreement with Intel to promote open source software

    In line with ITA’s efforts in spreading a Free and Open Source software culture for the past two years, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in support of the Open Source Intel Global Challenge in Oman was signed here recently between the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and Intel Corporation.

  • Vert.x heading for Eclipse Foundation

    The future home of Vert.x will most likely be at the Eclipse Foundation. Project leader Tim Fox recommended that the JVM-polyglot asynchronous event-driven framework should look to the Eclipse Foundation as a “little more ‘business friendly’” home for the project’s assets and governance. Mike Millinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation, welcomed Fox’s recommendation. A call for a +1/-1 vote from the original Vert.x community, seems so far to be predominantly +1, with no serious objections.

  • Wikipedia is moving

    On the Wikimedia Foundation’s tech blog, Technical Communications Manager Guillaume Paumier has announced that Wikipedia and other services will move from Tampa, Florida to the company’s new primary data centre in Ashburn, Virginia over the coming days. With this move, the company aims to “improve the technical performance and reliability of all Wikimedia sites”. Paumier said that service limitations are expected during the transition: “Our sites will be in read-only mode for some time, and may be intermittently inaccessible.” Migration will begin on 22 January and is scheduled to be completed by 24 January.

  • ITA to support Intel’s Open Source competition
  • Opening up the open source community

    I’ve mentioned the reported decline in Wikipedia contributors, and wondered out loud whether the organization sees the dip as an acceptable price to pay for heightening the standards for content contributions to its open source encyclopedia. “Our No. 1 strategic priority, as a movement,” she continues, tapping the table for emphasis, “is to increase contributorship.”

  • Open Source Computing Brings Everybody’s Favorite Droid To Life

    I think we can all agree that R2-D2 is one of the most lovable robots ever created. Compared to his more terrifying contemporaries, the little guy just oozes charm. Now one man has made his very own R2-D2 using a Raspberry Pi linux computer.

  • CommuniGate Updates Open-Source cPanel Adaptor Kit
  • Twitter’s Whisper Systems now an open source project

    Whisper Systems, the mobile security startup Twitter acquired in late 2011, is now an open source project which has a new official home outside the microblogging service.

  • Events

    • Free Geek provides jobs and free classes to the community

      Here in the District of Columbia, a loosely-knit group comprised of social workers, librarians, technologists, environmentalists, disability rights advocates, and educators has come together in the past few years. This coalition, known as the Broadband Bridge, sees digital justice and digital inclusion as a cornerstone towards self-determination in traditionally underserved communities.

    • Kyle Rankin to Keynote SCALE 11x
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Announces Firefox OS Developer Phone

        Three major players are battling for a spot in the highly competitive smartphone market with their open source operating systems — Jolla, Mozilla and Canonical. While Jolla has some deals to bring their devices to the market, Mozilla has a lead here.

      • Mozilla Announces Firefox OS Developer Phone

        Three major players are battling for a spot in the highly competitive smartphone market with their open source operating systems — Jolla, Mozilla and Canonical. While Jolla has some deals to bring their devices to the market, Mozilla has a lead here.

      • Mozilla Announces Firefox OS Developer Phone

        Three major players are battling for a spot in the highly competitive smartphone market with their open source operating systems — Jolla, Mozilla and Canonical. While Jolla has some deals to bring their devices to the market, Mozilla has a lead here.

      • Announcing the Firefox OS Developer Preview Phone!
      • Mozilla develops Minion security testing framework

        The Mozilla Foundation is developing an open source security framework called Minion and plans to release a beta version in the first quarter of 2013. Minion will allow developers to subject their web applications to a security check. The framework will target applications with well-established pen testing tools such as OWASP’s Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP), Skipfish and NMAP. Further testing tools are planned to be incorporated into the framework as plugins.

      • Mozilla stabilises Firefox 18

        Mozilla has released Firefox 18.0.1, a first update to Firefox 18, which was released ten days ago. According to the release notes, and the lack of any additional entries on the security advisories page, the release is a stability update addressing three issues.

      • Mozilla picks JavaScript titan Eich to lead charge against ‘Droid, iOS

        He’s taking over as Mozilla fights for the hearts and minds of devs who might once have defaulted to Firefox, but are now being dazzled with open-source choices.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • WiFi + USB Drive = Your Own Mini-Internet (Freedom)

      Worried about draconian Internet laws? Creeping surveillance? The inability to share with others without being criminalized? The Internet is still a tool of tremendous power, but a deep rot has set in. We have caught it early and we are fighting to stop this rot, but there are other options we can begin exploring to hedge our bets, enhance our current efforts of fighting against corporate monopolies, and eventually, build an Internet of the people, by the people, for the people – big-telecom monopolies not welcomed.

    • Open Compute Summit: New Members, Technologies

      The Open Compute Project, backed by Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), is gaining momentum, as evidenced by the increasing attendance at the Open Compute Summit. This week, the summit attracted more than 1,900 attendees that were interested in checking out the latest and greatest in Open Compute Project technologies, innovations and products. There has been a bit of buzz about some of the innovations unveiled at the show, and this can only mean good things for the open source cloud computing market.

    • HP Cloud Leader Biri Singh Exits: Should Partners Worry?
  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Six new features coming in LibreOffice 4.0

      It’s hard to believe LibreOffice has only been around about two years, so thoroughly has it come to dominate as the leading free and open source productivity suite, but late last week a release candidate for its next major version appeared.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD And NetBSD Images Available For Raspberry Pi

      FreeBSD and NetBSD are UNIX variants that are known for their stability and performance. If you are using a GNU/Linux distro in Raspberry Pi for sometime, and want to try something new, you can now download these images from the Raspberry Pi site and try them. Make sure you have a 4 gB or more SD card to dd these images into. Also, as they are bleeding edge releases, be sure to expect some bugs and crashes.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Hurd Is Still Moving, Albeit Slowly

      Since last week when writing about the LLVM/Clang compiler being ported to GNU Hurd, readers have asked via the forums, email, etc about the state of this open-source kernel backed by the Free Software Foundation. GNU Hurd and its Mach micro-kernel continue to be developed, just not at a rapid pace like the Linux kernel.

    • The Year in Emacs
    • Gnuaccounting 0.8.2 improves its document management

      Version 0.8.2 of the cross-platform accounting and bookkeeping package Gnuaccounting has been released. The Java-based application supports the creation of invoices, shipping notices and receipts with OpenOffice and LibreOffice and can interface with online banking accounts through FinTS (formerly HBCI) as well as store data in MySQL and PostgreSQL databases.

  • Project Releases

    • OpenCart v1.5.5 released

      OpenCart v1.5.5, a free PHP shopping cart system, released with a lot of new features and fixed issues.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Government tech stakeholders gather at state hackathon

      Great things for open government happened last year on November 15-16 at the 4th annual Capitol Camp event, organized and hosted by the New York State Senate and the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, in collaboration with the Center for Technology in Government.

    • Norway’s municipalities run open source apps from open source cloud

      The Norwegian free software association for municipalities, Friprogforeningen, is starting to offer cloud-based open source applications. This means municipalities can use open source tools such as the Redmine project management and bug-tracking tool and the OTRS service management and helpdesk software, without having to install and maintain the applications. The cloud itself is running free and open source software.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Crowdfunding push for EZ-EV open source electric kit car

      Electrical engineer Gary Krysztopik has been driving his self-built, open-framed, three-wheeled electric “hotrod” on the roads and highways of San Antonio (TX) for over three years now, but folks still can’t help staring as he zooms past. While also working on gas-to-electric conversions (including a VW Bug and a Porsche Carrera), he’s been busy refining and tweaking the design for his “battery box on wheels” and is now preparing to release the EZ-EV car as open source plans, build-it-yourself kits and complete vehicles.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Hiding your research behind a paywall is immoral

        As a scientist your job is to bring new knowledge into the world. Hiding it behind a journal’s paywall is unacceptable

      • For Our Information: Politicians Need To Let Go
      • How M.I.T. Ensnared a Hacker, Bucking a Freewheeling Culture

        The visitor was clever — switching identifications to avoid being blocked by M.I.T.’s security system — but eventually the university believed it had shut down the intrusion, then spent weeks reassuring furious officials at Jstor that the downloading had been stopped.

        [...]

        He described attending two meetings with the chancellor of M.I.T., Eric Grimson. Each time there also was a representative of the general counsel’s office. At both meetings, he said, members of M.I.T.’s legal team assured him and the chancellor that the government had compelled M.I.T. to collect and hand over the material. In that first meeting, he recalled, “I said to the chancellor, ‘Why are you destroying my son?’ He said, ‘We are not.’ ”

      • Carmen Ortiz’s Husband Criticizes Swartz Family For Suggesting Prosecution Of Their Son Contributed To His Suicide

        Dolan has since deleted his entire account after he either came to his senses or someone suggested strongly that he think better of it. While you can understand his desire to defend his wife’s efforts, the tweets aren’t just somewhat offensive following Aaron’s suicide, but misleading as well. To argue that the prosecution was fair because they offered him a 6 month plea deal is complete and utter hogwash. As many have pointed out, it doesn’t appear that Aaron should have been facing any federal charges at all. The 35 years is completely relevant, because that’s part of the hammer that his wife was using to pressure him into taking the 6 month plea deal so that she and her assistant could get a big headline about another “guilty” plea. To act like the 6 month offer is some sort of “leniency” is insane when you know the details of the case and everything else that came with it.

        Dolan also — conveniently — ignores that the government supposedly told Aaron’s lawyers that if he didn’t take the deal, the next one they’d come back with would be worse, and that if the case actually got to court, they’d try to get the judge (notorious for strict sentences) to throw the book at Swartz.

  • Programming

    • 9 of the Best Free PHP Books

      Learning the PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) programming language from scratch can be an arduous affair. Fortunately, budding developers that want to code in this language have a good range of introductory texts available to read, both in-print and to download. There are also many quality books that help programmers that have reached an intermediate level deepen their understanding of the language.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Invites Chinese Web Developers, Industry, Academia to Assume Greater Role in Global Web Innovation

      W3C announces Beihang University as a new center for W3C technical staff and leadership activities in China. W3C anticipates that a dedicated presence in China will enhance opportunities for collaboration among Chinese companies, Web developers, and research institutes, and W3C’s full international community, including Members from more than 40 countries.

      “China is in the midst of an innovation boom,” said Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO. “In IT, Chinese companies have excelled in instant messaging, online games, smartphones, and search, and there is a flourishing Chinese browser ecosystem. In the past two years W3C has benefited from greater Chinese participation, and we look forward to that trend accelerating through the efforts of local industry and Beihang University. Global participation in W3C enables our community to identify global needs for the Web, and drive solutions.”

      In its new capacity, Beihang University invites Chinese Web developers, industry, and academia to assume a greater role in global Web innovation.

    • Vint Cerf appointed to National Science Board by President Obama

Leftovers

  • Is Facebook Graph Search A Concerning Matter?

    Is Facebook Graph Search A Concerning Matter?
    Syn Waker’s picture
    Posted by Syn Waker on20Jan2013

    As we all heard about, Facebook started to roll out a beta version of its Graph Search, a feature that “gives people the power and the tools they need to search through the content on the site”. At what cost?

    We’ve already seen how Facebook “handles” the privacy of the humble Facebook users (see face recognition and social web), but now, Mark’s social network has made a bold step by making impossible to hide your timeline from being indexed in the ‘walled’ search results (altough individual posts can be hidden), and those who opted out before this feature would be disabled, they would still be forced to change the privacy settings for every single post they wanted to be hidden from curious eyes.

  • Media freedom is a delicate flower

    I am delighted to have read over the weekend, and to have been officially presented today, with a keenly awaited report into the practice of media freedom and pluralism in the European Union. The lead author is Prof. Vaire Vike Freiberga (The other members were Professor Herta Däubler-Gmelin, Professor Luís Miguel Poiares Pessoa Maduro and Ben Hammersley)

    It is remarkably wide-ranging; it touches on the work of many of my Commission colleagues.

  • Google Handwrite gets easier and faster

    Since we launched Google Handwrite last summer for smartphones and tablets, we’ve been improving recognition quality and also working on a number of features to make it easier and faster to handwrite your searches on Google. You can now distinguish between ambiguous characters, overlap your characters, and write multiple characters at a time in Chinese.

  • What Gates Foundation Should Have Said in Its MET Teacher Evaluation Report

    No matter how you mix it, it’s better to go with Value-Added, student surveys, or both: As Dropout Nation noted last year, the accuracy of classroom observations is so low that even in a multiple measures approach to evaluation in which value-added data and student surveys account for the overwhelming majority of the data culled from the model (72.9 percent, and 17.2 percent of the evaluation in one case), the classroom observations are of such low quality that they bring down the accuracy of the overall performance review. This point is raised again in the latest group of models floated by Gates in its final MET study. Only one model matches the level of accuracy Value-Added has on its own — and that’s because observations only account for two percent of the data in the model. The usefulness of the next model, one of the three Gates prefers because observations account for a quarter of the data used (while Value-Added accounts for half), declines by nine-hundreds of a standard deviation based on Dropout Nation‘s analysis of the MET report’s data; another model, in observations, Value-Added and student surveys account for one-third each, the loss of accuracy is nearly two-tenths of a standard deviation.

    Yet the Gates Foundation insists on pushing a “multiple measures approach” that is useless to teachers, school leaders, families, and children alike:

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • The ghost of a Spring Framework bug haunts old code

      There are reports of the discovery of a remote code execution flaw in the Spring Framework, but many are not mentioning that the flaw in question was fixed over a year ago and that what has been found is actually a new way to exploit that old flaw. In 2011, a “variable” severity flaw, identified as CVE-2011-2730, was discovered by two researchers in versions 3.0.0 to 3.0.5, 2.5.0 to 2.5.6SEC02 and 2.5.0 to 2.5.7SR01. The flaw involved Expression Language (EL) and its use in JSP; EL expressions were evaluated by default and in some circumstances were evaluated twice, which could lead to information disclosure to an attacker if there was a location in an application where an unfiltered parameter was placed in a tag that would be evaluated. A paper covered the details.

    • No, availability is not security!

      Security is a very important factor in my choice of distributions and software solutions, and I tend to hold a very strict view of what it means from a modern computing standpoint. In one sentence, my stance on security is this: A sound and complete security posture has to take both physical and network security into account.

      Anything less will not fly. So when I came across an article that attempts to sell that view short for the sole purpose of promoting a product, it didn’t sit well with me. The offending article was written by Frank Karlitschek, founder and CTO of Owncloud, a cloud storage service and solution.

      In More to Security than Encryption, he takes this skewed stance that it is (somewhat) ok to say something is secure even though it lacks encryption. He then makes several points to support that stance.

    • Oracle’s Java patch leaves a loophole
    • 29c3: Hacking Politics

      Every year at the end of December, computer hackers from all over the world gather in Germany – this time in Hamburg – for the Chaos Communication Congress, four days of talks, meetings and workshops.

      With “Not my department,” as the theme of the year – a tongue in cheek reminder that hackers should accept their responsibilities when it comes to politics and social justice – 29c3, short for 29th Chaos Communication Congress, reveals the growing influence of a certain type of hacker, one increasingly aware of its political role.

    • Security guards attack man for shooting video of subway track
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Minamata Convention Agreed by Nations

      International effort to address mercury-a notorious heavy metal with significant health and environmental effects-was today delivered a significant boost with governments agreeing to a global, legally-binding treaty to prevent emissions and releases.

    • If Right-Wing Violence Is Up 400%, Why Is the #FBI Targeting Environmentalists?

      Violent attacks by right-wing groups and individuals have increased by 400% since 1990, and dramatically in the last five years, according to a new report by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center.

      When examined side-by-side with FBI reports on domestic terrorism, the data from this study shows that the FBI has been either grossly miscalculating, or intentionally downplaying, murders and violent attacks by right-wing extremists while exaggerating the threat posed by animal rights activists and environmentalists, who have only destroyed property.

  • Finance

    • Oxfam seeks ‘new deal’ on inequality from world leaders

      The 100 richest people in the world earned enough last year to end extreme poverty suffered by the poorest on the planet four times over, Oxfam has said.

      Ahead of next week’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the charity urged world leaders to tackle inequality.

      Extreme wealth was “economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive”, the report said.

      [...]

      “From tax havens to weak employment laws, the richest benefit from a global economic system which is rigged in their favour.”

    • How to get $12 billion of gold to Venezuela

      Ever since the news broke last week that Hugo Chávez wanted to transport 211 tons of physical gold from Europe to Caracas, I’ve been wondering how on earth he possibly intends to do such a thing.

    • Goldman Raises CEO’s Stock Bonus 90% to $13.3 Million

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) boosted Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein’s stock bonus 90 percent to $13.3 million, topping JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)’s Jamie Dimon for the first time in five years, as profit climbed (GS).

    • Snakes and Ladders: Investment Banking on the Brink

      Banks manipulated the LIBOR interest rate, which affects financial transactions worth hundreds of trillions of dollars. They foisted risky assets on customers and became involved in money laundering and tax fraud. Traders like Kweku Adoboli (UBS), Jérôme Kerviel (Société Générale) and Bruno Iksil (JPMorgan Chase) gambled away billions through risky transactions, either on their own or with their departments.

    • Rich Pickings: Goldman Sachs cashes in, world on brink of food crisis
    • Goldman Sachs made up to £250 million from betting on food prices in 2012

      Goldman Sachs made up to an estimated £251 million (US$400 million) in 2012 from speculating on food including wheat, maize and soy, prompting campaigners to accuse the bank of contributing to a growing global food crisis.
      Goldman Sachs is recognised as the leading global player in financial speculation on food and other commodities, and created the first commodity index funds which allow huge amounts of money to be gambled on prices.

    • The “Swiss Bank Accounts” of the 2012 Elections: How Secret Donors Are Corrupting Democracy

      The corrosive influence of money in politics was amplified in 2012 by the fact that in many cases we don’t know which individuals or which corporations actually provided much of the funding to affect election results. “Dark money” — election spending where we don’t know the source of the funds — played a bigger role in 2012 than in any other presidential election since Richard Nixon’s.

      A new report from the Center for Media and Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) has helped expose more about what we call “the swiss bank account” of American elections, where wealthy elites attempt to secretly influence the outcome of our elections through non-profit groups that keep their donations hidden, and increasingly, through “straw” or “shell” corporations that appear to exist for no reason other than to anonymously pour millions into elections.

    • Open Letter to Mike Duke, CEO of Walmart

      Walmart, your gigantic company, is increasingly being challenged by your workers, government prosecutors, civil lawsuits, communities (that do not want a Walmart), taxpayers learning about your drain on government services and corporate welfare, and small businesses and groups working with unions such as SEIU and UFCW. Thus far, Walmart is successfully playing rope-a-dope, conceding little while expecting to wear down its opposition.

    • Goldman bankers get rich betting on food prices as millions starve

      Goldman Sachs made more than a quarter of a billion pounds last year by speculating on food staples, reigniting the controversy over banks profiting from the global food crisis.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Researcher Tears Apart Gates Foundation Teacher Evaluation Study

      University of Arkansas education professor Jay P. Greene has weighed in on the BIll and Melinda Gates Foundation’s conclusions about its teacher evaluation study.

      Greene says the foundation’s conclusions were based on the politics of convincing teachers and school districts of the merits of evaluations, and not data.

    • Understanding the Gates Foundation’s Measuring Effective Teachers Project

      But the folks at the Gates Foundation, afflicted with PLDD, don’t see things this way. They’ve been working with politicians in Illinois, Los Angeles, and elsewhere to centrally impose teacher evaluation systems, but they’ve encountered stiff resistance. In particular, they’ve noticed that teachers and others have expressed strong reservations about any evaluation system that relies too heavily on student test scores.

    • THE CIA AND THE MEDIA

      How Americas Most Powerful News Media Worked Hand in Glove with the Central Intelligence Agency and Why the Church Committee Covered It Up

  • Censorship

    • EU Group Says Brussels Should Control Press Regulation, Attacks Cameron For Rejecting Leveson
    • Leveson: EU wants power to sack journalists

      Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, attacked the report for making an “extraordinary, and deeply disturbing proposal”.
      “Having EU officials overseeing our free press – and monitoring newspapers to ensure they comply with “European values” – would be quite simply intolerable,” he said.
      “This is the sort of mind-set that I would expect to find in Iran, not the West. This kooky idea tells us little about the future of press regulation. It does suggest that the European project is ultimately incompatible with the notion of a free society.”

  • Privacy

    • Ministers Express Doubts on Expanding Data Protection Laws

      E.U. justice ministers reacted coolly on Friday to a plan that would give consumers the ability to expunge the personal details Internet businesses have collected on them, essentially allowing individuals to block most kinds of online ads.

      During an informal meeting in Dublin, the ministers expressed reservations about elements of the proposal, which would impose new limits on data collection and profiling and give national regulators the ability to levy hefty fines equal to 2 percent of sales on companies that failed to comply.

    • PayPal Gets A Slice Of £25m DWP Identity Contract
    • I conceal my identity the same way Aaron was indicted for

      According to his indictment, Aaron Swartz was charged with wirefraud for concealing/changing his “true identity”. It sent chills down my back, because I do everything on that list (and more).

    • Graph Search’s Dirty Promise and the Con of the Facebook “Like”

      It turns out as much as half of the links between objects and interests contained in FB are dirty—i.e. there is no true affinity between the like and the object or it’s stale. Never mind does the data not really represent user intent… but the user did not even ‘like’ what she was liking.
      How is this possible? Let me explain.

  • Civil Rights

    • Terror Threat Prompts U.S. Rethink on Africa
    • Student Expelled From Montreal College For Finding “Sloppy Coding”

      In what appears to be a more-and-more common occurrence, Ahmed Al-Khabez has been expelled from Dawson College in Montreal after he discovered a flaw in the software that the college (and apparently all other colleges across Quebec) uses to track student information.

    • NDAA Would Have Sent MLK to Gitmo, Says Cornel West

      Firebrand black activist Dr. Cornel West gave a speech at the Tavis Smiley Presents Poverty In America series on Thursday that may surprise libertarians – in how much they agree with the “socialist radical.”

      Decrying the erosion of civil liberties today, Dr. West loudly lamented the “crypto-fascist” state developing in America – contrasting the federal government to crack addicts, whom he said at least “are honest about their addiction. The White House is addicted to power!”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Cable Industry Finally Admits Caps Not About Congestion

      For years the cable industry insisted that they imposed usage caps because network congestion made them necessary. You’ll recall that Time Warner Cable insisted that if they weren’t allowed to impose caps and overages the Internet would face “brown outs.” Cable operators also paid countless think tanks, consultants and fauxcademics to spin scary yarns about a looming network congestion “exaflood,” only averted if cable operators were allowed to raise rates, impose caps, eliminate regulation or (insert pretty much anything here).

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Supreme Court conundrum: How far does a soybean seed patent go?

      Vernon Hugh Bowman is the rare Indiana soybean farmer destined for immortality as a U.S. Supreme Court caption.
      Bowman had the temerity to attempt to outwit Monsanto, the giant agriculture company that, as you surely know, invested hundreds of millions of dollars and years of research in the creation of soybean seeds that are genetically modified to withstand the herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto markets as Roundup. The genetically modified seeds, according to the Supreme Court brief Monsanto filed Wednesday, have been such a hit with farmers that more than 90 percent of the U.S. soybean crop begins with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds. Given that every soybean plant produces enough seeds to grow 80 more plants — and that soybeans grown from Roundup Ready seeds contain the genetic modification of glyphosate resistance — Monsanto has insisted that farmers sign licensing agreements with strict restrictions. Soybean producers are only supposed to use the Roundup Ready seeds they buy to grow crops in a single season, and they’re forbidden from planting second-generation seeds harvested from first-generation crops.

    • US FTC Finds Sharp Rise In ‘Pay-For-Delay’ Deals Blocking Generics

      The Federal Trade Commission staff report [pdf] found that drug companies made 40 potential pay-for-delay deals in FY 2012 (1 October 2011 through 30 September 2012).

    • The dynamics of free culture and the danger of noncommercial clauses

      Free licensing lowers the barrier of entry to creating cultural works, which unlocks a dynamic where people can realize their ideas much easier – and where culture can actually live, creating memes, adjusting them to new situations and using new approaches with old topics.

      But for that to really take off, people have to be able to make a living from their creations – which build on other works. Then we have people who make a living by reshaping culture again and again – instead of the current culture where only a few (rich or funded by rich ones) can afford to reuse old works and all others have to start from scratch again and again.

    • Open, pop culture R&D lab for the public domain
    • Court Definitively Rejects AFP’s Argument That Posting a Photo to Twitter Grants AFP a License to Freely Use It — AFP v. Morel
    • It Will Be Awesome if They Don’t Screw it Up: 3D Printing
    • Nokia backs 3D printing for mobile phone cases
    • After a year in the grave, can SOPA and Protect IP return?

      CNET asked the leaders of the congressional committees that write U.S. copyright law, plus the groups that backed the controversial legislation a year ago, to tell us what will happen next.

    • Copyrights

      • Fighting Back Against The DOJ

        They demurred on prosecuting war criminals (hey, they’re all government buddies and what’s a few prisoners tortured to death among friends?), but they sure as hell hounded Aaron Swartz to his death. It really speaks to how justice is so often these days a weapon of the powerful, not a defense for the powerless. The petition to hold Carmen Ortiz accountable for her bullying has now reached 38,000. Please sign it – and let the Obama administration know that this attack on dissemination of academic information is not acceptable.

      • Was Aaron Swartz Really ‘Killed by the Government’?

        Swartz’s case may not be as black-and-white as his loved ones suggest; no one person or entity “killed” Swartz. Suicide is caused by mental illness. But in bringing such tough charges against him, prosecutors do seem to have wrongly used their discretion. There is still more to be learned about how the Boston U.S. Attorney’s office made the choices it did, and Representative Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has announced that his committee is investigating. Swartz’s actions were not above reproach. He appears to have been in the middle of a plan to “liberate” and disseminate privately owned articles. But the offense he was engaged in was not crime of violence or greed. It seems, rather, to have been an act of civil disobedience, or lawbreaking in the service of Swartz’s (and many people’s) idea of a more just world. That does not mean that Swartz had a right to do what he did or not to be punished. But his motives should have been an important part of the government’s calculus.

      • Aaron Swartz: cannon fodder in the war against internet freedom

        On 11 January, a young American geek named Aaron Swartz killed himself, and most of the world paid no attention. In the ordinary run of things, “it was not an important failure”, as Auden put it in Musée des Beaux Arts.

        About suffering they were never wrong,
        The old Masters: how well they understood
        Its human position: how it takes place
        While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along

      • Aaron Swartz memorial evokes strong emotions and political urgency

        Friends, family, and colleagues share their stories of the activist’s life and work

      • Dotcom’s Mega Launches To Unprecedented Demand

        The much anticipated rebirth of Megaupload took place in the last few hours with interest living up to expectations. In less than one hour the site picked up 100,000 new registrations, going on to 500,000 and beyond just a few hours later. As the site struggled to cope with demand it became unresponsive in the face of an unprecedented flood of users eager to test out the new file-hosting site. Just a few minutes ago the launch party at Kim Dotcom’s mansion began, with some interesting reveals.

      • Kim Dotcom’s Mega Gets 1 Million Users During Launch, Should You Use It?

        The Internet superhero Kim Dotcom has returned with MEGA, after the US government – under the influence of Hollywood — seized Megaupload servers and took ownership of legit user data. After initially hiccups (where under US influence the government of the African nation of Gabon seized Me.ga domain) Dotcom has released MEGA with a lavish and mega launch party.

      • Dotcom’s Mega Launches To Unprecedented Demand
      • Senator John Cornyn accuses Eric Holder of prosecuting Aaron Swartz as ‘retaliation’
      • Feds Hounded ‘Net Activist Aaron Swartz, Says EFF’s Parker Higgins
      • The Folly of Obama National Security Officials Making Their Own Drone ‘Rules’
      • Attack on Sovereignty

        Those concerned about “The New World Order” speak as if the United States is coming under the control of an outside conspiratorial force. In fact, it is the US that is the New World Order. That is what the American unipolar world, about which China, Russia, and Iran complain, is all about.

      • The International Relations Academy and the Beltway “Foreign Policy Community”—Why the Disconnect?
      • Carmen Ortiz Strikes Out

        Congress prepares to slap down prosecutors linked to the suicide of Aaron Swartz

      • Dick Cheney Sounds Off on CIA Torture, Iraq, and More in New Sundance Documentary

        The World According to Dick Cheney, a new documentary by R.J. Cutler and Greg Finton, will make its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The film boasts hours of exclusive interviews with the ex–vice president, who remains unapologetic about his legacy—including CIA torture and the Iraq War.

      • The Fishing Expedition into WikiLeaks

        If, as WikiLeaks claims, Aaron Swartz:

        Assisted WikiLeaks
        Communicated with Julian Assange in 2010 and 2011
        May have contributed material to WikiLeaks
        Then it strongly indicates the US government used the grand jury investigation into Aaron’s JSTOR downloads as a premise to investigate WikiLeaks. And they did so, apparently, only after the main grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks had stalled.

      • Our Government’s UnPATRIOTic Investigation of Aaron Swartz

        As I noted back in December 2010, as soon as Eric Holder declared WikiLeaks’ purported crime to be Espionage, it opened up a whole slew of investigative methods associated with the PATRIOT Act. It allowed the government to use National Security Letters to get financial and call records. It allowed them to use Section 215 orders to get “any tangible thing.” And all that’s after FISA Amendments Act, which permits the government to bulk collect “foreign intelligence” on a target overseas–whether or not that foreign target is suspected of Espionage–that includes that target’s communications with Americans. The government may well be using Section 215 to later access the US person communications that have been collected under an FAA order, though that detail is one the government refuses to share with the American people.

      • Last picture of tragic internet guru: Reddit founder’s girlfriend tells of their last hours

        Taren insists Swartz killed himself because he was ‘tired’ of facing up to a merciless justice system that has ‘lost all sense of mercy’ and is driven by ‘vindictiveness’

      • Mega arrives: Hands-on with Kim Dotcom’s new cloud storage site

        Nearly one year after Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload storage site was shuttered on criminal charges filed by the United States government, the big man is back with a new cloud storage service, called simply Mega.

      • Australian Pirate Party Gets Approved and Russians are Denied (Again)

        It’s been an up and down week for Pirates, as official party status has been decided in two countries. In Australia it’s a big G’day to their Pirate Party, while the Russians yet again heard ‘Nyet’ from their Ministry of Justice.

        There is a certain level of symmetry to the world. When one part of the world has day, the other half has night. And more importantly, when one hemisphere gets summer, the other has winter. Right now it’s summer in the southern hemisphere and the sun is certainly shining on Australian Pirates.

      • Aussie Pirate Party Officially Enters Politics

        The Pirate Party officially becomes an Australian political organisation, stating that it “passed all tests by the Australian Electoral Commission”. For those who don’t know, a Pirate Party is, according to Wikipedia, a label adopted by political parties in different countries that supports civil rights, direct democracy and participation, free sharing of knowledge and freedom of information, advocating network neutrality and universal Internet access.

      • Mega hits 1 million users after one day as Kim Dotcom officially launches the service
      • Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ Video Taken Down On Internet Freedom Day

        We’ve been talking a lot today about Internet Freedom Day, and the anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA blackout. The folks at Fight for the Future noticed the proximity of Internet Freedom Day to Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and decided an interesting form of celebrating internet freedom would be to share a video of MLK’s famous “I have a dream…” speech. As you may or may not know, Martin Luther King Jr.’s heirs have been ridiculously aggressive in claiming copyright over every aspect of anything related to MLK — and they seek large sums of money from people for doing things like quoting him. When the MLK Memorial was recently built in Washington DC, the family was able to get nearly $800,000 just to use his words and likeness.

      • Law Professor James Grimmelmann Explains How He Probably Violated The Same Laws As Aaron Swartz

        We’ve been discussing the ridiculousness of the prosecution against Aaron Swartz, including the fact that if a federal prosecutor decides to take you down, it’s not at all difficult to find something they can try to pin on you, especially when it comes to “computer” crimes. Law professor James Grimmelmann explains how it’s quite possible that prosecutors could go after him under the same laws as it went after Swartz. He notes that he used to run the (excellent) blog LawMeme (which we used to link to frequently). After it died, he wanted to preserve many of the articles, and so he wrote a script to pull the articles off of the Internet Archive.

      • Toward a Revolutionary Transformation of Society
      • isoHunt Turns 10 Years Old, Keeps on Fighting Copyright Cartels

        IsoHunt, one of the oldest BitTorrent sites on the Internet, turns 10 years old today. The site has been fighting Hollywood in court for more than seven years but has not backed down. IsoHunt founder Gary Fung is determined to protect and facilitate people’s right to share culture legitimately. “One would think the people of the Internet are losing to the copyright cartels, but I think different,” he says.

      • In memory of Aaron Swartz: Stealing is not stealing

        If Swartz had knocked over a bookstore with the intent of depositing the books in a library, he’d have received a mental health evaluation and been threatened with less time. Moreover, if he was caught in the act of knocking over the bookstore, he’d be guilty of an attempted crime and face even lesser penalties. But for some reason, cyber crime is considered deadly serious. He was facing 35 years. You could murder someone and get less time.

      • After Aaron Swartz

        Brilliant young hackers, striving to build tools to change the world, are killing themselves. Just last week: Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit and fierce open access activist, took his life at 26. There have been other high-profile suicides in the tech world in recent years: Ilya Zhitomirskiy, co-founder of the distributed social network Diaspora, dead at 22. Len Sassaman, a highly-regarded cypherpunk who believed in cryptography and privacy as tools of freedom, dead at 31. Dan Haubert, co-founder of the Y-Combinator funded startup Ticketstumbler, dead at 25. If these young men were like the 100 people who kill themselves in this country every day, the biggest factor contributing to their deaths was likely under-treated depression.

      • Aaron Swartz’s Father: MIT Put ‘Institutional Concerns Ahead Of Compassion’
      • Fighting Back Against The DOJ
      • The Impact of “Aaron’s Law” on Aaron Swartz’s Case
      • The pushback against Aaron Swartz misses the point
      • Edward Tufte’s defense of Aaron Swartz and the “marvelously different”
      • A Moment of Silence for Aaron Swartz
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