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11.08.13

Bezos-Owned Washington Post No Longer Has Ombudsman, Revolving Doors Plague the FCC Again

Posted in America at 2:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coup d’état of the media



Photo by Steve Jurvetson

Summary: Further erosion of independence in the corporate media and another fine example of its overseers being run by the same corporations it’s supposed to oversee

It was curious to find out that the ombudsman of the Washington Post had been made redundant, as pointed out in an open letter from Ralph Nader [1]. The Washington Post, which rejected the leaks from Bradley Manning and did a lot to serve CIA agenda (or beam propaganda to China as part of a deal with the government), is now owned by the head of Amazon, which also has a massive new contract with the CIA (to help store data about people, nations, and so on). It is worth remembering Amazon’s proximity to Microsoft as well. The trend-setting media (more influential than Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg and perhaps even the New York Times) is now literally owned by a man whose net worth is $28.9 billion. Previously, before this embarrassing scandal, Bill Gates’ wife was on the board of the Washington Post, but it wasn’t ownership of the whole. At least we now know who the Washington Post needs to serve, as per the steering managers.

The United States has this apparatus called FCC, which stands for Federal Communications Commission. It is supposed to supervise the media (among other things), but given that it’s full of corruption and appointments from those who are seemingly regulated (revolving doors in the FCC were covered here before [1, 2, 3, 4]), expect nothing to be done about the loss of oversight over corporate media, which now in Bezos’ hands is more corporate-owned than before. The FCC has just shown us that corruption is its motto by appointing Tom Wheeler [2] (check his professional background).

It is important to always recall who owns the media which we choose to trust. There’s a business model and/or a political agenda, but hiding it is easy using the art of language.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. An Open Letter to the Washington Post

    Mr. Bezos would do well to reestablish the longtime ombudsman post which was abolished in March of this year, presumably to save money. For an ombudsman’s role is not just to be an internal critic at the paper but also to be the reader’s coherent voice on the ways the Washington Post is being managed.

  2. Tom Wheeler confirmed as new chief of US FCC

    The confirmation of Tom Wheeler as chairman and Michael O’Rielly as a commissioner ends a deadlock over the appointment of two key FCC executives, after Republican lawmakers withdrew their opposition.

Crisis Capitalism: Bill Gates and Other ‘Education Oligarchs’ Turn Schools Into their Private, For-Profit Ventures

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance at 2:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill Gates

Photo by Remy Steinegger

Summary: Another new example of exploitation of a crisis (caused by oligarchy) by oligarchs who wish to profit from it (privatisation)

Will Hill, a regular contributor of this site, reminds us of this topic which we no longer explore (no time to cover it anymore). The Gates Foundation continues to do its evil deeds under the pretense of charity and teachers are not stupid enough to think that Bill Gates, a college dropout, genuinely wants to improve education. “The article goes on to expose Bill Gates’ recent, self dealing and other interference in Colorado’s schools,” Hill says. Dora Taylor, the teacher who wrote an analysis based on this news, puts it like this: “it is the same oligarchic attitude that now dominates local education politics all over the country. Perhaps most illustrative of the trend is my home state of Colorado. This state has unfortunately become the national petri dish of the Education Oligarchs – people like the Walton family, of Wal-Mart fame; Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft; Michael Bloomberg, the anti-union media mogul; and Philip Anschutz, the billionaire sponsor of right-wing Christian causes. These oligarchs and others aim to put everything – including our kids future – up for sale to the highest bidder in the Colorado education system.

“One way to see this is to look at how the Walton family and Gates have deployed their wealth to make an opportunity out of this square state’s infamous education finance problems. Leveraging their tax-subsidized foundations, they purport to come to the financial rescue of budget-strapped schools. Yet, they typically tie their seemingly altruistic beneficence to ideological demands.”

Taylor concludes by saying: “Some go further and push specific technologies into classrooms – technologies that, not coincidentally, their corporations stand to profit from. One example: Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has used $100 million from his foundation to ram his company’s corporate partner, inBloom, into the Colorado’s largest school district. InBloom collects student data to share with technology companies like Gates’ Microsoft, which then develop for-profit education software to sell back to schools. According to the New York Times, parents objecting to the surveillance-like technology feared “officials might be unable to evaluate inBloom objectively, given its backing by the Gates Foundation, a major donor to public schools whose grant money Jeffco was hoping to attract.” The school district ultimately received a coveted $5.2 million grant from the Gates foundation and – not surprisingly – decided to keep using inBloom.”

We covered inBloom before. It’s like Gates’ own mini-PRISM. What we generally have here is a huge problem and Gates is one of several who cause it. When the “corporate rule” [1] runs the country and exploits crisis (real or manufactured) it is no wonder that we see people-hostile policies being passed. Gates does this not only in education. In agriculture too, Gates pushes hard for private profits by trying to promote the agenda of Big Agriculture he invests in, including GMO [2]. Gates wouldn’t know charity even if it hit him in the face [3]. He was born a super-affluent boy. To him, making himself richer is the solution to poverty in the world.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. RT America Interview: Corporate rule hurts the US more than shutdown

    RT TV interview about how governing by crisis and brinkmanship is having a negative effect on the US economy.

  2. Factory Farms: Taxpayers Pay. Politicians Take. Agribusiness Profits.

    The agribusiness giants would have us believe that our inherently unsustainable and morally reprehensible factory farming system is the only way to feed the world’s burgeoning population. But the facts prove otherwise. Factory farming is all about maximizing profits for a handful of the world’s largest corporations.

  3. Rich people couldn’t care less

    Studies have found the wealthy are less interested in the needs and motions of others and are not as helpful, compassionate or generous as those who possess less. One study, published in 2010, found people with less money are better at reading faces in a measure called empathy accuracy.

The Free Internet is Dying, and Not Just Due to DRM

Posted in Action at 1:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vint Cerf
By Вени Марковски

Summary: The Internet as a whole is turning into just another Facebook (advertising, surveillance, censorship, and propaganda)

CITING issues with DRM on the Web, we’re not alone in saying that the Internet got abducted by corporate interests, just like anything that’s good in the world, including Free software. Darknets are gaining popularity because there is realisation that anonymity on the Web, which is critical to free speech, is in critical condition (Tor is one remedy [1], but it’s under attack by the NSA, FBI, and so on). To make matters worse, the monopolies which took control over Net traffic are increasingly discriminating against particular sites or access protocols [2], basically denying free and equal access to speech. Given the way that alternative media gets oppressed and even crushed [3] by authority and corporations, we oughn’t assume that these issues are accidental, temporary, or the result of one person (or company) getting it all wrong. There is a strong collective force trying to turn the Web into a conduit for advertising, censorships, surveillance (profiling), propaganda, etc. I know some people who decided to more or less quit the Web due to that. Quitting Facebook is the first stage, but how about quitting the Web when the platform as a whole becomes just another Facebook (with real ID and surveillance)?

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. What is Tor? A beginner’s guide to the privacy tool

    The anonymity software has sparked controversy but who built it, what is it used for, what browser does it use – and why is the NSA so worried by it?

  2. We’re About to Lose Net Neutrality — And the Internet as We Know It

    Net neutrality is a dead man walking. The execution date isn’t set, but it could be days, or months (at best). And since net neutrality is the principle forbidding huge telecommunications companies from treating users, websites, or apps differently — say, by letting some work better than others over their pipes — the dead man walking isn’t some abstract or far-removed principle just for wonks: It affects the internet as we all know it.

  3. Greek police raid occupied and worker-run TV station

When it Comes to Trademarks, Canonical is Even Worse Than Novell

Posted in Ubuntu at 1:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novellsoft

Summary: Canonical uses dubious trademarks in dubious ways in order to silence critics

BACK in 2007 we wrote about the possibility that Novell might try to use trademarks in order to silence "Boycott Novell". Despite the fact that some Novell employees abused us (as SCO employees had done in Groklaw), it never went as far as using legal threats (intended to discourage or scare the critics). For that sort of tactless move to become reality one can always count on privacy offender Canonical. It is not unprecedented.

According to this article from a part-time Microsoft booster, “Canonical “abused trademark law” to target a site critical of Ubuntu privacy,” adding to its name-calling against critics (Mark Shuttleworth just collectively referred to them as “trolls”).

Remember that Canonical went after derivatives of Ubuntu — using trademarks to force renames — and later used its PR-esque staff (no need to name names) in order to cover this up because publicity generated by these moves was largely very negative. Canonical clearly hasn’t learned its lessons.

Canonical seriously needs some fixing. But we might not be able to say so because Canonical would go after us. Canonical Canonical Canonical Canonical Canonical Canonical. Sue us.

Ikey Doherty Gets a Great Job by Developing GNU/Linux, But What Does That Mean to Free Software?

Posted in GNU/Linux at 1:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The demise of the grassroots nature of GNU/Linux

SolusOS

Summary: The founder of SolusOS may turn from rags to riches owing to GNU/Linux skills that he acquired through development, but there is more to the story and a much broader perspective

THE LESSON of history is that once a movement becomes popular enough it will get abducted by opportunists and businesses. Ask former hippies about it. We see that in the Free software movement, which was officially abducted when it get branched/renamed “Open Source”. The previous post gives away the fact that I have a full-time job (FOSS-oriented), which limits my ability to run this Web site. Likewise, the person behind SolusOS is going to call SolusOS off [1], making it all end despite great success [2]. As Christine Hall reveals, there is a reason for this premature death of SolusOS [3]. The developer, Ikey Doherty, just couldn’t afford to develop it anymore. Instead, taking into account what developers can earn in the software market these days [3] (especially with GNU/Linux skills [4]), Doherty decided to move on, just like several other distro developers and even authors of GNU/Linux sites. It seems like yet more authors have quit writing about Free software this year, including The H staff, Groklaw, and Susan Linton, the founder of Tux Machines. Are Michael Larabel, Sean Kerner and a few others the last men (or women) standing? Have corporations taken over the development and news regarding GNU/Linux? Are the Linux Foundation staff members (PR) the principal corporations-funded messengers (no poor people invited [6]) now that the operating system outgrew its grassroots nature? First they marginalise Richard Stallman and the FSF and now we are left with just one major desktop distribution that is spying on users in exchange for money from the CIA’s close partner, Amazon. When Richard Stallman got pushed out from the movement he had created it was warped into a more ‘business-friendly’ strand or trend. Likewise, when Torvalds lost his independence in controlling Linux (his wage is now collectively paid by TPM and DRM supporters) all of us lost, except the corporations. Think about it.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Infant Mortality Strikes SolusOS

    That distros come and go is not a problem for most of us, because there are other distros to which we can migrate. No one weeps that startup businesses fail at a very high rate for similar reasons: too little capital, manpower, niche product, minimal advertising etc. That’s just the way things are. It’s healthy that people make the attempt. It’s a learning experience for them and the world will benefit from better ideas.

  2. SolusOS Linux Will No Longer Be Developed
  3. SolusOS: Life Happens…Distros Die

    Ikey has struggled for the past year or so…even to the point of putting food on the table. But even through his prolonged unemployment, Ikey worked steadily on SolusOS. Those of us who could donated money via his PayPal account so he could concentrate on his work.

    Where I come into play within SolusOS isn’t news. Ikey approached me over a year ago and asked if I would like to help create a customized version of SolusOS for the Reglue project. In that our former Ubuntu LTS was speeding toward end-of-life, I jumped at the chance. I was a SolusOS user already so it was a great offer. Ikey and I became friends.

    So what happened? What transpired between October 20th and October 24th that would make Ikey Doherty just slam the door and walk away?

    If I were to guess, it would probably be a combination of a couple of things:

    Ikey had recently landed a fantastic job. While it is public record for those who want to look, in the last conversation I had with Ikey he asked me not to make a big deal out of it.

    So I won’t.

    Suffice it to say that it’s probably Ikey’s dream job. I believe the demands of that position, along with the stress and constant shifting of SolusOS collaborators, finally took its toll. I believe that the combined pressure of these things rolled over him like a tsunami.

  4. 2013 Developer Salary Survey
  5. LinuxCareers.com announces a new job portal for Linux professionals

    linux jobsLinuxCareers.com announced today a new job portal for Linux professionals effective on January 14th, 2014. Employers of Linux talent are urged to join now in order to receive pre-launch benefits. For limited time only employers can be rewarded with free 10 job postings a month for the first half of 2014. To express your interest go to linuxcareers.com and fill up the simple registration form.

  6. Elitist Linux Australia has no time for the less fortunate

    Linux Australia, which runs the conference through various organisers in different parts of Australia, and occasionally New Zealand, is mum when asked what it intends to do to help pensioners and the unemployed attend the conference.

    Its president, Joshua Hesketh, has not responded to a request for comment on this issue, which was raised on the Linux Australia mailing lists on October 16. Doubtless, Hesketh has a great many important things to attend to.

17,000 Posts, 7 Years of Techrights, and Imminent Expansion

Posted in Site News at 12:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tux Machines server
The previous Tux Machines server

Summary: Techrights turns 7, a milestone is reached again, and Tux Machines is acquired to help advance GNU/Linux

AS pointed out by some tech/FOSS sites, we are closing the deal to buy Tux Machines. The payment has been made and within days we should be running Tux Machines, advancing GNU/Linux by advocacy.

Days ago we also quietly crossed a milestone by posting our 17,000th blog post. That’s about 2480 posts per year! We have slowed down in recent years because readers’ help is needed. Yesterday this site officially turned 7 (depending on what data is considered most significant, boycottnovell.com’s creation date is 2006-11-07 14:21:00) and if you appreciate what we do here, please consider making a contribution. The sum of contributions to this site (over the course of 7 years) is just slightly above $100, so I must depend on another full-time job.

Nobody Knows How Much — If Anything — Microsoft Is Making From Android/Linux

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 12:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lloyd Blankfein
Credit: Financial Times

Summary: So-called ‘analysts’, including some from Goldman Sachs, are serving Microsoft’s FUD campaign by claiming that Microsoft makes billions of dollars from Android (without any proof)

IN ORDER TO scare companies and keep them away from Linux, Microsoft needs them to believe that Linux is somehow expensive, with the same going for Android and GNU. For a number of years now we have seen purely speculative reports which try to quantify costs that we know nothing about because Microsoft’s racketeering operation makes secrecy part of the protection racket. This is a pattern of FUD which we are very familiar with, having seen it in the Novell era as well.

Right now we have yet another so-called ‘genius’ trying to tell us that he has an exclusive insight into the income of the racketeering operation. This serves nobody but the racketeering operation and it’s not the first time that we see so-called ‘analysts’ doing this, sometimes even analysts close to Microsoft, including Goldman Sachs. It’s always them, like marketers in suits. We urge people to ignore those so-called ‘geniuses’, who just like secret services [1] want us to sometimes believe that they have powerful and valuable inside knowledge, even when they’re not inside-trading, which is against the law. According to Business ‘Insider’, “Microsoft is generating $2 billion per year in revenue from Android patent royalties, says Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund in a new note on the company.”

What are his sources? Did Microsoft’s racketeering operation tell him to write that? And is so, can it be believed? The Microsoft which was caught engaging in financial fraud after an employee had blown the whistle? It would be the perfect FUD. Only speculations are still being passed as ‘fact’ by some shallow sites that try to make Android look risky. We can recall many such examples, spanning at least 3 years (an early analyst’s speculation was the cost of Android to HTC after a patent deal with Microsoft). Since Microsoft-hired lobbyists like Florian Müller play a significant role in relaying those numbers, we can safely suspect that there is agenda at hand. Previously, when he spread some FUD about payments from HTC to Apple, he was proven wrong by the head of HTC. Patent deals are as much about generating FUD as they are about generating income (if any). Microsoft, along with Apple, is generating Android FUD and suing Android by proxy now. That’s a different thing.

Watch the type of stuff Apple is patenting right now:

Apple granted patent for location-based camera phone disabling

Last week I was frustrated in my attempt to take a screen grab of a frame from the cartoon Gravity Falls, which I was playing in iTunes on my Mac. The screen grab image showed the player window as gray-and-white checkerboard. Next, I downloaded a 3rd party screen grab application, and it gave me the same result. I ended up taking a photo of the iMac’s display with my camera. (The photo is in this post — it’s the one with the cartoony occult symbols). Thanks to Apple’s bullshit deal with the studios, the image has crappy video artifacts in it.

This type of patents from Apple were mentioned here before. Apple will help crush protests and also impede legal sharing of data. It is worse than DRM.

Speaking of DRM, Microsoft’s allies at Netflix (deep links between those two companies) are going aggressive with patents, seeking a ban (through the ITC) of something which is not even a physical product. “A trade commission investigated Netflix, although it imports nothing,” Joe Mullin correctly pointed out. Perhaps we’ll return to covering patents like we used to (not enough time/resources), but this is just another example of software patents doing their damage.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. BUGGER

    It is a belief that has been central to much of the journalism about spying and spies over the past fifty years. That the anonymous figures in the intelligence world have a dark omniscience. That they know what’s going on in ways that we don’t.

    It doesn’t matter whether you hate the spies and believe they are corroding democracy, or if you think they are the noble guardians of the state. In both cases the assumption is that the secret agents know more than we do.

Mandriva Still a Desktop Powerhouse

Posted in GNU/Linux at 11:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mandriva logo

Summary: How Mageia, OpenMandriva, PCLinuxOS and others successfully succeed the success of Mandriva GNU/Linux

A LOT OF people forgot about Mandriva. Some key staff from Mandriva was hired by Red Hat and Google, the company’s ownership was moved to Russia, and some of the project’s successors took a very corporate-centric role, such as ROSA.

I first used Mandriva some time in 2002 and I later used it permanently in 2008 and 2009. It was one of the best distributions at that time and it received wonderful reviews. Many people these days tend to ignore Mandriva or simply dismiss it as inferior to Ubuntu and even Fedora. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Some might even think that it’s no longer possible to get one’s hands on Mandriva, even though several derivatives exist which are totally free with no strings attached. The most famous among those is probably Mageia, which gets favourable reviews [1], and it has just added an advisories Web site [2]. Mandriva itself has OpenMandriva [3], but due to its short life so far it is hard to say how much one can rely on it. The longest-running branch of Mandriva is actually PCLinuxOS, which is very much alive and well [4,5].

If you look for a distribution which is practical to use and is not necessarily free-respecting as judged by the FSF, give one of the Mandriva derivatives a try. Mandriva is still in the game.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Mageia 3

    Mageia 3 has been out for a while, and I’ve finally had time to do a review. Mageia is a fork of the Mandriva distribution, and offers quite a bit to desktop Linux users. It comes with a great selection of preinstalled software, and it is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions on DVD (3.96 GB). You also have the option of getting it on CD (700 MB).

  2. Mageia update advisories web site

    The advisories published before June 2013 are not available on this website, but are still available on the wiki.

  3. OpenMandriva Releases the Beta 1!

    According to this post, OpenMandriva Lx Beta 1 is now available for downloads.

  4. On Gaming, Upgrading, and PCLinuxOS

    Now, armed with both Desura and Steam, this laptop with PCLinuxOS has turned itself into a nice source of entertainment.

  5. PCLinuxOS KDE MiniMe and LXDE 2013.10 Review

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